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People should stop colorizing photos

July 16 2017 at 10:20 PM

Fernando Estanislau  (Login Stanhauser)
HyperScale Forums
from IP address 191.249.7.107

Not that I want to rain in your parade, but I think people should stop colorizing photos for various reasons.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with black and white photos. They show what they are suppose to do, and they served their purpose. Even scratched or damaged black and white images are beautiful at their own manner, and the weathering contains and tell us its own history. Sincerely, I think that I have never seen an image that, once colorized, became more beautiful than it already was.

Second, even if you research a lot, and have many evidence, you can't be absolutely sure that the colors you think were there effectively were.
Black and white images just haven't the hue information, so the value (brightness or darkness) of a region in the image can indicate any color.
So, every colorization is a guess, educated maybe, but still a guess. And no, no software can bring back the color based on its value in a black and white image.

Third, since nowadays everyone has access to technology for colorizing images, every kind of result is expected, bad or good, educated or fictional.
We never know what is in the mind of the guy who opened Photoshop and played with the layers and filters. If he doesn't have any commitment to the history or the pursuit of truth, he will create a piece that may deceive people and lead to confusion.

Finally, most of colorized images don't look natural. It is somewhat like CGI in the movies: The guy who seats in front of a workstation and make Spiderman jump around or Princess Lea come back to the screen swears that his work is state of art. But it is never natural.

Just my two cents.

Best regards,

Fernando Estanislau, from Brazil



 
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AuthorReply
G.R.Morrison
(Login G.R.Morrison)
HyperScale Forums
24.62.242.135

+1,000,000 n/t

July 16 2017, 10:27 PM 


 
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Greg in CA
(Login Whiterabbit72)
HyperScale Forums
184.23.252.55

I don't mind. As long as....

July 16 2017, 11:25 PM 

they are labeled as such.

Colorized photos are interesting. When they are well done, I think they give a better impression of a scene than B&W. Like a model. I've never seen anyone do a model in B&W.

The issue I have, is that colorized photos get into circulation on the internet and the younger generation quickly takes them at face value. They are a work of art. The creators should sign them so we all know, now and forever, what they are.

 
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Joe Hegedus
(Login Joe_Hegedus)
HyperScale Forums
138.162.0.42

Re: I don't mind. As long as....

July 17 2017, 10:16 AM 

First, I agree with the original poster, basically for the same reasons, but as long as colorized photos are identified as such, it's not a big deal - I know that the information contained in the original photo has been altered and can find the original if necessary.

As for black and white models, I've seen one. At an IPMS/USA Nats several years ago (one of the VA Beach cons IIRC), someone did a replication of a black and white photo in a shadow-box diorama. The photo was the well-known image of a burned-out B-17 at Pearl Harbor, and the model replicated that photo very well.

 
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Fernando Estanislau
(Login Stanhauser)
HyperScale Forums
191.249.36.15

Problem is...

July 17 2017, 2:53 PM 

...more them often people don't add any mark on them, or crop the image removing the mark.
sad.gif

 
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Malcolm McKay
(Login MalcolmMcKay)
HyperScale Forums
124.149.143.50

I absolutely agree, these fakes are now creeping into acceptance as

July 17 2017, 3:02 AM 

being originals. Worse still I have seen one example that started life as a period colour pic, was widely circulated in BW then colourised by someone who was unaware that the original had been in colour. This colourization process is no different to faking documents etc.


    
This message has been edited by MalcolmMcKay from IP address 124.149.143.50 on Jul 17, 2017 3:02 AM


 
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Roger Cockburn
(Login Hon.JohnByng)
HyperScale Forums
5.67.14.168

Maybe show both?

July 17 2017, 3:51 AM 

I don't mind colourized images as long as it is clear that is what they are. The problem is when they are passed off as real photos or innocently picked up from the web by someone who thinks they are real.

If the colourizer would show the original alongside the new version then it would be better all round.

 
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Malcolm McKay
(Login MalcolmMcKay)
HyperScale Forums
124.149.143.50

That's a possible way but it doesn't stop the infiltration of these fakes into the

July 17 2017, 6:40 AM 

historical record. I realise that to many colourization seems a pretty harmless thing but from the point of view of accuracy for historians and anyone else relying on photos as documents its a disaster.

 
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Bennie Broughton
(Login bbrought)
HyperScale Forums
41.134.248.101

Disagree Completely

July 17 2017, 3:51 AM 

I love well done colourized pictures. They blow new life into old pictures from an era where it is impossible to go back with a modern camera. When marked as colourized (and face it, it is virtually always obvious when a picture is colourized - especially in cases where the original black-and-white picture is well known) then I fail to see how it can really deceive anyone.

I don't see how the discussion about beautiful black and white pictures is relevant - a colourized picture does not delete the original black and white picture. You can still look at the black and white picture anytime you want if you prefer that version more. Now you just have another option - you can look at the black and white picture or the colourized version.

By now I think most people understand the limitations. Just like I understand a colour profile of any aircraft is only as accurate as the artist's interpretation, I also know the same is true for a colourized photograph. In fact, there is little difference between colour profiles of old aircraft that don't exist anymore and colourized photographs.

Look at this guy's work for example (66misos). Unfortunately, he has been a photobucket victim, but the picture at the very top post on the board works and it is representative of the rest of his work:
http://massimotessitori.altervista.org/sovietwarplanes/board/index.php?board=55.0

Each picture took a lot of research and (to me) was about as interesting as following an online build. As I said, we all understand the final result is no more accurate than a colour profile (which he also makes), but I absolutely love the result. And you can always go back to the black-and-white picture if you want to see where it started from. His works in progress are here - or rather were there before Photobucket's actions:
http://massimotessitori.altervista.org/sovietwarplanes/board/index.php?board=56.0

Honestly, I don't want people like that to stop. I have a big collection of colourized photographs and as I said, I like the life they blow into old, well known black and white photographs. I know the limitations, but I love the results as much as I love virtually any type of art.

 
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Fernando Estanislau
(Login Stanhauser)
HyperScale Forums
191.249.36.15

other thoughts

July 17 2017, 2:51 PM 

First of all, let me tell you that I respect and read your words with great interest.
Also thank you for sharing your opinion on this matter. Let me try to comment your thoughts:

If you love well done colorized pictures, it is good for you and I have nothing to disagree or comment about your taste.
But, as I said before, most of them just look like unreal to my eyes.
As you say "when" it is marked as colorized - well, most of them are not marked or have the mark removed by people who distribute them, unfortunately.
When I say it can deceive people, it is because many of the subjects we do, for example camouflage or code letters, have rules for colors.
It once happened to my work: a guy on facebook started to change and post my profiles painting new colors on the letters of the airplanes I profiled.
If he had such idea, what to expect if he start to colorize black and white images? ( I believe that you know that German code letters had rules, don't you?)


My first point is about if a b&w photo is beautiful or not because I think that the majority of people who colorize wants them more eye catching.
However, in my opinion, they don't get better because someone added color on them.
During my time on the graduation in Art I learned to appreciate the range of grays, and I think they are just as beautiful as colored ones.
(or even more beautiful, take a look on Ansel Adams landscapes, for example).


A color profile is an attempt to show how were the colors of a subject, but its perception is detached from the original image, and I am sure the reader of a book understands it as interpretation.
In a book he usually has the original to compare and can reach his own conclusions.
The colorization, however, acts directly on the subject, creating a new image that also can not to be accurate.
Again the elimination of the shades of gray doesn't make the subject better, on contrary, in my opinion..


I have looked the image you mentioned (66misos) and still think that it looks like a bad print postcard.
The man seated has the same color on his face and hands, the areas of bare metal look like a xerox copy, and so on.
I am sorry, it is as ugly as it gets.


Best regards,


Fernando

 
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Mark Proulx
(Login 4709)
HyperScale Forums
50.65.144.40

Agree

July 17 2017, 7:19 AM 

I put colorized photos in the same category as document forgery.

Mark Proulx

 
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Bennie Broughton
(Login bbrought)
HyperScale Forums
41.134.248.101

Why?

July 17 2017, 7:51 AM 

Forged documents are usually created specifically for some illegal purpose. Most colourized pictures (of aircraft in this case, obviously) I have seen were done by the same type of people who make aircraft profiles and the purpose is to give their impression of what the scene would have looked like in colour. See my links above for examples of how much research and effort went into some of those projects. The majority of these works are clearly marked as colourized also, such as this guy:
http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/archives/cat_15496.html

Even when they are not marked as colourized, it is usually fairly easy to check either visually or from a simple online image search that will in most cases immediately find the original black and white picture.

Essentially, some of the people posting here appears to want to shut down a whole sub-hobby because some historian who is too lazy when checking his sources may possibly be deceived when he runs across a colourized picture on the internet.

I love a scene like the one below, and frankly consider it more inspirational than the original black and white picture. If you disagree and prefer the original B&W image, I guarantee when this guy did the colourization he did not delete the original from all records:
[linked image]


    
This message has been edited by bbrought from IP address 41.134.248.101 on Jul 17, 2017 7:51 AM


 
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Mark Proulx
(Login 4709)
HyperScale Forums
50.65.144.40

Distorts History

July 17 2017, 8:17 AM 

No doubt, there has been a proliferation of colorized photos. What happens when you actually come across a real color photo? Can you trust it or has it been manipulated? Now, its validity is called into question.

FWIW, I commend your photo above as the photo has been marked as colorized. However, that rarely happens and there is a risk that the colorized photo and the colors it depicts is accepted as historical fact. Sorry, it isn't...

Mark Proulx

 
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Bennie Broughton
(Login bbrought)
HyperScale Forums
41.134.248.101

I still don't agree

July 17 2017, 9:00 AM 

Distorts history? The photograph is real. The event is real. It is only the colours used by the artist (and that is what he is) that are in question. However, the original event didn't happen in black and white either - so it is not like the black and white is any more realistic than the reconstructed colours in depicting "history". As a viewer, you can look at the black and white and "imagine" for yourself what it really looked like, or you can look at an artists's impression of what it looked like. Either way, you have to get past the black and white somehow.

You wrote: "What happens when you actually come across a real color photo? Can you trust it or has it been manipulated?" Virtually every picture appearing on the internet has been manipulated in one way or another, from as little to get the white balance or exposure correct to blatant colour or even content manipulation. You should not trust pictures from the internet in the first place. If possible manipulation is your concern, colourization should be the least of your worries.

Some bleached colour photographs can be just as, if not more, confusing from a research perspective. For example, Eduard used a colour photograph of a South African Mirage IIICZ for the colour callouts in one of their early Mirage releases. The photograph they used appeared to show a brown and sand camouflage, which is what ended up in their instructions. However, we know the real thing actually had deep buff/green camouflage. I know for a fact Eduard was wrong because I saw the real thing myself and I know the colour photograph that they used is just wrong. And that picture was not deliberately manipulated by anyone. So in that particular case, the colour photograph was probably less reliable than an artist's painting of the same aircraft would have been. Colour researchers will always require the study of additional documentation even when genuine colour photographs are available.

As I said, personally I really like well done colourized photographs like the one that I posted above. I do not want to see that work stopped because someone is afraid it may confuse a lazy historian.


    
This message has been edited by bbrought from IP address 41.134.248.101 on Jul 17, 2017 9:00 AM


 
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Mark Proulx
(Login 4709)
HyperScale Forums
50.65.144.40

Trust The "Net??

July 17 2017, 9:42 AM 

I never said I trusted the net. The amount of money I spend buying original period photos (most in black and white) a testament to that...

As a viewer I would rather look at a black and white image and make my own assumptions w/o the bias provided by "the artist". However, that is my decision to make and hopefully I have learned to do that over years of study.

As stated above, the proliferation of colorized photos is a disaster that is creeping into accepted norms. Clearly the original event did happen and in color. However, the lazy historian (to use your term), of which there are far more than the serious historian, won't know the difference. That is cause for concern.

When I am purchasing historical reference books, the use of colorized photos will cause me to pass on the purchase.

Mark Proulx

 
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Darren Roberts
(Login Darren_Roberts)
HyperScale Forums
73.185.213.153

Using photos as evidence

July 17 2017, 9:40 AM 

I took a historiography class in college. One of our assignments was to prove an historical event occurred. Here's the kicker. My professor said that we could NOT use photos as primary evidence that the event happened, because photos could be manipulated. This was in the early 90's, before the widespread use of Photoshop. So even if a picture is colorized, it would have no bearing on historical fact from a historian's perspective, because they wouldn't be using photos as primary evidence anyway. In the bigger picture, the vast majority of people don't give a care about historical accuracy. It's like model building. You have the extremely small minority of builders who want everything as accurate as possible, and the rest who just want to build it and have fun.

 
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Fernando Estanislau
(Login Stanhauser)
HyperScale Forums
191.249.36.15

I do agree

July 17 2017, 3:16 PM 

I do agree, the historical research must be a balance of photos, documents and oral testimony.

However, what to do if a document says one thing, and the photo shows another?
Or what to do if the only proof that an event occurred is a single photo?

By the way I think that any document can be forged, it depends to the historian separate what is good from what is bad.
If you were one, would you accept a document made again by someone who thought that the original document wasn't well written?
Or if the interview with an eye witness was censored or, in the case of a transcription, had words added?
Would you accept a colorized image as proof of the real colors there?

happy.gif

Best regards,

Fernando

 
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Dave DeLang
(Login DaveDeLang)
HyperScale Forums
70.109.136.252

If it permanently destroyed the original I'd agree with you, as it is, why should you care

July 17 2017, 9:06 AM 


 
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David Nickels
(Login djnick66)
HyperScale Forums
65.33.79.222

Not going to happen - practice is as old as photography

July 17 2017, 9:17 AM 

Yeah it has gotten better but colorizing photos is nothing new. It predates photoshop by 100 years.

 
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Matt
(Login Scrodes)
HyperScale Forums
174.89.112.229

Yeah well that hasn't stopped people from posting "MAKE THIS KIT" threads

July 17 2017, 10:15 AM 

Which likewise has been going on for as long as the internet has been around. Not one single kit has been produced simply because it was asked for here, but those threads still pop up every 72 hours lol.

 
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