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Old 04-28-2011, 04:58 PM   #1
electile disfunction
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Default Why colorize (colourize) photos & film?

There are likely many answers to these questions and I would like to hear from everyone else.

1. Why colorize (colourize) other artists' black and white photos & film? Why is this worthwhile or necessary, please?

2. Supplementary question:
Why are sepia, green, and other single colours added to other artists' black and white photos & film, too, please?


I have long wondered these questions. It seems to me that the artists of these visuals created them to be portrayed in a specific medium and I am uncomfortable that we are being very presumptuous by altering them in (what seems) drastic ways.

What ideas and understanding might I be missing?

Please respond (and play nice!),
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:10 PM   #2
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Why colorize? To re-market and make money from them, of course. "The kids" today were brought up in a world without black & white; to them B&W is (groan!) old and boring. Their brains and attention have been conditioned not to work very hard - you (the vendor) have to reach out and grab 'em by the lapels.

As far as re-tinting B&W material, again it's a marketing gimmick. The odd, sinister quality this gives old material is an attention grabber - or so they believe...
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:24 PM   #3
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle View Post
Why colorize? To re-market and make money from them, of course. "The kids" today were brought up in a world without black & white; to them B&W is (groan!) old and boring. Their brains and attention have been conditioned not to work very hard - you (the vendor) have to reach out and grab 'em by the lapels.
(Lapels? It seems I need to go out and look at more modern kids! )
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Old 04-29-2011, 05:11 PM   #4
electile disfunction
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by doyle View Post
Why colorize? To re-market and make money from them, of course. "The kids" today were brought up in a world without black & white; to them B&W is (groan!) old and boring. Their brains and attention have been conditioned not to work very hard - you (the vendor) have to reach out and grab 'em by the lapels.

As far as re-tinting B&W material, again it's a marketing gimmick. The odd, sinister quality this gives old material is an attention grabber - or so they believe...
I agree with you that marketing is one possible perspective ... but there are people who do it for free (some here at VEF do it on request) so there must be more reasons than just that one.

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Old 04-29-2011, 10:14 PM   #5
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True, color is normal. We see in color; most of us, anyway. And while B&W conveys mood, color gives the impression of seeing things as they are. An illusion frequently exploited by people marketing pictures intended to arouse.
But it is interesting to see a compelling old photo " normalized" with color. It gives it an immediacy B&W doesn't have.
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:54 PM   #6
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I've been considering your responses and I notice that you neglected to mention the wishes (and possible rights) of the original artists whose works are being coloured.

Is cut-rate-marketing to an unappreciative audience worth the time and effort in this case? What if we were to take the "Mona Lisa", Avatar, or all Playboy products and make them black and white for that same reason ... is that acceptable then?

I think this is an important question as many photographers and film makers went to tremendous lengths to make their creations as they did. Even unceremoniously lopping off the sides of film to fit a standard 4:3 aspect ratio television screen is seen as an insult to many film makers.

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Old 05-08-2011, 04:37 AM   #7
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Default Replies to ED and some new points

"What if we were to take the "Mona Lisa", Avatar, or all Playboy products and make them black and white for that same reason ... is that acceptable then?"

I've seen this in reverse where "Vintage" sites [which seem to all show the same pics anyway] convert 70s and 80s colour pics into B&W in an effort to create more content.

"Even unceremoniously lopping off the sides of film to fit a standard 4:3 aspect ratio television screen is seen as an insult to many film makers."

This arouses one of my biggest peeves - which is the slicing off of the sides of old pictures. This is a very common occurance even among enthusiasts - just keep the body of the female in and cut out the surroundings on each side which gives the picture context. A lot of this happens in old nudist pics but even CC pics have sometimes suffered.

This results in what I call 'slivers' of pictures often little more that an inch wide but of full height. In early web days this may have been done to lessen the size of the file to be downloaded. Nowadays as we have become homophobic, leaving every part of the man out except for his dick may be the goal.

This is wandering maybe a little off topic but ED's comment on the use of sepia on old pics is not. I used to hate this but sometimes tolorate it now on poor quality pics - but not the unappetizing murky green/spew coloured jobs. Many of the originals have been ruined by over-exposure which makes them very bright because of far too much contrast. The dark parts including the pubic region get very dark and little can actually be seen.

This can be reversed to some extent but I've found that sepia can soften some harsh pictures. I've also experimented by changing the colour to flesh tones and it can be very effective and the appearance in some pics [usually close-ups] can be quite convincing. This is a step away from colourization but the trouble here is the exaggeration. These guys go to a lot of work but all too often the results are not convincing. Forget the 'artist's intent' - the photographers of the old under the counter work were not artists and colour was not used only because it was either not available or the cost was prohibitive.

I love the old pics but my motivication is a mixture of nostalgia [I first wanked off to pics like this] and prurient [I look for arousal purposes now too and the modern porn doesn't do the job]. Add to that the collecting instinct. I hope I've added a few points that will encourage more discussion.
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Old 05-08-2011, 05:30 PM   #8
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by electile disfunction View Post
There are likely many answers to these questions and I would like to hear from everyone else.

1. Why colorize (colourize) other artists' black and white photos & film? Why is this worthwhile or necessary, please?
Well in some cases the monochrome images and film were only filmed that way because it was cheaper or the only option - not necessarily as an artistic statement.

Therefore colourised versions can look more natural, and pleasing. People aren't really grey, after all. Not even John Major.
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Old 05-09-2011, 07:16 AM   #9
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In the digital age its fun to experiment. Many seem to enjoy the possibilities of variations. Obviously, some don't. Its a matter of personal taste. I've done quite a lot of color to B&W and sepia conversions but, mostly on request by those wanting to see the possibilities. I can understand where an artist may see their works distorted without their permission and take offense. I've also seen them take it as a compliment. They were pleased to see their works were interesting enough to experiment with by someone else, provided they were done skillfully. Selected color works can be interesting to some also (a mixture of B&W).

All these experiments/enhancements/conversions fuel imagination and explore possibilities, although, I do understand how some may place a greater value on a subjects original form.

Maybe a bit off topic but, this is one example of something I find fascinating. From a simple nude form to a piece of art (IMO). All effects added by the original artists. Possibly hideous or unnecessary to others but, quite intriguing to this viewer in its addition of textures along with colorization.

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Old 05-09-2011, 12:32 PM   #10
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From time to time the colourised version of "The Longest Day" is shown and to be honest it looks better and more gritty in black & white. I am not colourising old films is a good idea especially War films based on fact-they were pretty grim at the best of times but black & white brings home the horror and suffering a lot more than colour.
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