Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Coloring the Past

(This is a post I originally wrote three years ago)

I’m at a bit of a wall right now (I refuse to call it writer’s block—even if that’s what it is), so I’ve been playing on Reddit and I’ve found the most amazing page there. On this page, members take old photographs and colorize them. Now, when the old black and white movies were colorized, I wasn’t all that impressed. I am, on the other hand, impressed by a lot of the photographs here. (http://www.reddit.com/r/ColorizedHistory/)

I spent the better part of an hour wasting time and looking at pictures. I was impressed by several things—the least of which was the clarity of the photographs. Colorized or not, the clarity was just incredible. Details such as individual hairs and even the texture of skin was visible in many of these old photos. Who knew that those old photos could capture such detail?

I looked at a lot of Civil War era photos and was impressed with the gravity the subjects seemed to carry. Because of the photographic process of the period a smile would be almost impossible to hold, yet there was a deep sense of gravitas that each subject brought to the sitting. It just wasn’t that they didn’t want to try to hold a smile for several long seconds and try not to move at the same time. It was something else in these pictures, something deeper, more profound. Many of the portraits taken of these men were the only photographs that would ever be taken of them in their lifetimes. Very few families could afford photographs and I think many of these young men—despite the brash claims of a war being over in six months and being home by Christmas—understood that war can be and is deadly. Part of that gravity in those photographs was the fear they were trying to mask.

Anyway, go take a look. The images are amazing and humanizing.

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