Color my world

Riddle me this, Batman:

Batman is a registered trademark of DC Comics. DC Comics is a subsidiary of Warner Media, which is wholly owned by AT&T. Solid Signal is an AT&T Dealer. Take that, bloodsucking lawyers.

As I was saying, riddle me this, Batman:

Why is everyone so hot to trot about the Romanoffs? There is a series about their modern descendents on Prime Video. There are documentaries about them on Netflix. And now, there’s this, a whole page dedicated to incredibly detailed colorizations of the last large party they threw. The Romanoffs, or Romanovs as they can also be called, were the last big royal family of Europe, except for the other royal families, some of which are still out there and marrying Americans and having babies and such.

But it’s not about that.

It’s not about the family. It’s about the page I referenced earlier. It’s about these amazing pictures which really bring old black and white photos to life. These are artists’ renderings, really. We don’t know what colors were actually used here. It’s a guess.

But, for people who aren’t really comfortable with black-and-white photos, it makes these people come alive in a way which they never have before. It makes these people from the past… look like people.

Is colorization good or bad?

Colorization started coming about in the 1980s. Actually it had a much longer past than that. Artists had been hand-tinting photographs for 100 years at that point but the 1980s is when it began to become possible for films. At that point, colorization got quicker to do. Now it’s getting to the point that you can actually do it automatically.

In the early days of colorization there was a big backlash. Some people thought it hurt the integrity of the film. Most people just didn’t think it looked very good.

Colorization became a dirty word for decades but it seems like it’s back. Not so much for films — those older films are generally only for film buffs anyway. But, it’s helping a generation who didn’t grow up with black-and-white photography connect with images from the past.

Take a look at this gallery and see if you agree that these historical figures look more like they belong here in 2019 now that you’re seeing them in color.

Me, I’m an old guy.

I have no problem looking at black-and-whites and knowing that the people in the photos are real people. It doesn’t help me a lot to look at them in color. I do appreciate the effort that went into colorizing them, because I’ve done that sort of thing. In my opinion it’s great that people are investing a lot in old photos and bringing them to a new generation. I don’t think it “goes against the artist’s integrity” or whatever. A lot of times people just couldn’t afford or couldn’t get color film. It used to be pretty expensive. A lot of times people were shooting for newspapers that didn’t print in color.

I think, if you want to colorize, colorize. If you don’t want to look at colorized pics, don’t. What do you think?


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.