Recently someone on Facebook posted a link to a series of historic black & white photographs which had been realistically colored using computer software. You can visit the article here:
I was surprised by my reaction to the photographs. They seemed to come alive for me emotionally in a way that I didn’t expect. As moving and artistic and full of “vintage charm” as black and white or sepia-toned photographs can be – and believe me, I love old photographs – seeing the past colorized in this realistic way made the captured events seem visceral… tangible… in a way they had never seemed to me.
I looked around on the web to find someone who did this kind of work. What I really wanted was to see some of my favorite family photographs redone in this way. To bring them from the distant past to the present, emotionally. I found a web site called scancafe.com which did a great job scanning some old family slides for me. I sent them a few photos to colorize, and I think they did an amazing job.
The first photo I had done was a photo of my great-great-grandparents, Heinrich and Bertha Krueger. When I opened the file I was just as thrilled as I had hoped:
I made Bertha’s eyes green, because green eyes are a Krueger trait that many members of the family carried or carry, including my mother. The first thing I did when I got the file was to blow it up until my grandparents faces were life-sized. It felt like looking into the eyes of someone I knew.
The next photo I had done was a photo of Bertha when she was a younger woman. This photo was probably taken about 1885, shortly after she came to America from Roggow, Pomerania, Prussia. As much as I love this photo, she seems even more lovely with her green eyes and beautiful grey dress.
This next photo is another of my favorites. It’s the photo of the Schmidt family taken in 1893 when they were reunited after the five sisters and their mother, Wilhelmine Winkelmann Schmidt, made the trip to America from their home town of Gornitz, Posen, Prussia. The textures of the clothing are really remarkable. I love how “real” the fabrics seem.
My great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt, c1908: