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Grace in Color: 1920

Grace in Color: 1920

A colorized version of this 1920 photo of actress Grace Valentine by the Bain News Service. View full size. More in the Colorized Gallery.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Color Me Gone

I always prefer seeing the pics in black-and-white and letting my imagination take over, but I do view the colorized versions. I don't like them, but I will take a glance.

It's like driving by a nasty car accident or seeing your kindergarten teacher naked (just random theorizing). Don't like, but due to intrigue will take a peek.

Colourized vs the Original Photo

If you prefer bright modern colour and do not really appreciate the older photos for just what they are, their depth, what they tell us and just how wonderful they are, you can always look at modern photos, no?

Dave you colourize very well, the best I have ever seen, which is like being a charismatic cult leader. Get me?

--what about a link to the original on the page when a colourized pic is posted or the other way around.

[For each of the colorized photos, there already is a link to the original image. (Doesn't anyone read the captions?) Also I am not the colorizer of any of these pictures. The name of the poster is above each image. - Dave]

What Pictures???

"All you do is ruin the historical value of the pics you mess with." Now, waita minnit! The reaction of Tipster seems to assume, despite all reassurances, that actual historical photos, the for-real original prints or negatives, are being colored. Only that action could ruin their historical value. Descending to personal information beyond that on my member bio, I am a former museum curator with more than 35 years in art history and historical preservation and conservation behind me. Like my colleagues in many other museums and archives, a huge hunk of my life has been given to preserving "historical value" wherever I can. I mention this only to provide context when I say, "Honey-Lamb, lighten up!" What's being colored is DIGITAL SCANS of historical photos, a bunch of ones and zeros in a computer hard drive, not photos. This is Virtual Reality only. History is not being messed with or destroyed. What's happening here is that ideas about history are being presented and discussed. No "real" historical artifacts are involved except as a starting point of reference for the discussion. If some of these ideas are so unpleasant to you, Turn The Page. All the photos that have been colored are waiting for you in their original states (less some scratches and fading and ugly spots digitally removed for presentation), miraculously unharmed.

Tempest in a polychrome teapot

Yes, I don't like colorized films. It does break up some fond memories of watching black-and-white vintage films. On the other hand I had to admire the way you reproduce the color scheme of most magazines of the period. The colors are that of some 1950's Playboy centerfold. Well done Dave. Photography is Art and always has been.

[Thank you but -- let's note that this is Fredric's work, not Dave's. - Dave]

Stop coloring these pictures!!!

I must put in my two cents worth. Please stop coloring these pictures! To you it just seems like an interesting job, fun for a bit and then thrown away. To me, all you do is ruin the historical value of the pics you mess with. Please find another hobby, like pulling wings off birds, to play with....

[Might it be time for a switch to decaf? - Dave]

Fine looking lady.

Someone's grandmother or great-grandmother was a fine looking lady. She also has a pleasant demeanor about her. I think I would have liked her! Colorization? Who cares I like it.

Innocent Merriment

Old documentary photos from the Library of Congress are not black and white "works of art" by Ansel Adams or Frank Capra, even though some of the brilliant photos by many documentary photographers (Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee et al) later came to be seen as high art, and rightly so. As Dave keeps saying, the originals are intact, and all have been seen here first in all their original panchromatic grayscale splendor. But the world that monochrome photos and newsreels recorded was not Dorothy Gale's Kansas, and many of us enjoy imagining the color-saturated world of our ancestors. Go for it, colorists! Get it right, or not -- who's to say, and who cares? It's simply another part of the fun, and you're getting pretty good at it. No photographers or their reputations were harmed in the making of these pictures, unlike, say, a dumb colorized version of the Kansas scenes in the Wizard of Oz.

Tint Camp

In anpther thread someone said the tones of this photo -- particularly skin -- were too bold. Quite right, if the goal were realism or an accurate reproduction of Ms. V. as she lived and breathed.

OTOH, I find this colorization quite pleasing as it is; after all, she was allegedly an actress, and these tonal values sure look like a period movie poster!


Ok, very clever, but an abomination none the less. Colourisation has no place on this blog, or anywhere else in the known universe. Please post the original.

[Somebody's not paying attention. Read the caption, click the link, see the original. - Dave]

Color me impressed

Yes, great job. I still have my set of photo oils & pencils and have gotten good results from time to time. I've never really gotten the hang of getting the "right" look using photoshop.


It would be interesting if we can find out, from Akvis, how many hits they get today and how many they would normally get. I visited the site just to see how it works, but I don't have many black and white photos.

Best colourizing I've ever seen

Nice work Fredric. You avoided those awful tobacco and lilac-y colours often used. Very natural looking.

You should run with this skill of yours.

Akvis Coloriage

Frederick, thank you for sharing the name of the program you use. I am webmaster for an historical society and have been instrumental in providing photograph displays for the society at a local library. I have applied for the Akvis free license program for the society. My plan is to use colorized versions of historic photos alongside the black and white versions.

Wonderful job!

That is a great job Fredric. I would like to see a photo of Atlanta during the Civil War colorized if it is possible. I look at the old black and white photos and Atlanta looks so drab and it would be great to see it in true to life color.

Robert Brock

Akvis Coloriage

Thanks for all the compliments! I never expected my work would get such recognition here! The software I use is called Coloriage by Akvis. It comes as a standalone application and/or a plugin for Photoshop and many other photo-editing programs. The site has a short movie showing how easy it is to use.

Coloriage has a selection of colors for complexions, hair, eyes, lips, etc., plus wood, sky, water, fabric, bricks, and so on. You can save your color strokes if you want to exit the program and resume the coloring later. When you're ready to color the photo, just click one button and the job is done. You can load another copy of the same black and white photo, reload the saved strokes, and then change the color of any of them very easily.

And no, I'm not affiliated with the Akvis company at all nor am I being paid for these remarks.

Miguel Chavez asked how I know what color to give each pixel. I just use my intuition. It's all guesswork. I put on a color and then view the results. If it doesn't look right, I select another one. Sooner or later I get realistic colors. It's fun.

Most impressive!

I definitely must congratulate you on this fine job of colorizing these old pictures. It's amazing! they really look natural and unlike the hand-colorized photos I know, in these you don't see the underlying black and white pixels.

How do you determine what color should be given to each pixel? How do you do this?? It's definitely impressive!

Was this photo taken...

before the invention of the pedicure? That left foot looks like it needs a little TLC.

I used to colorize my black and white photos with Marshall oils, a slow tedious process, using Q-Tips and patience. Photoshop has changed just about everything I suppose. Yet this photo looks to either be hand tinted or slightly off due to the green hue on the lower edge of the seat slab. The blue pottery job is very nice.

Color or B/W, it still hurts to look at her feet.

Nice colorization work and Grace was a stunner, but it still causes me pain to look at her misshapen tootsies. Ouch!! My 50 year old male feet with 30 years spent in steel-toed boots look healthier.

A Fine Job

A fine job of colorizing. It is interesting to compare the colorized photos in the gallery with the black & white counterparts. Would you share the name of the program you use for colorization?

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