Tag Archives: color

Colorizing History

Historical events happened in full color. Yet, many of the photographs that captured most of our important collective, cultural moments were, and still are, in black and white. So, is right to have them colorized? An iconic image of a mushroom cloud over Bikini Atoll from 1946 shows the effect of colorization.

We would argue that while the process of colorization adds a degree of realism and fidelity to an image that would otherwise not exist as black and white in nature. However, it is no more true than the original photograph itself. A color version is merely another rendition of a scene through the subjective eyes of a colorist, however skilled. In the case of a black and white image it is perhaps truer to a historical period in the sense that it is captured and rendered by the medium of expression at the time. The act of recording an event, including how it is done, cannot be divorced from the event itself.

Original: A nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 25 July 1946. Photograph: Library Of Congress.

Colorized: Colorization of the Bikini Atoll nuclear explosion by Sanna Dullaway.

From the Guardian:

Do historic photographs look better in colour? The colorizers think so. Skilled digital artists such as Sanna Dullaway and Jordan J Lloyd are keen to remind us that the past was as colourful as the present – and their message is spreading though Reddit and Facebook.

See more images and read the entire article here.

Images courtesy of the Library of Congress and respective copyright holders.

Black and White or Color

Please forget Instagram, Photoshop filters, redeye elimination, automatic camera shake reduction systems and high dynamic range apps. If you’re a true photographer or simply a lover of great photography the choice is much simpler: black and white or color.

A new photography exhibit in London pits these contrasting media alongside each other for you to decide. The great Henri Cartier-Bresson would have you believe that black and white images live in a class of their own, far and above the lowly form of color snaps. He was vociferous in his opinion — that for technical and aeasthetic reasons only black and white photography could be considered art.

So, curators of the exhibition — Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour, have juxtaposed 10 of Cartier-Bressons prints alongside the colorful works of 15 international contemporary photographers. The results show that “the decisive moment”, so integral to Cartier-Bresson’s memorable black and white images, can be adapted to great, if not equal effect, in color.

The exhibit can be seen at Somerset House, London and runs from 8 November 2012 to 27 January 2013.

[div class=attrib]From Somerset House:[end-div]

Positive View Foundation announces its inaugural exhibition Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour, to be held at Somerset House, 8 November 2012 – 27 January 2013. Curated by William A. Ewing, the exhibition will feature 10 Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs never before exhibited in the UK alongside over 75 works by 15 international contemporary photographers, including: Karl Baden (US), Carolyn Drake (US), Melanie Einzig (US), Andy Freeberg (US), Harry Gruyaert (Belgium), Ernst Haas (Austrian), Fred Herzog (Canadian), Saul Leiter (US), Helen Levitt (US), Jeff Mermelstein (US), Joel Meyerowitz (US), Trent Parke (Australian), Boris Savelev (Ukranian), Robert Walker (Canadian), and Alex Webb (US).

The extensive showcase will illustrate how photographers working in Europe and North America adopted and adapted the master’s ethos famously known as  ‘the decisive moment’ to their work in colour. Though they often departed from the concept in significant ways, something of that challenge remained: how to seize something that happens and capture it in the very moment that it takes place.

It is well-known that Cartier-Bresson was disparaging towards colour photography, which in the 1950s was in its early years of development, and his reasoning was based both on the technical and aesthetic limitations of the medium at the time.

Curator William E. Ewing has conceived the exhibition in terms of, as he puts it, ‘challenge and response’. “This exhibition will show how Henri Cartier-Bresson, in spite of his skeptical attitude regarding the artistic value of colour photography, nevertheless exerted a powerful influence over photographers who took up the new medium and who were determined to put a personal stamp on it. In effect, his criticisms of colour spurred on a new generation, determined to overcome the obstacles and prove him wrong. A Question of Colour simultaneously pays homage to a master who felt that black and white photography was the ideal medium, and could not be bettered, and to a group of photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries who chose the path of colour and made, and continue to make, great strides.”

Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour will feature a selection of photographers whose commitment to expression in colour was – or is – wholehearted and highly sophisticated, and which measured up to Cartier-Bresson’s essential requirement that content and form were in perfect balance. Some of these artists were Cartier-Bresson’s contemporaries, like Helen Levitt, or even, as with Ernst Haas, his friends; others, such as Fred Herzog in Vancouver, knew the artist’s seminal work across vast distances; others were junior colleagues, such as Harry Gruyaert, who found himself debating colour ferociously with the master; and others still, like Andy Freeberg or Carolyn Drake, never knew the man first-hand, but were deeply influenced by his example.

[div class=attrib]Find out more about the exhibit here.[end-div]

[div class=attrib]Image Henri Cartier-Bresson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.[end-div]

The Benefits and Beauty of Blue

[div class=attrib]From the New York Times:[end-div]

For the French Fauvist painter and color gourmand Raoul Dufy, blue was the only color with enough strength of character to remain blue “in all its tones.” Darkened red looks brown and whitened red turns pink, Dufy said, while yellow blackens with shading and fades away in the light. But blue can be brightened or dimmed, the artist said, and “it will always stay blue.”

Scientists, too, have lately been bullish on blue, captivated by its optical purity, complexity and metaphorical fluency. They’re exploring the physics and chemistry of blueness in nature, the evolution of blue ornaments and blue come-ons, and the sheer brazenness of being blue when most earthly life forms opt for earthy raiments of beige, ruddy or taupe.

One research team recently reported the structural analysis of a small, dazzlingly blue fruit from the African Pollia condensata plant that may well be the brightest terrestrial object in nature. Another group working in the central Congo basin announced the discovery of a new species of monkey, a rare event in mammalogy. Rarer still is the noteworthiest trait of the monkey, called the lesula: a patch of brilliant blue skin on the male’s buttocks and scrotal area that stands out from the surrounding fur like neon underpants.

Still other researchers are tracing the history of blue pigments in human culture, and the role those pigments have played in shaping our notions of virtue, authority, divinity and social class. “Blue pigments played an outstanding role in human development,” said Heinz Berke, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Zurich. For some cultures, he said, they were as valuable as gold.

As a raft of surveys has shown, blue love is a global affair. Ask people their favorite color, and in most parts of the world roughly half will say blue, a figure three to four times the support accorded common second-place finishers like purple or green. Just one in six Americans is blue-eyed, but nearly one in two consider blue the prettiest eye color, which could be why some 50 percent of tinted contact lenses sold are the kind that make your brown eyes blue.

Sick children like their caretakers in blue: A recent study at the Cleveland Clinic found that young patients preferred nurses wearing blue uniforms to those in white or yellow. And am I the only person in the United States who doesn’t own a single pair of those permanently popular pants formerly known as dungarees?

“For Americans, bluejeans have a special connotation because of their association with the Old West and rugged individualism,” said Steven Bleicher, author of “Contemporary Color: Theory and Use.” The jeans take their John Wayne reputation seriously. “Because the indigo dye fades during washing, everyone’s blue becomes uniquely different,” said Dr. Bleicher, a professor of visual arts at Coastal Carolina University. “They’re your bluejeans.”

According to psychologists who explore the complex interplay of color, mood and behavior, blue’s basic emotional valence is calmness and open-endedness, in contrast to the aggressive specificity associated with red. Blue is sea and sky, a pocket-size vacation.

In a study that appeared in the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills, researchers at Aichi University in Japan found that subjects who performed a lengthy video game exercise while sitting next to a blue partition reported feeling less fatigued and claustrophobic, and displayed a more regular heart beat pattern, than did people who sat by red or yellow partitions.

In the journal Science, researchers at the University of British Columbia described their study of how computer screen color affected participants’ ability to solve either creative problems — for example, determining the word that best unifies the terms “shelf,” “read” and “end” (answer: book) — or detail-oriented tasks like copy editing. The researchers found that blue screens were superior to red or white backgrounds at enhancing creativity, while red screens worked best for accuracy tasks. Interestingly, when participants were asked to predict which screen color would improve performance on the two categories of problems, big majorities deemed blue the ideal desktop setting for both.

But skies have their limits, and blue can also imply coldness, sorrow and death. On learning of a good friend’s suicide in 1901, Pablo Picasso fell into a severe depression, and he began painting images of beggars, drunks, the poor and the halt, all famously rendered in a palette of blue.

The provenance of using “the blues” to mean sadness isn’t clear, but L. Elizabeth Crawford, a professor of psychology at the University of Richmond in Virginia, suggested that the association arose from the look of the body when it’s in a low energy, low oxygen state. “The lips turn blue, there’s a blue pallor to the complexion,” she said. “It’s the opposite of the warm flushing of the skin that we associate with love, kindness and affection.”

Blue is also known to suppress the appetite, possibly as an adaptation against eating rotten meat, which can have a bluish tinge. “If you’re on a diet, my advice is, take the white bulb out of the refrigerator and put in a blue one instead,” Dr. Bleicher said. “A blue glow makes food look very unappetizing.”

[div class=attrib]Read the entire article following the jump.[end-div]

[div class=attrib]Image: Morpho didius, dorsal view of male butterfly. Courtesy of Wikipedia.[end-div]