Monday, March 21, 2011

Coloring the archives

Remember this post?


I had many readers comment on how lovely the old pictures were, and how amazing it is to look at photos taken almost 80 to a 100 years ago. The older women in their silk saris, the younger women in more modern synthetic saris with their ruched and ruffled lace borders......the men in their crisp white dhotis and kurtas.


But if you're like me, maybe you wondered....what color was that sari she was wearing? Was it a dark navy blue, a dull brick red, a soft pastel shade...? And that puffy blouse? Cream colored or dark to match the sari border? What were her favorite colors? Is that an orange sari my grandma is wearing? Did she love that color that she passed on the love of orange to me???


Black and white have their own vintage appeal, but color photos give us so many clues about that time. Today you have color forecasters that tell you what the hot color for the season is and the next thing you know everything from dinner plates to cushions to clothing is in that color. Was there a favorite color that everyone wore 60 years ago? If a maharani was spotted in pink, did everyone start wearing pink??? If the popular actress of the time wore a sari a certain way, did everyone copy that? I've always wondered......


Enter VAL ERDE! Artist, Britisher, bird lover, blogger, and more recently "old black and white photos toucher upper"!!!! Val e mailed me after she read my post, asking if she could color some of the pics I had posted. I'll be honest and admit I was a bit skeptical......would it look too artificial or "made up"? I took a look at her website and loved the few examples of her coloring work. 

So I promptly sent her 2 pics, Val did her thing on them and sent them back and I have to tell you I absolutely LOVE THEM! Here they are, tell me what you think.
This one
became this...
and this one....
turned into this....
What really struck me was how appropriate the coloring seems to that time. Not that I even have a clue as to what the original color of the clothing was, but if there had been color film available, THAT is what I would imagine the pic to look like.

This is what Val says about her work: "As you’ll have realised, I put a lot of thought into my colourings. And I try to combine my visual knowledge of the real world with my artistic experience to produce the results that I do."

Val would like to go semi-professional on this, and if you have any lovely old black and white pictures, or great family portraits from way back when, that you would like transformed into beautiful time appropriate color photos, contact her.

Val - thank you so much for doing this. I love them.

23 comments:

Sudha said...

looks beautful! treasure! :)

Anpu said...

The images have come out beautifully...tresure both the sets. The Silk sarees are gorgeous...:-) Btw, the yellow and red saree is soomething that my grandmother had...hopefully in a couple of weeks can share what i have done with that saree...

Once Upon A Tea Time said...

I actually have a set of black and white photographs that were colored in. They are not too old :), they are of my mother and I dressed in the traditional Kashmiri dress and it was taken in a studio in the 70's. We also have a colored-in version in which we are sporting the pinkest of lipsticks :). It always cracks me up to see it. I love how your posts connect, Kamini.

Amy Stempel said...

Wow! That is amazing! I, too, think the colors are perfect.

Sharon said...

Wow! great work...it's almost like she 'knew' the trends of that period!

Thanks for sharing, Kamini!

Anonymous said...

i think val does what any art history student would tell you - every period had a certain number of colors - in india i would think it would be mostly made of vegetables dyes or mud or roots - may be that is the reason why we see a lot of terraacottas and indigo blue or green, or black or muddy yellow than the neon colors which are more artifically made .

And these days what pantone deoes - what the next cool colors are,or what the trend is - for interior designers/textile industry to come up with products in those color and hence we see that in many houses for that period ? what natural organic colors naturally dictated by availability - today pantone is doing it - pairing it down to trends and fashion colors -- am i making sense or rambling...

anyway

Kamini said...

Anonymous - Making perfect sense :-)

Shanthi said...

Lovely post Kamini. The pictures look like a treasure collection

Anonymous said...

WOW! I have my great grandmother's photograph. I will ask my brother to see what can be done or I will do it when I am there. I love the two pictures. The first one could be one of any of the pictures in my house. The second looks more Kerala kind. At least to my extremely untrained eye. When it was in b/w I did not pay much attention to that, which is rather puzzling. The second picture with the more muted colors is my favorite as I 'think' it may be more true to the original while the first one is gorgeous with the red/brown and green cotton sarees.

My3

Srimanasa said...

Wow,,,u are one lucky lady Kamini :-). U have all the colours of the past with you now.

Val said...

Many thanks for doing this post, Kamini - and for letting me share your family for a little while and 'bring them to life' (which is how I think of my colouring work).

When working out which colours to use, I did think mostly in terms of vegetable dyes, but also I had a hunt online for examples of antique saris so that I could see what sorts of combination of colours were liked then. I'm very used to the sort of muted colours that were used for fashions and decor in the UK in Victorian and Edwardian times, but I didn't want to bring a British mentality to the colours of India as the two are so different. Brits tended to like very sombre colours and my experience of Indian colours is of liveliness and nature. To me, the difference is between shadow and sunlight - with the latter being India.

Shalini said...

Wow, they turned out absolutely stunning and so believable and authentic. Some of our old b/w family photos had been painted by hand and they look remarkably similar to these.

Sound Horn Please said...

Wow! She has got the colors so right! Muted, yet look so rich!

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

amazing!!! She has perfect taste and artistic sense!!

partialview said...

Val's colouring is perfect! I join the others in thanking you for sharing it with us, Kamini.

I looked around your blog and must say that there are a number of compliments due to you. It is a refreshing and intelligent world you have created here.

Priya

rk said...

I think Val did a phenomenal job. Until I saw the pics, I was a bit concerned that the colors might look artificial. That's what I saw in the past when old b/w pics were colored-in. Val did an absolutely phenomenal job with keeping with the times. I have tons of old b/w pics, let me see if I can afford to get them colored like yours. Thanks for this amazing post!

GB said...

They look so authentic--she's really done her homework here! Excellent job, Val!

Deepika said...

This is excellent - love this post - you are an inspiration to all closet bloggers like moi :)

Val said...

Did you get the pic I sent you, Kamini?

Crowing Crone Joss said...

These turned out so beautifully. A lot of skill, time, and a lot of thought went into this work. Kudos to Val.

Anu said...

Hi there

I loved this post on the colouring of vintage pics.

I run a blog (vintageindian clothing) on tumblr. I am planning to do a series on families in the near future and I would love to use the last one. With personal photos I don't host them unless I have permission. If its fine with you do let me know! I make sure all posts are properly credited and links provided. Happy to watermark too if required.

Thanks!
Anu

Kamini said...

Anu - please go ahead and use it as long as you just give credit/link back to this post. Thanks. Kamini

Anu said...

Thanks a lot Kamini! I will ensure it is credited.