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  • To colorize or not to colorize. That is the question.

    Just as there is intense controversy in whether or not to colorize films, so I continue to feel angst in colorizing classic baseball photos.

    Don't get me wrong. Some of my colorizing baseball photos have turned out spectacularly. Others not so much.

    I want to start off by showing my best efforts, and then my borderline results, and ask for some feedback.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-15-2012, 09:14 AM.

  • #2

    Detroit sports writer, Malcolm Bingay, bottom, right.

    Connie Mack



    Sports Writers: Si Burick of Dayton------------------------------------------------------------Pete Williams (NYC)---------------------------------------------------Jimmy Cannon (NYC)

    Sports Writers: Howard Mann (Chicago)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Wayne Otto (Chicago)




    Henry Chadwick----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ford Frick
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-25-2012, 02:19 PM.

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    • #3


      Sports Writers: Allison Danzig (NYC)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Heywood Broun (NYC).

      John B. Foster (NYC): sports writer, administrator, editor of Spalding Baseball Guide.




      Taylor Spink (St. Louis), Editor of the Sporting News, 1940.

      Babe Ruth/Miller Huggins:




      1916 Brooklyn Dodgers' out-fielders: Casey Stengel, Jimmy Johnson, Hy Myers, and Zack Wheat.
      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-25-2012, 02:21 PM.

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      • #4
        ------------------------------Edd Roush-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Zack Wheat



        -------------2 shots of Eddie Roush




        Sports Writers: Grantland Rice---------------------------------------------------------------Frank Graham----------------------------------------------------------------------------Harold Parrott

        Charlie Gehrigner




        Joe DiMaggio and wife/Abbot and Costello
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-15-2012, 10:13 AM.

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        • #5
          Alright, then. I've shown some of the stuff that turned out real well. Now I want to show some stuff that I am not nearly so sure of. Where the results can be argued back and forth, and where black and white is also gloriously magnificent.

          The following photos, in my opinion, are absolutely gorgeous, in all their black and white splendor, like the shadows of film noir.


          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-25-2009, 04:07 PM.

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          • #6
            Bill,

            I was never a fan of colorizing because it's too limited. It doesn't really add color like a real color photo does. Most of the people look like they have a bad sunburn on their faces. I think the best we can do is to just try to make black and white photos look as clear as possible. Anyway, that's my :twocents:
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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            • #7
              Well, that's what I'm getting to, but I'm not there yet. There are some photos that I just might go back and take the red out of the faces.

              But the ones I've posted so far, you think their faces are not good either? That's ok if you think so, but I'd be surprised.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                Well, that's what I'm getting to, but I'm not there yet. There are some photos that I just might go back and take the red out of the faces.

                But the ones I've posted so far, you think their faces are not good either? That's ok if you think so, but I'd be surprised.
                Take a look at a real color photo form the 1930s-40's. Even then the color was bright and clear. Colorized B/W photos never have that crisp and clear and diverse colors. Check out his photo. It is clear and sharp. It looks like it was taken last week. Guess when this photo was taken? Even the best colorizing process doesn't come close to making a B/W photo into a nice color photo.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 08-25-2009, 05:25 PM.
                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                • #9
                  I think you're missing my point. Of course a real color photo is infinitely superior to anything that is not a real color photo.

                  I'd be the very last person to argue against that. But you're not getting the point of this thread.

                  Are b/w always superior to supia shots? All I'm doing is adding sepia with some facial color. And I agree that some of the facial color I used is bad.

                  But many, many others turned out great. Take a look at the second photo I posted. It's of Connie Mack. Now - look at the b/w version. Are you telling me you prefer the b/w version?

                  But I'm not saying that color always is better. The last photos I showed might be argued either way. I can understand if someone likes the b/w of Matty, Pete and Collins better.

                  I would guess that your color photo was taken in the late 40's. I don't even think color photos were invented until 1937, and they didn't come into widespread vogue in baseball until around 1947 or so. We have almost nothing before WWII, even though the technology existed.

                  Whenever I have a choice between real color and anything else, I have never used anything but real color. Not sure what your point was here, Adam.
                  Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-26-2009, 06:46 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                    I think you're missing my point. Of course a real color photo is infinitely superior to anything that is not a real color photo.

                    I'd be the very last person to argue against that. But you're not getting the point of this thread.

                    Are b/w always superior to supia shots. All I'm doing is adding sepia with some facial color. And I agree that some of the facial color I used is bad.

                    But many, many others turned out great. Take a look at the second photo I posted. It's of Connie Mack. Now - look at the b/w version. Are you telling me you prefer the b/w version?

                    But I'm not saying that color always is better. The last photos I showed might be argued either way. I can understand if someone likes the b/w of Matty, Pete and Collins better.

                    I would guess that your color photo was taken in the late 40's. I don't even think color photos were invented until 1937, and they didn't come into widespread vogue in baseball until around 1947 or so. We have almost nothing before WWII, even though the technology existed.

                    Whenever I have a choice between real color and anything else, I have never used anything but real color. Not sure what your point was here, Adam.
                    Oh, I guess I really don't have a point. But seriously, I misunderstood your previous point. I guess I'm not a big fan of colorizing when it doesn't do the photo justice. But some of your colorized photos are pretty good.

                    The photo I posted is from WW II. She's one of the "Rosie the Riveter" ladies that worked in the factories to support the war effort. I'd love to meet her if she is still alive.
                    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                    • #11
                      Well, don't feel bad, Adam. I'm not beating you up. In fact, I would probably agree with you on a lot of the photos.

                      This subject is much deeper than is obvious. I have spent the last several months trying to make the photos I've brought to Fever better. But that is a complex issue.

                      Whenever I tackle a photo, I always adjust the light/dark aspect, and the contrast. Those issues are essential. I always must do that before I even think of adding color.

                      One of the most amazing things I've discovered, is that when the light/dark is adjusted, one can see for the first time things in the background that was invisible to the eye for all those decades!! I was astounded to find that out!

                      In fact, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I will show an example.

                      Another of the amazing things I've discovered is that the sepia tone I use shows the background in a truly amazing way. It's as if someone turned on the lights. It shows the stadiums and the people in them that were nothing but a dark blur before. That is one of the big reasons I became a big fan of sepia.

                      You just can't see things without it. It makes invisible things visible. Notice in the photos below just how much easier it is to see the background details. Look at that desk with its stuff.

                      But it does have some drawbacks, which is what gives me angst. One of the drawbacks is that the sepia I use is a beautiful brownish wash. It is ravishing in showing invisible stuff, but everything ends up brown that maybe was not really brown.

                      All the suits and overcoats turn out brown, when maybe they were actually navy blue. And if I don't use pinkish facial tone, the sepia gives everyone brown eyes. In some of my photos, Connie Mack has brown eyes, when he really had blue eyes. So, sepia isn't the be-all answer to everything.

                      But the big advantage is that it allows one to see stuff that they would not see otherwise.

                      Look at the second photo in Post 3. Notice how much of the articles on the desk of John B. Foster are clearly shown in the sepia photo. So much more clear.

                      So, now I will show a photo that illustrates my point.

                      Chicago Cubs' owner, Phil Wrigley.


                      Detroit sports writer, Bud Shaver.

                      Babe Ruth:

                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-15-2012, 12:38 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Personally, I like what you've done Bill, I like the sepia :bowdown:
                        Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RuthMayBond View Post
                          Personally, I like what you've done Bill, I like the sepia :bowdown:
                          Thanks, Jeffrey. I think the biggest virtue in adding sepia is how much more you can see.

                          Look at the last photo in post 3, of the baseball game. In the original b/w, the top of the grandstands is blacked out. Add a little color, and suddenly, after almost 100 years, we can see the fans high in the stands.

                          Like magic, as if someone turned on the lights. That was what convinced me to see how much more I could show, without ruining anything.
                          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-05-2009, 06:38 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                            Are b/w always superior to supia shots? All I'm doing is adding sepia with some facial color. And I agree that some of the facial color I used is bad.
                            I wouldn't even call your technique "colorizing", but rather selective tinting. Frankly I don't see the point of tinting a Cincinnati Reds player's face pink while leaving the words on his jersey and everything else sepia-toned. If you're going to tint, tint everything, otherwise it just looks like you're being lazy, IMO.

                            Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                            But many, many others turned out great. Take a look at the second photo I posted. It's of Connie Mack. Now - look at the b/w version. Are you telling me you prefer the b/w version?
                            I would prefer the B&W version. If you sepia-toned and pink-faced Dr. Strangelove I would prefer the original version as well.

                            Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                            I don't even think color photos were invented until 1937
                            Color photography has been around since the 1870s, however it wasn't really perfected for commercial use until the mid 1930s with Kodak's development of Kodachrome 16 and 35 mm film.

                            Some Hollywood movies were filmed in color as early as the late 1920s--even before talkies. Here is a snippet of Dr. X from 1932.

                            And here are three gorgeous color photographs from 1910 and 1911 by Russian photography pioneer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. One could only imagine if Sergei was able to photograph baseball at that time...
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by jnakamura; 08-28-2009, 10:48 AM.
                            I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game.
                            - Walt Whitman

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jnakamura View Post
                              I wouldn't even call your technique "colorizing", but rather selective tinting. Frankly I don't see the point of tinting a Cincinnati Reds player's face pink while leaving the words on his jersey and everything else sepia-toned. If you're going to tint, tint everything, otherwise it just looks like you're being lazy, IMO.
                              You are 100% accurate in that I am not 'colorizing' a photo. I am indeed 'selectively tinting'. Perfect description of what I am doing.

                              The reason and logic of what I am doing is that I am technically ignorant of further tinting. I know how to apply a sepia tone, and a pinkish facial tint.

                              I feel bad that I, at this present moment, do not know how to tint a baseball uniform. I wish to heaven someone teaches me soon. Sepia works well as a general generic tone but is far, far inferior to actual color. No one is more aware of that than I. I am only recently come to Photoshop skills. Not long ago, I knew not how to lighten/darken, contrast or tint.
                              Originally posted by jnakamura View Post
                              I would prefer the B&W version. If you sepia-toned and pink-faced Dr. Strangelove I would prefer the original version as well.
                              I respectfully disagree, and can't fathom your opinion. But oh well. To each their own.
                              Originally posted by jnakamura View Post
                              Color photography has been around since the 1870s, however it wasn't really perfected for commercial use until the mid 1930s with Kodak's development of Kodachrome 16 and 35 mm film.

                              Some Hollywood movies were filmed in color as early as the late 1920s--even before talkies. Here is a snippet of Dr. X from 1932.
                              Again, you are correct.
                              Originally posted by jnakamura View Post
                              And here are three gorgeous color photographs from 1910 and 1911 by Russian photography pioneer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. One could only imagine if Sergei was able to photograph baseball at that time...
                              It is amazing that that person achieved such wonderful results in 1910. Wish we had him at American ballparks back then! We surely needed his skills.
                              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-29-2009, 07:42 AM.

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