Photo History

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sybaris, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Sybaris

    Sybaris TPF Noob!

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    I just acquired a couple old, old portraits of my ancestors. I "think" they are what is/was called hand-tinted or hand-colored portraits. I assume there is a b/w photograph underneath and color was added.

    Does anyone know when this method became popular? How long did it last? Is there a site devoted to the history of early photgraphy?

    thanks
     
  2. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Try this:

    http://www.handcolor.com/features/articles/history.asp
     
  3. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Aw, I just love old photos like those. Yes, there was no color photography in the early days so the portrait painters, who had originally feared and hated this new-fangled medium called "photography" because they thought it would drive them out of business, suddenly had a new way to make money. People looked at these "true" images of themselves and were not always gladdened by what the camera captured. Where were those rosy cheeks, those soft blue eyes?? :eek:

    So, oils were applied directly onto the photograph to bring back that color people missed. That's the beginning of handcoloring, or hand tinting, photos. Eventually, more chemically sound photo oils were developed that contained archival properties that didn't eat away at the paper but rather enhanced the image's durability - which is why we can still admire some of these photos today. Marshall's Photo Oils remain the best.

    Handcoloring now takes on many different forms. You can tint an image digitally if you like the idea of working only on your PC and not investing the time and money to learn the classic technique. Or, you can learn the technique and experiment with all kinds of coloring mediums: photo oils, oil sticks, pencils and pastels (chalks), markers - the list goes on.

    Mitica is right: Handcolor.com is an interesting site with articles and reference materials, though it's no longer the interactive site it once was. But it will point you in the right direction, and they have additional links, plus a bookstore online, and you can also purchase handcoloring materials from them (although your local arts supply store might be cheaper) if you're interested.

    As you can tell from my enthusiasm, I love this technique as an additional creative outlet that goes hand in hand with B&W photography, which I also love. Once you get bitten by the bug, look out! :wink:

    Have fun learning. Hope this helps!
     
  4. Sybaris

    Sybaris TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the advice.

    Yes, it is fascinating how well (and how bad) the coloring was added.
    For instance the two pictures in question. One was done really well. From 6ft away you would swear it was an old b/w photo. The other looks like a good rendering but no where near photo-like as the other.

    What I am hoping to do is determine an appx date for the picture of the woman. My gg-grandfather was married twice, once in 1862 and once in 1872 and nobody is really sure if the portrait of the woman is his 1st or 2nd wife. Since I have found that hand coloring was practiced btw 1840-1900 I may have to find someone who is an authority on period clothing.
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Fascinating! Good luck with that - only a 10 year difference in the marriages, so who knows how much styles really changed? Plus, were they likely to have kept up with styles? Town folk, country folk, well off or scrambling for money? So many things come into play here.

    Have you delved into your family tree? That's another avenue, and some people really get into it. It's amazing what you can find out. Again, good luck with all this! :D
     
  6. Sybaris

    Sybaris TPF Noob!

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    Yes, genealogy is something I'm heavily in to. I have binders and binders of documents pertaining to all branches of my family but all that info doesn't help in this instance. :(
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You have your work cut out for you, then.... but I appreciated the chance to babble on about handcoloring! :wink:
     
  8. BernieSC

    BernieSC TPF Noob!

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    for as long as photography has been around color prints are still fairly new compared to the how long the history of photograghy goes back. As late as the 1960's photo studios were doing hand tinting because that was basically the only way you could get a color print. Color chrome or slide film was the way the average consumer could get color images thats why if you have a history of old family images chances are you will probably find a lot of color slides because that was the color film of its time. Just like in the 1940's you will see mostly if not all prints were black and white but there were many people using color movie film because that is basically the same as slide film but on a smaller format and of course it was movies.

    its fun to look at some old tinted photos because the hand tinter would make notes on the back of the photo as to what color certain parts of the photo should be like colors in cloths and hair color etc...

    hand tinting like a lot of things in photography now have been made easier since computers have advanced so much. So almost anyone can learn to hand tint digitally. But its still fun to get tinting kids and hand tint true black and white prints. It still has a different look than digitally tinted photos.

    Its fairly easy to tint black and white now because of resign coated paper if you make a mistake just use the thinner and wipe it off and start over.

    But the hand tinters years ago could tint a photo and sometimes you would have to look close or not even be able to tell it was hand tinted but a true color print.

    Another lost art due to computers.
     
  9. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Nah....although it's possible, and a lot of people like it, there are still plenty of us traditional hand colorists out there. :wink: I would agree the photo oils remain superior in color and richness of tone to what I see done on a PC. And I've seen some very nicely done stuff done in photoshop. But traditional methods remain the most archival way to treat a print.

    btw, you can use fiber-based paper as well as resin-coated and still wipe everything off if you don't like what you've done, if you're using photo oils. All papers should be pre-treated before getting started to help ensure this.
     

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