Restored Photographs Add Color to WWI

The production of restored photographs is on the rise as advances in technology make the process easier. With the centenary of WWI approaching, this has provided a topic of interest for such imagery, and an increase of war-related images has been seen. This has added a splash of color to photo documentation of the era, as more and more restored photographs are portraying wartime events in a level of detail never before seen.

Until now, the bulk of such imagery was relatively monochrome. Grey or sepia images were given details only by the occasional bit of black shadow. Given that the landscapes and the soldiers’ clothing were predominantly brown to begin with, the details in such images had a tendency to blend together. Through newly restored photographs, this problem has been mostly solved. Soldiers now pop out from the landscapes in a way that makes it much easier to discern one part of the image from another. This is especially useful in action shots, which rely heavily on the differentiation of one part of the image from another to form a full picture of what is happening.

Now, instead of a blurred muddle of brownish images, one can clearly discern images such as several soldiers hauling a wounded comrade through the mud. The colorization process is entirely digital, giving the restored photographs a modern look as if they were taken just recently. Each item in the picture is colorized individually, adding to the sense of detail in each picture. This especially helps in pictures where some of the details, such as carrier pigeons, are relatively small.

No two pictures generally take the exact amount of time to color in. Some pictures are rife with details, for instance pictures in which concentrated groups of soldiers are all bearing rifles and other equipment. This can cause the creation of restored photographs to take much longer, as every pixel will have to be painstakingly handled one at a time. While the work can be tedious and grueling, the end result is a picture in which every single detail can be seen without strain on the part of the viewer, the Mail Online reports.

The creation of restored photographs has become its own field, with masters in the art of digital restoration arising as demand for such images increases. Those who are best within this field make it difficult to determine when one is looking at a host of restored photographs or simply a collection of images which were already taken in such color. While some of these images may still appear to have something of a sepia tone, they still evoke a greater sense of presence than images which have not been treated in this manner.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE