Over the past few weeks I've become more and more interested in colouring old historic black and white photographs but being a bit of a newbie to this technique I've been trying to learn how to make skin tones more convincing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, peoples skin isn't just one colour but made up of many different colours and shades. As I've learnt the key is not only identifying what colours to use but also how to blend them and apply so that they appear more realistic.
Thanks to a couple of tutorials I've read, whilst I certainly haven't mastered it, I now am starting to get a better understanding of how this works and have applied these techniques to an old American Civil War photo of Major General Ambrose Burnside.
Following a recent article on my website about colouring black and white photos I thought I'd have another go and found this photo of lunch carts on Broad Street in New York circa 1906. With lots of detail it was certainly going to involve a lot of masking and seeing as I ended up using 127 layers this was the most complex photo I've worked on so far.
As before I found the best result was to first convert the photo to CMYK instead of RGB. This photo was an interesting learning curve for me as I learned a couple of new skills about how to paint different layers of colours on top of each other and blend them together which is sometimes more accurate, natural looking and a faster way of working.
I have a few more photos in mind to work on next, one of which was taking during the Blitz but I think I will need to learn a couple more skills before I can complete these.
You can view a before and after of this photo below.
I have been going back over photos that I've shot over the past couple of years and rediscovered these I shot back in 2012. My wife and I had gone to Romford Dogs with some friends one evening and I couldn't resist the opportunity of taking my Canon EOS 5 35mm SLR along with me. Being a huge fan of Black & White I knew I wanted a high contrast emulsion and also wanted a fairly grainy one as that would lend itself to the subject. For me the ideal choice of film was Ilford HP5 ISO 400.
I've always been a fan of the iPhone but my iPhone 4 was running slower and slower and so needed to be replaced. Having had a couple of iPhones previously, owning an iPad and two Apple Mac's it made sense to stick with Apple and so I went with the iPhone 5S. The difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5S is huge. So much faster, better screen, better camera, 4G capabilities etc etc. To be honest when I got the iPhone 5S I hadn't realised that it can now shoot video in slow motion as I've never really used the video side of any of my phones. A couple of weeks ago though I found a use for this feature in my archery.
When I took up archery a couple of years ago I just bought a basic sight to get me a going, a Cartel Q Sight which I bought from Quicks. As a complete beginner there was little point in me buying anything better as at that stage a pin stuck in the side of the riser would have been good enough for me. However, although a big improvement over a pin, the Cartel Q Sight was not without it's problems. A common complaint with pretty much all Cartel sights is that they constantly shake themselves loose with some people saying they have to re tighten them after every arrow. I was fortunate that my sight would remain tight most of the time and 'only' required tightening once or twice a session. Unfortunately this was probably due to it being very stiff and meant that it was a nightmare to adjust. So around 8 months ago I started looking for a new sight, but which one should I buy?
I was reading an article a while ago about how artists are now 'converting' old black and white photos to colour by colouring them in Photoshop and some of the examples I've seen are truly stunning. One of my particular favourite artists is Swedens Sanna Dullaway who famously coloured various photos of historic people in history from Abraham Lincoln to Anne Frank. I am a huge fan of black and white photography and so was a little sceptical at the idea of adding colour as often it's the ommission of colour that makes the photograph work in the first place. However I am also deeply interested in history and the ability to 'see' the world in colour long before colour film existed was a very interesting concept. So I thought I'd give it a go myself.
Recently I wrote here about how I had started to shoot 35mm film again and that I had bought a Canon EOS 5. Well this seems to have really given me the bug for film as I now have a second 35mm camera to add to my collection. This one though couldn't be more different from EOS 5, it's a Russian built Fed 2 (Type C2) built around 1958 and I have to say that this little camera has blown me away. The Fed 2 is basically a clone of a Leica, or to put it more accurately the Fed 1 was a loose clone of the Leica I and the Fed 2 evolved from that. So similar is the Fed 2 to both the Leica I and Leica II that sadly it is not uncommon for fake Leicas to have been constructed from the body of a Fed 2. Whilst these little cameras do not offer the same quality of a Leica they are packed with charm and can produce some surprisingly good results and whilst a Leica can cost anywhere from £200 to £3000, you can pick up a Fed 2 for around £25.
Last weekend we visited Standen which is owned by the National Trust which is a lovely house set in beautiful grounds in East Grinstead, West Sussex. Not only is it a nice place to simply look around but it also meant that I could try and get a few photos of the many flowers there as I don't often photograph floral subjects.