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Jan 19 2012

Colorized Darwin

There wasn’t much color photography in Darwin’s day, so all the photos we have of him are in black and white (or sepia). Here’s a site with some skillful retouching of old photos to add color…and a new version of a familiar image.

(Also on Sb)

50 comments

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  1. 1
    madtom1999

    Why? It adds nothing and possibly hides something as it is a false representation of the man.
    I beleived he smokd a pipe so his beard and tache would have been yellowed for a start.

  2. 2
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    I have to say that I didn’t know that Abe Lincoln was abandoned as a boy after London bombings…

  3. 3
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    What I find baffling is that this album of colourisations contains not only photos from the black-and-white era, but also contemporary portraits (like the one of Karin Boyes, in 1993) that use b&w as an artistic statement.

  4. 4
    chigau (違う)

    Is it true that Ted Turner was going to colorize The Wizard of Oz?

  5. 5
    sirbedevere

    Well, there’s the photographic equivalent of changing the lyrics to Imagine. Is there no art that someone isn’t eager to deface in the name of “improving” it? (Probably not.)

  6. 6
    JimB

    @chigau (同じ)

    Dorothy in OZ was shot in color. Dorothy in Kansas was in B&W.

    He colorized Gone with the Wind (among others).

  7. 7
    marko

    I never realised he wore so much make up, and that velvet wallpaper looks expensive.

  8. 8
    Matt Penfold

    He colorized Gone with the Wind (among others).

    Why ?

  9. 9
    ChasCPeterson

    well, it pisses me off when they colorize electron micrographs too.

    Calvin’s dad

  10. 10
    Ing

    Dorothy in OZ was shot in color. Dorothy in Kansas was in B&W.

    He colorized Gone with the Wind (among others).

    Really? I had been told it was before color film so they actually painted each frame.

    http://www.wendyswizardofoz.com/FAQ00037.htm

    Funny how these little things are just accepted when you’re a kid

  11. 11
    jimmauch

    iPad Desktop in B&W

    flickr.com
    Darwin-I think 1024×768

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/45454623@N00/5454799472/in/set-72157626077139612/lightbox/

  12. 12
    HaggisForBrains

    I have cine film my amateur father shot in 16mm colour in the late 1930s. It has a slightly “washed out” look to it, but is genuine colour.

  13. 13
    julietdefarge

    Attention Malcolm McDowell, this is where you’re headed.
    http://i2.listal.com/image/1226040/600full-malcolm-mcdowell.jpg

    Gone with the Wind was shot in color. List of early color films here: http://www.films101.com/earlycy.htm

  14. 14
    ikesolem

    Time to sacrifice a goat as we all ask blessings of Saint Darwin!

    But really, worshiping Darwin in the modern molecular biology era just doesn’t make much sense. Why? See this:

    “Equating evolution with Charles Darwin ignores 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution.”

    You might as well have a big retouched photo of Gregor Mendel – except that he was a monk at some Augustinian order in what is now Czechoslovakia – not a fit subject of worship for atheists, I suppose?

  15. 15
    chigau (違う)

    Colorizing The Wizard of Oz is an old joke from the Time of Turnerizing.
    The first few minutes and the last few minutes of Oz, where the action takes place in Kansas, are black-and-white.
    Everything in OZ is in colour.
    Colorizing the Kansas would be silly.
    See? Funny, eh?

  16. 16
    Anthony K

    What? Fucker was white?!

  17. 17
    Anthony K

    You might as well have a big retouched photo of Gregor Mendel – except that he was a monk at some Augustinian order in what is now Czechoslovakia – not a fit subject of worship for atheists, I suppose?

    Yes, that’s why his contributions to genetics are completely ignored by secular science.

    But thanks for the tip on worship. Was that comment your homage to gods of stupidity?

  18. 18
    Glen Davidson

    What we need are photos that are fully evilized. With all of the wickedness and puss-filled God-hatred that infested Darwin’s soul.

    The DI will likely get on that right away.

    Glen Davidson

  19. 19
    cnocspeireag

    Ikesolem, that was a particularly silly article in the NYT, wasn’t it? In case you have no scientific education, may I spell it out for you? Real scientists don’t refer to ‘Darwinism’. That’s used by total dickheads and professional liars.

  20. 20
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    madtom1999

    I’m almost positive that Darwin didn’t wear a jacket that said “mygrapefruit” on it as well.

  21. 21
    cnocspeireag

    BTW, the uniform brown coloration of the waistcoat (vest) doesn’t look plausible to me.

  22. 22
    Glen Davidson

    But really, worshiping Darwin in the modern molecular biology era just doesn’t make much sense.

    Why yes, no past person’s visage has been of interest to anyone unless the person was being worshipped. True, people have done their best to work out how Washington and Napoleon actually looked, but of course that’s all about worshiping them.

    Say Ike, do you know Stuart Wilde?

    You might as well have a big retouched photo of Gregor Mendel – except that he was a monk at some Augustinian order in what is now Czechoslovakia – not a fit subject of worship for atheists, I suppose?

    Yeah, it’s not like Mendel is an icon in biology. Google wouldn’t have celebrated his birthday, science magazines don’t mention him.

    In all seriousness, Darwin is more outsized today than he likely would be because, oh, I don’t know, maybe the stupid a-holes who despise him, accuse him of trying to get rid of God, etc. I guess if you’re completely stupid you wouldn’t have noticed it.

    Glen Davidson

  23. 23
    littlejohn

    Santa Claus invented evolution????

  24. 24
    Usernames are smart

    Worship
    noun/verb

    • reverent homage paid to a deity or sacred person (or object)
    • great reverence: the GOP worships corporations and the goal of personal accumulation of wealth at the expense of others

    Reverence
    noun
    • great respect tinged with an overwhelming feeling of power
    • veneration

  25. 25
    marcus

    Serendipitously I am in the middle of happily selling a 12 year-old young woman Alan Gibbons’ “Charles Darwin”. Her grandmother is offering to buy her any book in the store and she picked “Charles Darwin”! Maybe there is hope for the future after all. Cheers!

  26. 26
    puppygod

    Now, if we could get a colorized photo of the young Darwin (from the times of the Beagle voyage) – that would be something!

  27. 27
    Anthony K

    Serendipitously I am in the middle of happily selling a 12 year-old young woman Alan Gibbons’ “Charles Darwin”.

    “That’ll be 28.47 please. Hang on, I gotta go comment online for a sec…”

  28. 28
    philat100

    >>>in what is now Czechoslovakia <<<

    Brno has been in what is now the Czech Republic since 1992…

  29. 29
    Spanish Inquisitor

    What’s the big deal about colorizing a photo? It’s not as if the black and white was destroyed forever in the process, never to be seen again. It’s just an alternate way of looking at the picture, and frankly, it’s more realistic.

    And, it wasn’t shot in B&W on purpose, as some artistic statement. It was done because there was no color photography. You don’t see too may black and white paintings from the era, do you?

    I like it. It makes historical people seem a little more real to me.

  30. 30
    ricardodivali having sniffles over stiffles

    Funnily enough i’m just reading “The Voyage of Charles Darwin”.

    Brownian: Kids today, always playing with them iphone thingies…

  31. 31
    komponist

    @29:

    I was waiting to see how long it would be before someone would bring up this completely reasonable point. Thanks!

  32. 32
    Anthony K

    Brownian: Kids today, always playing with them iphone thingies…

    I was cautioned against doing that too much as a youth, lest I go blind.

    Wait—is that why the newest ones have retina display?

  33. 33
    marcus

    @27 I’m fast, what can I say.

  34. 34
    Alex

    I beleived he smokd a pipe so his beard and tache would have been yellowed for a start.

    Also, Darwin was constantly nauseous from this unspecific vomiting syndrome he had, so they should have made him a little greener around the nose…

    @Inquisitor

    I like it. It makes historical people seem a little more real to me.

    Yeah, I noticed that on me as well. For example, I found it very eerie, almost shocking, when I first saw color footage of Hitler. Of course I knew that the Nazis were in color, but somehow, I suddenly realized in a different way that all that stuff took place a good 30 years before I was born. I’m not comparing our dear Darwin to AH of course.

    Actually, to me this effect would be stronger for this picture if the color contrast were not quite as shiny and given a more washed-out quality.

  35. 35
    Ing

    Also, Darwin was constantly nauseous from this unspecific vomiting syndrome he had, so they should have made him a little greener around the nose…

    I thought it was very highly hypothesized that he had chronic Chagas from a kissing bug he collected on the voyage as a specimen and would feed. And by feed I mean “let bite him”

  36. 36
    Active Margin

    I’m with Inquisitor and Tyrant of Skepsis. I find the colorized version of Darwin fascinating. He suddenly looks human to me, like he could grumble, laugh, cry, bleed, burp, etc at any moment, instead of just being some historical figure captured for posterity’s sake.

    I wish I could explain the sensation more eloquently.

  37. 37
    madtom1999

    Turnerising! I used to work in a video tape factory and sometimes had to do quality control which involved watching a tape from start to finish. I used to hate all the colourised old movies and turn the colour off. Wathching 80 minutes of Laurel and Hardy in colour is a chore – in B&W its an absolute pleasure.
    They sold like bibles at a sceptics meeting.

  38. 38
    tgho

    I like it and think it looks good. Any other photos of him which have received the same treatment?

    Cheers,
    TGHO

  39. 39
    'Tis Himself

    I like Orson Welles’ comment about colorization: “Tell Turner to keep his crayons away from my movies.”

  40. 40
    David Marjanović

    Looks more three-dimensional than the original, IIRC.

    What? Fucker was white?!

    Thread won.

  41. 41
    a3kr0n

    I think this proves James Randi is really a reincarnated Darwin.

  42. 42
    myeck waters

    This can’t really compare to the colorization of movies. That was done out of pure commercial interest, and had the potential to cause the true versions of the films involved to become virtually unavailable. Plus a lot of them looked awful.

    These were done slowly – literally a frame at a time, and are for the most part very good. And there’s no danger that the original B/W pictures will disappear.

  43. 43
    torbertin

    Seeing this photograph in color was especially interesting when you compare it to the paintings of him when he was younger.

    http://www.revelinnewyork.com/sites/default/files/Charles-Darwin-31.jpg

  44. 44
    Erp

    Personally, I think I prefer the original. Note that some paintings, which were in color, exist do we aren’t deprived of color representations.

    As a side note, his uncle, Thomas Wedgwood, was an experimenter in some stuff that eventually led to photography. Thomas unfortunately died quite young.

  45. 45
    cyberCMDR

    Oooooh! Pink! Let’s make some dolls that color!

  46. 46
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    There is a painting of young Mr. Darwin.

  47. 47
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I like it!

  48. 48
    edmundog

    I like it, though it’s hardly the best in the series. Not the worst, that would be Lincoln and his overzealous makeup person. Though I like his blue suit, which he probably would be wearing. The one of the burning monk I think actually has more power in color.

  49. 49
    The Lorax

    I like it. A familiar image with a new perspective. And like others have mentioned, he feels more “real” now, more human, more contemporary. It looks like a photograph of someone who’s out and about right now, that you could shake hands with and congratulate on his work.

  50. 50
    Ing

    Reminds me of this
    http://media.salon.com/2010/01/gloomy_nevermore_portrait_shows_cheerful_poe-460×307.jpg

    It’s a lot easier to understand Poe IMO with this painting showing a colorful and cheerful side of him.

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