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Poverty's palette
May 14, 2004 4:17 PM   Subscribe

In our mind's eye, much of the past exists in black and white. (via gordon.coale)
posted by madamjujujive (38 comments total)

 
These are great photographs. It's so weird to see this period in time so crisp.
posted by angry modem at 4:23 PM on May 14, 2004


Great link. I especially like this photo of railroad workers.
posted by vorfeed at 4:33 PM on May 14, 2004


beautiful--everyone looks so much better in color--thanks, juju.
posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on May 14, 2004


Great pics. I wish there were more.
posted by wsg at 4:47 PM on May 14, 2004


Seems so distant but the kids shown are about the age my parents would have been.
posted by stbalbach at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2004


makes me think of Ti Jean
posted by Satapher at 5:16 PM on May 14, 2004


Sure does make a difference. (Self-links, all of 'em. For best results, hold your hand over one half of the screen. Alternate.)
posted by rafter at 5:23 PM on May 14, 2004


Ah, Ti Jean. Oui, Satapher, moi aussi.
posted by digaman at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2004


Nice, rafter.
posted by digaman at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2004


wow. just wow.
posted by quonsar at 5:35 PM on May 14, 2004


very cool rafter, thanks!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:35 PM on May 14, 2004


Excellent. My mind thinks it's really strange seeing 'modern people' wearing such odd clothes.
posted by Blue Stone at 5:54 PM on May 14, 2004


Blue Stone: I couldn't help but think "film stills." Badly colorized ones at that. It's really fascinating though -- like the way that period films always look so modern just because they are so crisp and colorful.

(quonsar, thanks. If you liked the second photo there, you'll probably like these a lot, too.)
posted by rafter at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2004


"This is the first time I've hitch hiked in years and I soon begin to see that things have changed in America, you can't get a ride anymore ..."

- Jack Kerouac, Big Sur, 1962
posted by pyramid termite at 6:51 PM on May 14, 2004


Here's my dozen favorites. I stashed copies on my server.
posted by nasim at 7:07 PM on May 14, 2004


These are wonderful, thanks! There's old ruined homestead houses - like the Pie Town (!) pictures - up in the hills here in Colorado. It's good to see what they looked like when they were lived in.
posted by carter at 7:30 PM on May 14, 2004


Thanks, nasim. These couple shots would make great posters, especially the second one.
posted by rafter at 7:48 PM on May 14, 2004


This is extremely good.

It's surprising to think that there really is hardly any color record of any time before the 50's, and just how real the color makes it.
posted by abcde at 8:26 PM on May 14, 2004


Excellent. My mind thinks it's really strange seeing 'modern people' wearing such odd clothes.

Yeah the color makes things more immediate and real. Its easy to look at b&w photos and think: Sure, their world was strange with Hitler and World Wars and imminent nuclear demise but they were also living in black-and-white.

For me, this reminds me of how it could have been us living in those times. It makes it more real.
posted by vacapinta at 8:32 PM on May 14, 2004


Anyone else remember poking around in vintage clothing stores, or better yet, in military surplus stores, when you were young? I always came across old uniforms, in living color, and I had the hardest time picturing people in them. Everything back then was black and white to my young mind.

This helps to fill those uniforms with real, colorful people.
posted by jeremy at 9:22 PM on May 14, 2004


Anyone else remember poking around in vintage clothing stores, or better yet, in military surplus stores, when you were young? I always came across old uniforms, in living color, and I had the hardest time picturing people in them. Everything back then was black and white to my young mind.

This helps to fill those uniforms with real people.
posted by jeremy at 9:23 PM on May 14, 2004


whoops. connection problems. sorry for the double (nay, triple) post.
posted by jeremy at 9:24 PM on May 14, 2004


kudos
posted by moonbird at 9:30 PM on May 14, 2004


Holy cow, rafter.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:32 PM on May 14, 2004


CALVIN: Dad, how come old photographs are always black and white? Didn't they have color film back then?
DAD: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs ARE in color. It's just the world was black and white then.
CALVIN: Really?
DAD: Yep. The world didn't turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too.
CALVIN: That's really weird.
DAD: Well, truth is stranger than fiction.
CALVIN: But then why are old paintings in color?! If the world was black and white, wouldn't artists have painted it that way?
DAD: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.
CALVIN: But... but how could they have painted in color anyway? Wouldn't their paints have been shades of gray back then?
DAD: Of course, but they turned colors like everything else in the '30s.
CALVIN: So why didn't old black and white photos turn color too?
DAD: Because they were color pictures of black and white, remember?

posted by dhartung at 9:50 PM on May 14, 2004


[this is good]
posted by 2sheets at 10:02 PM on May 14, 2004


This is exactly why the Prokudin-Gorskii exhibit blows my mind. You mean there was color back in 1907??
posted by tomplus2 at 10:36 PM on May 14, 2004


It's also why this site is one of my favorites to browse through. You find gems like this all the time.
posted by twiki at 4:21 AM on May 15, 2004


Superb. I think the B&W/Color Divide makes the recent past seem more distant, and people on this side of it more willing to discard any wisdom/experience gleaned "back then."
posted by ParisParamus at 4:37 AM on May 15, 2004


PS: I still think these people look old.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:40 AM on May 15, 2004


A while back I collated a few more links on early colour photography: Pre-WW1 and WW1 photos, the work of Frank Hurley, and Autochromes.
posted by raygirvan at 5:18 AM on May 15, 2004


Thanks for these.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:14 AM on May 15, 2004


Is it just me, or does it seem like people in the depression had better complexions than we do now? Their skin looks so... healthy.
posted by rusty at 6:17 AM on May 15, 2004


There is something about seeing these things in color that makes them feel like memories, not photographs.

I remember as a young child being fascinated by the fifties and sixties because the colors seemed so different. It wasn't until adolescence that I realized that this was because of photographic technology. The sixties were always bright, and the fifties were always muted. In my mind's eye I still catch myself picturing bright acid colors when I read about the summer of love, and muted colors when I read about the war years.

This is a great post!
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:21 AM on May 15, 2004


rusty: less processed food = a better complexion?
posted by jeremy at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2004


does it seem like people in the depression had better complexions than we do now

See the damage we do by showering and bathing so often? Those people bathed once a week, at most. Soap is hard as hell on your skin over time.

Of course, start skipping showers and I'll be the first to tell you you stink.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:21 AM on May 15, 2004


gesamtkunstwerk There is something about seeing these things in color that makes them feel like memories, not photographs.

Odd you should say that. I was just commenting to my wife that this and this Prokudin-Gorskii photo of Vitebsk in 1912 give me a very intense feeling of nostalgia, of having been there, though I never have. There's certainly something about these images that messes with your head.
posted by raygirvan at 4:39 PM on May 15, 2004


This is a great thread. And rafter, you are the tops!
posted by of strange foe at 7:38 AM on May 25, 2004


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