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Abe-Lincoln-color-930x546

Some pretty incredible pictures here:  http://www.rsvlts.com/2012/08/10/adding-color-to-the-most-iconic-photos-in-history/

Like it or not, you can’t argue that colorizing these old photos that we know so well makes us see them in a completely new way.

Photography was one of my first loves, and I have played with it, studied it, read about it, and appreciated it for a lot of decades now.  These sepia beauties are all old friends to me.

When I started taking pictures, black and white film was still routinely used because color film was in its infancy; slow and grainy.  I took the pictures, I developed the film, and I made the prints.  I devoured Ansel Adams’ books about the art and craft and secretly tried to grow a beard.  I couldn’t measure up to him in any respect, but I loved the craft and I loved the devotion it took.  Still do.

I love these old icons.  I love the hues, I love the flattening effect of the lack of color.  The blacks have no detail and the highlights are completely washed out, leaving it up to our imaginations to fill in, if they are still capable of that in this time when they get so little exercise.

But I have been guilty of loving them as small objects of pure art and creation.  Sure it is a picture of a famous person, or a terrible battle scene, but more on the level of an oil painting by an Old Master than images of Afghanistan on the 6 O’Clock News.

Man does the color change that.

I love the surprise, the rush of emotion, the sudden connection to another human, instead of the cerebral appreciation of a finely crafted work.

Check them out.

cotton2

Odd that a simple plant would become such a politically charged symbol (Although not the only case, thinking of that green, leafy plant).

It makes a beautiful field, but it is a nasty, nasty, plant.  If you don’t know, the stalks are iron-hard, black, sharp-edged pieces of whip-leather, as are the split open boll casings.
They cut flesh like they were designed to do it, and I have seen the hands of some who spent a lifetime picking it; gnarled, scar-ridden, clubs that were barely recognizable.

Everybody has heard of Eli Whitney, who invented the Cotton Gin, but it was Cyrus McCormick who invented the cotton reaper, back in the 1870’s and slowly started the movement of humans out of the cotton fields.

But as revolutionary as the reaper was, it was still something only affordable by the largest operations, and smaller farms and share-croppers continued hand picking into the 20th century.

It was a life of pain and agony, and probably something that damn near none of us can even comprehend now.

cotton

 

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