Tag Archives: history

A Vibrant Past: Colorizing the Archives of History

Technology has given us an incredibly wide-ranging view of modern presidents; chief White House photographer Pete Souza’s images of Barack Obama show him in countless locations and situations, from meetings in the Oval Office to candid shots of the president eating ice cream with his daughters on vacation.

The photo archive of Abraham Lincoln, the subject of this week’s cover story, is a much smaller set due to the technological limitations of the time; most of the existing photographs of the 16th president are posed portraits, the majority of which only show Lincoln from the chest up—and all are black-and-white.

But TIME commissioned Sanna Dullaway to create a more vibrant document of Lincoln through a series of colorized photographs produced in Photoshop. After removing spots, dust and scratches from archival Lincoln photographs, Dullaway digitally colorizes the files to produce realistic and modern versions of the portraits, which look like they could have been made today.

The 22-year-old Swedish artist began colorizing images in January 2011, when she was listening to the debut album by rock band Rage Against the Machine. The self-titled album’s cover art is a black-and-white picture of a self-immolating monk taken by AP photographer Malcolm Browne. “I thought the normally fiery flames looked so dull in black and white, so I…looked for a way to make them come alive,” she says. Dullaway colorized the flames, and eventually, the entire picture. She then posted the image on Reddit, and it instantly went viral.

Since that first experiment, Dullaway has continued to colorize a wide range of historical figures, including Albert Einstein, Che Guevara and Teddy Roosevelt, each of which has generated viral buzz online. She’s also used the approach on a number of iconic photographs, such as Eddie Adams’ harrowing image of a Vietnam police officer the moment before he’s about to execute a Vietcong prisoner. In each of these renderings, Dullaway’s use of color is subtle and sophisticated—yielding images that maintain the photographic integrity of their originals, while presenting a look at how these photographs may have come out had color photography existed at the time. That nuanced ability to handle color runs in the family; Dullaway’s father is painter.

The images take anywhere from 40 minutes to three hours to produce, and for the young artist, it’s a way of bringing a contemporary perspective to older works. “History has always been black and white to me, from the World War I soldiers to the 1800s, when ladies wore grand but colorless dresses,” Dullaway says. “By colorizing, I watch the photos come alive, and suddenly the people feel more real and history becomes more tangible.”

Lincoln is at the heart of her next project, a book of Civil War images rendered in color. “I felt like it was a good place to start because the war is well documented in the Library of Congress and started roughly around the same time the camera was first used commercially,” Dullaway says. “And a war offers to chance to cover many subjects at once, and present the events of that time as our eyes would see it today—in color.”

Sanna Dullaway is a photo editor based in Sweden. See more of her work here.

Portrait of a City: A Look at London

In the new photo book London: Portrait of a City, editor Reuel Golden says he wanted to use images to convey the history of the city and tell it in a compelling way that will sort of surprise people as well. That’s no easy feat when the city in question is one of the world’s oldest. But Golden says he found Londons photographic history was most compelling in three main eras: the Victorian period, the post-World War II era and the swinging ’60s. Images from those particular time periods, according to Golden, best displayed the character of the city, the soul of the city and the personality of the city.

Thats not to say the process was simple. To kick the project off, a few thousand photos were compiled, many of which were found buried in dusty drawers from places like the London Metropolitan Archive, which catalogs records of the city. Then came the task carried out by Golden, famed publisher Benedikt Taschen and art director Josh Bakerof whittling down the thousands of images into a manageable collection of photos that exemplified London. Though the book is the latest in a series of city-themed collections (past books have featured New York and Berlin), when it came to picking images of London, the team was especially critical in what they included. They were looking for photos that exuded fashion, a certain kind of cool,” says Golden. “And also you want to show ready identifiable icons.

Throughout the pageswhich also feature essays on the citythere are images of London life from the East end to the West end, all of which are invariably both familiar and fresh. Each image symbolizes a recognizable piece of Londons architecture, history, culture and of course, its iconic style, but often in a way that’s never been seen before.

The end result is a 552-page behemoth of a book with hundreds of images from anonymous and amateur photographers, as well as the big names of the business like Bill Brandt and David Bailey. article writing submission . Its important to get a good mix of big, important photographers, but also people who just documented London in a totally, totally different way, says Golden. Part of our mission behind these books is to sort of discover lesser known photographers and bring them out to the light of the world.

London: Portrait of a City was recently released byTASCHEN.

The Way We Were: 1948 London Olympians Look Back

Few are alive today who remember the 1948 Olympics in London. To commemorate London’s third hosting of the Games, TIME has traversed two continents to speak to the last surviving medalists from the U.K. and the U.S. for its special Olympics edition. Those competitors speak of feelings familiar to us all—the comfort of a lucky charm, the joy of victory. They also recount experiences that are foreign to many athletes today: the enervating effect of post-war rations, and training sessions fitted around everyday jobs.

Despite the various hardships they encountered, the athletes interviewed by TIME remember the Games fondly. Yet when the International Olympic Committee selected London to host the 1948 Summer Olympics, not everyone in the city was pleased. “The average range of British enthusiasm for the Games stretches from lukewarm to dislike,” wrote London’s Evening Standard in September 1947. “It is not too late for invitations to be politely withdrawn.” Even government officials who had pushed for a London Olympics acknowledged that following the devastation of the Second World War, Britain had few resources to spare for a sporting contest. “We have a housing shortage, and food difficulties, which do not permit us to do all we wish,” said Prime Minister Clement Attlee in a radio address welcoming athletes in 1948.

(For daily coverage of the 2012 Games, visit TIME’s Olympics blog)

It was called the ‘austerity’ Olympics—in a sense that even in today’s frugal times we can hardly fathom. With a budget of just $1.2 million (compared to today’s almost $14 billion), no new venues were built—instead, organizers made do and mended. The Henley Royal Regatta course hosted rowing events despite being 70 meters too short. Javelin throwers, deprived of stadium lighting, cast their spears in the dark, while judges officiated with flashlights. Wembley Stadium—usually used as a greyhound racing arena—received a new brick rubble cinder surface, which quickly turned to slush in the rain.

Yet, as Atlee pointed out, if there was anything lacking, it was not “good will.” Britain worked hard to be able to welcome 4,000 competitors from 59 countries – converting university dormitories, schools and RAF bases into accommodation for visiting athletes and their entourages. The army convalescent camp in London’s Richmond Park became an athletes’ village, complete with a ‘milk bar’, a cobbler’s, a hair dresser’s, a post office and a cinema to seat 500. Good will also streamed in from other nations, particularly when it came to food. The Dutch shipped over 100 tons of fruit and vegetables, Denmark contributed 160,000 eggs, and Czechoslovakia sent 20,000 mineral water bottles. The Brits cooked these and other contributions in camp kitchens, attempting to cater to national cuisines. Although post-war rations were boosted for athletes, the fare wasn’t always well received—legend has it that oarsmen displeased by their end-of-the-Olympics dinner at Henley began to chuck bread rolls in protest.

Still, athletes managed to enjoy themselves, without fine cuisine and—in many cases—without alcohol (though the French team carted over their own wine). After winning a gold medal in the swallow sailing class, David Bond and other competitors celebrated by going to a dance at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, on the English coast. “We had a wonderful ball,” he tells TIME. “Nobody got drunk actually.” In 1948, the rewards for top competitors, were modest — a medal to show to their family and, in British cyclist Tommy Godwin’s case, a post-race glass of chocolate milk. There were no multi-million dollar endorsements, no spandex uniforms, no neon mascots. The big technological advances in 1948 were the photo finish and silk swimming costumes, which replaced saggy cotton. Yet for all the differences with the modern Games, some things have remained the same. Sixty years later, people from all over the world will gather once more in London to celebrate the Olympic spirit. Londoners will still grumble. And like Prime Minister Attlee said in his address, everyone will be hoping for a bit of good weather.

Jim Naughten is a photographer based in London. See more of his work here.

Tank Man Revisited: More Details Emerge About the Iconic Image

Twenty-three years ago today, Jeff Widener ran out of film during the most important assignment of his life.

The brutal crackdown at Tiananmen Square was underway and Widener, a photographer for the Associated Press, was sent to the square to capture the scene. “I rode a bicycle to the Beijing Hotel,” Widener says. “Upon my arrival, I had to get past several Chinese security police in the lobby. If they stopped and searched me, they would have found all my gear and film hidden in my clothes.” But there, in the shadows of the hotel entrance, he saw a long-haired college kid wearing a dirty Rambo t-shirt, shorts and sandals. “I yelled out, ‘Hi Joe! Where you been?’ and then whispered that I was from AP.” Widener remembers. He asked to go to the young man’s room. “He picked up on it,” says Widener, “and out of the corner of my eye I could see the approaching security men turn away, thinking I was a hotel guest.”

The young man was an American. His name was Kirk Martsen.

Martsen told Widener that he was lucky to arrive when he did. Just a few minutes earlier, some hotel guests had been shot by a passing military truck full of Chinese soldiers. Martsen said hotel staff members had dragged the bodies back in the hotel and that he had barely escaped with his life. From a hotel balcony, Widener was able to take pictures with a long lens—but then he ran out of film. So he sent Martsen on a desperate hunt for more, and Martsen returned with one single roll of Fuji color negative. It was on this film that Widener captured one of the most iconic images in history, the lone protester facing down a row of Chinese tanks.

“After I made the image, I asked Kirk if he could smuggle my film out of the hotel on his bicycle to the AP office at the Diplomatic Compound,” Widener says. “He agreed to do this for me as I had to stay in the hotel and wait for more supplies and could not risk being found out. I watched Kirk from my balcony, which was right over the area where the security was. In what seemed to be an eternity, Kirk unlocked his bike and started to pedal off, although a bit awkwardly because all my film was stashed in his underwear. Five hours later, a call to Mark Avery at the AP office in Beijing confirmed that the film had arrived and been transmitted world-wide. What I did not know until 20 years later was what actually transpired after Kirk pedaled the bicycle away.”

On the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, I wrote an article detailing each story behind the four different versions of the iconic scene on the Lens blog of the New York Times. At the time of publication, Widener wasn’t sure if the young man’s name was Kirk or Kurt. Soon after, Widener says, that changed: “I was on the computer and that familiar ‘You’ve Got Mail’ rang out on AOL. I could not believe who it was from. After 20 years, Kirk had found me because of the article in the New York Times.”

Widener discovered that Martsen encountered gunfire and more soldiers after he left with the precious film and that he became lost trying to navigate back streets to find the Associated Press office. Martsen went to the U.S. embassy and handed over the film to a U.S. Marine at the entrance, and told the embassy to forward the film to the AP office.

“Kirk risked his life,” Widener says. “If not for all of his efforts, my pictures may never have been seen.”

The next day, the image appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Courtesy Jeff Widener

Jeff Widener and his wife Corinna, whom he met while revisiting Tiananmen 20 years after he made the now-iconic photograph.

Years later, the BBC flew Widener back to China to revisit the Square where he made the iconic photo. While walking down Changan Avenue toward the square, Widener met a German teacher sitting on the sidewalk smoking. Widener introduced himself and they had lunch. They were married in July 2010. “If anyone had told me that I would return from that bullet-riddled street 20 years later to meet my future wife, I would have thought them nuts,” Widener says. “Fate has a strange sense of humor.”

Jeff Widener is an award-winning American photographer. See more of his work here.

Behind the Cover: The Unseen Photos of Lenore and Mitt Romney

When Douglas Gilbert photographed Lenore Romney’s U.S. Senate campaign for Look Magazine in August of 1970, little did he know that one of his unused images would end up on the cover of TIME 42 years later. “At the time I was hoping for LOOK magazine,” he says. “Certainly not TIME! It is a nice surprise.”

Gilbert spent some three days trailing Lenore and Mitt through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the summer Lenore tried to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Phil Hart, for whom the Hart Senate Office building is now named. Many people know that Mitt’s father, three-term Michigan governor George Romney, ran for President and lost in 1968, but few know the story of his mother’s own campaign for high office and how it shaped her son’s presidential run in 2012. Fewer still have ever seen Gilbert’s photos of mother and son—those collected here did not run, except for one (slide #4), in LOOK’s story, and the negatives ended up buried in the Library of Congress archives until TIME discovered them in May. In an ironic turn of history, Gilbert’s portrait of newlywed 23-year-old Mitt and his mother strategizing in her campaign hotel room exactly captures a central theme of Mitt’s current cautious campaign style, the subject of TIME’s cover story this week, “Dreams of His Mother.”

Lenore’s losing run deeply shaped her son, perhaps even more than her husband’s failed presidential bid. Lenore initially called her campaign “a love affair between me and the people of Michigan.” But a month after Gilbert shot these images, her tune had turned. “It’s the most humiliating thing I know of to run for office,” she said. And Mitt, who was at her elbow at every turn that summer, felt the effects.

Nevertheless, Gilbert saw the charismatic Lenore that Mitt championed. “I found her to be very personable and friendly. I never really felt any pushback from her at all,” he remembers. “She attracted people.” On the mama’s boy, Gilbert’s memories are more vague. “I remember mostly Lenore. Mitt was, as far as I knew, the college-aged son who was helping out,” he recalls. “I knew it was a funny name, Mitt, but I didn’t know him beyond that.”

Mitt however was making a name for himself on the campaign trail even then. He traveled to each of Michigan’s 83 counties on his mom’s behalf, and talked openly with reporters about her platform every step of the way. Mitt Romney finds himself in a similar position, more than 40 years later: traveling the country, and this time, convincing voters of his own credentials to become President of the United States. That outcome hinges on voters this November; Lenore’s influence on that journey, though, is indisputable.

Read more in this week’s issue of TIME: How Mitt’s Mom Shaped Him

More photos: The rich history of Mitt Romney

Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.

New York, Cocteau and a Parabolic Mirror: ‘Berenice Abbott: Photographs’

Though she went to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, Berenice Abbott would transition to photography when she became Man Ray’s assistant in 1923. Three years later, she set up her own studio, photographing the French capital’s bohemians, artists and intellectuals—and famous friends such as writers James Joyce and Jean Cocteau—before moving back to the States in 1929.

For the next two decades, Abbott focused her lens on Depression-Era New York, producing a number of moving, black-and-white images that would become part of her book Changing New York. This series, along with nearly 120 other images, is being featured in a new exhibition at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Center called Berenice Abbott: Photographs.

“She was an underestimated photographer during her life and even today,” says Gaelle Morel, the exhibition’s curator and author of the accompanying book, Berenice Abbott. “But Berenice has this capacity of mixing different aesthetics, depending on the subject, which was really extraordinary. She can do a more modern, New Vision style when it came to photographing New York buildings, or take a more documentary approach for her portraits.”

Keystone-France / Getty Images

Berenice Abbot standing for a portrait, behind a view-camera, circa early 1900s

Abbott gained acclaim for her own comprehensive career, which would later involve photographic work on physics, commissioned by Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she also became famous for her staunch support of French photographer Eugène Atget, whom she met in 1925 while living in Paris. Atget died two years later, and it was Abbott who would photo-edit a book of his work and help stage an exhibition of his work in New York. She sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.

“Berenice always said she had two careers—one of her own, and one championing Atget,” Morel says. “She wanted to be recognized as the Atget of New York, not necessarily his aesthetic, but his intellect.”

Berenice Abbott: Photographs, co-organized by The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, is on view through Aug. 19 at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying book is published by Editions Hazan and Yale University Press.

Brooklyn Bridge: Historic Photo of a New York Landmark

On April 24, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a digital trove of 870,000 photographs, maps and videos that document more than 150 years of Big Apple history, starting in 1858. Among the highlights is a series of images showcasing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened to the public 129 years ago on Thursday.

The evocative, black-and-white photographs are not only remarkable for the intimate and playful details they capture, including a shot of workers painting the Brooklyn Bridge in 1914—without harness!—but also because they were taken by an amateur photographer named Eugene de Salignac, who was a municipal worker from 1906-1934.

Eugene de Salignac

Under the bridge on the Brooklyn side, 1918.

“He was an extremely talented photographer who was tasked with documenting the building of the city,” says Eileen Flannelly, New York City’s deputy commissioner for the department of records. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get recognition for his images during his lifetime. He was just a civil service employee, really unknown. I don’t think people really understood then that he was showing us how our city was built.”

The push to unveil this digital archive has been in the works for nearly four years, and it’s likely to become a hallmark achievement for Mayor Bloomberg, who has made it a mission to support technological initiatives during his tenure. Other photographs from the archive give viewers an inside look at the city’s grisly crime scenes, old Times Square and various borough presidents’ offices. “I look at the crime scene and it’s like looking at an old gangster movies—they’re fascinating because they don’t look real,” Flannelly says. “Then I look at pictures from the ‘80s and see how much the city has changed. It’s fascinating because you don’t have to go too far back to see how far we’ve come.”

The New York City Municipal Archives Photo Gallery can be browsed online here.

‘Lakes, Trees and Honeybees’: Matthew Brandt at Yossi Milo Gallery

When photographer Matthew Brandt started studying for his MFA, he began with the earliest forms of photography, immersing himself in the history of the process. Studying at UCLA also allowed him to return to his hometown and catch up with friends and family members; it was only a matter of time before the photography and friendship collided in a series of portraits.

And then the collision furthered: one day, a friend who Brandt was photographing started to cry. Brandt asked for her tears. “I know it seems a little mean but at the time it seemed to make sense,” he says. He had been studying salted paper prints, a very early form of 19th-century photography that requires just salt solution and silver nitrate to add light sensitivity to a piece of paper. The sight of that naturally occurring salt water triggered an idea. He used the tears to create a portrait of his crying friend. “It was like this ‘eureka’ process in the dark room,” Brandt says. “I was like, ‘oh my God, this actually worked.’”

Brandt, whose work will be featured starting May 24 in an exhibition at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City, finished his degree in 2008 but has continued to make photographs using the physical matter of the subject in the development process. The upcoming exhibition Lakes, Trees and Honeybees will include work from three series. For Lakes and Reservoirs, Brandt soaked photographs of lakes in water collected from the subjects, creating unpredictable colorscapes. In Trees, photographs of the title vegetation are printed on paper and with ink made from branches fallen from those very trees. The Honeybees photos are pictures of bees printed with a gum-bichromate process that required using a solution of the bees themselves in the developing process.

These photographs, of their subjects in both senses of the word, also share a certain degree of pathos and a somber tone, says Brandt. Each of the three series is imbued with its own particular sense of loss, a feeling that something is changing, maybe for the worse. The moment captured is one of crisis.

Lakes, for example, while also addressing the more obvious meanings of wetness, highlights the obsolescence of wet photography; color negative paper was becoming hard to get. The Trees series was made right around the time that Brandt graduated from UCLA and George W. Bush left office. The trees photographed are in George Bush Park in Houston; Brandt says he didn’t want to make an overtly political statement but rather to capture a sense of ambivalence about what the future could hold, an uncertainty that he felt in himself and observed on a national level. And Honeybees was made when Colony Collapse Disorder was making news, prompting the photographer to think of the bees as a clue that something was going wrong in the world.

But not everything is changing. The old-fashioned photography processes Brandt uses—not to mention the work involved in making his own paper and ink—are extremely labor-intensive, but Brandt has no plans to take it easy. The photographer, who cites classic American landscape photography as an influence, still sometimes goes hiking with a large-format camera, frequently returning to Yosemite with Ansel Adams in mind. “The guys who would travel with their wagons through these crazy hills—if they put that much work into making a picture, I should do the same,” he says.

Matthew Brandt is a California-based photographer. Lakes, Trees and Honeybees will be on view at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City from May 24 – June 30. More of his work can be seen here.