17 Jul 2014

Digital Hand Colouring

Most interesting that just as I post something about Dorothea Lange's of the Migrant Mother available from the Library of Congress, and this article appears on the digital re-colouring of old images...personally, I think it is a mistake and lessens the power of the original...



10 Jul 2014

Walker Evans (Library of Congress Project)

Following on from the last post about Dorothea Lange and the images made available from the Library of Congress archives, here are a number of images by Walker Evans from the same FSA archive... It is a wonderful resource.
As in the case of Dorothea Lange's work, I tried to make these images sympathetic to the final versions seen in various reproductions by the artist, but also using my photographic skills to maximise the impact of the images while honouring the artist. 
Again, I have cleaned up minor imperfections in the scans, cropped the image slightly and made some tonal and structural changes as any photographer would, but keeping in mind what I observe in a number of book reproductions I have.
I have also tried to replicate the types of darkroom papers and print toner combinations that would have been available to photographers in the 1930's.



Sharecropper's Family, Hale County, Alabama, 1936

Farmer's Kitchen, Hale County, Alabama, 1936

Allie Mae Burroughs, 1936


Garage in Southern City Outskirts, 1936

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1936

Post Office, Sprott, Alabama, 1936



Roadside stand near Birmingham, 1936



Church of the Nazarene,Tennessee, 1936


Cabin, Hale County, Alabama, 1936



8 Jul 2014

Dorothea Lange (Library of Congress Project)

As part of it's public service, The Library of Congress (USA) offers the intriguing possibility of downloading scans of the original negatives from the Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans legacies, including work from the Farm Securities Administration commissions, taken during the terrible drought that took place in the American mid-west food bowl, at the same time of the stock market crash in the 1930's and the resulting depression.
These images are free from all restrictions in relation to their use, as part of the commission.
To be able to see the uncropped negatives is quite amazing and then to compare them to the final reproduced versions even more so.


Up to 2011, the public was able to purchase darkroom prints made from the negatives, but this service is no longer available.

Many of the scans are in the 25 Mb to 35 Mb range, although some of my favourite images are only 250 Kb or so (a real disappointment, suggesting these were scanned for web images only… given the amount of effort in taking negatives out to scan, it is disappointing to not have all of them scanned at a suitable resolution for printing or studying in closer detail).
The first image here is the original 4"x 5" Dorothea Lange negative scan (titled 'Migrant Mother' 1936) and below is my final version cropped and modified and hopefully sympathetic to the final versions seen in various reproductions by the artist. I have cleaned up minor imperfections in the scans, cropped the image slightly and made some tonal and structural changes as any photographer would. I have also tried to replicate the types of darkroom papers and print toner combinations that would have been available to photographers in the 1930's. It is a powerful image that really captures the anguish and despair of the time...



Migrant Mother, 1936


Dorothea used a Graflex 4" x 5" camera at this stage, and here is an image of her on top of her car with her camera in hand ...