While color photography has been widely available to even the most amateur of photographers since the 1970s, the rest of the long history of photography was only captured in black and white. Because of that, for modern generations, the past itself seems to be colored only in black and white. But what if you could see the past in color? It would bring it absolutely alive, which would make the events depicted more familiar and thus more real. That’s what a handful of extremely talented digital artists are doing to images from the 19th and early 20th centuries. You will be amazed at how current, present – and sometimes heartwarming or terribly sad – the photographs become when they are colorized. Prepare yourself to view the past with a new appreciation … and intensified emotion!
May 8, 1945. Although this looks like a scene from HBO’s Band of Brothers, it’s the real life Band of Brothers, celebrating V-E Day at Hitler’s hilltop compound in the Bavarian Alps, known as “Eagle’s Nest.” Pictured here, looking relaxed and terribly handsome, almost as if they hadn’t been fighting a World War for several years, are Major Richard Winters, Captain Lewis Nixon, and other officers of “Easy Company,” part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. #straightoutofcentralcasting
November 10th, 1943. Another one that looks like it’s from a movie set but isn’t, this is Lieutenant Walter L. Chewning, Jr. leaping on top of the burning fuel tank of an F6F-3 Hellcat in a desperate effort to save the pilot. Ensign Byron M. Johnson had crash-landed right onto that fuel tank, then sparks from the propeller flew and the whole thing went up in flames. Thankfully, the rescue aboard the USS Enterprise was a success. Ensign Johnson went on to shoot down eight Japanese planes over Iwo Jima in 1945 and won the Distinguished Flying Cross twice, eight air medals and numerous other awards before the war’s end.
Colorizing these historical photos can really mess with your mind. That “straight into the camera stare” makes this look like a still from Inglourious Basterds. In reality, it’s American troops preparing Nazi Major General Anton Dostler for execution after he was found guilty of war crimes. Dostler was the commander of German 75th Army Corps when he ordered and oversaw the execution of 15 US Army soldiers in Italy on March 26th, 1944. Dostler’s well-deserved sentence was death; he was (fittingly!) executed by a 12-man firing squad on December 1st, 1945.