Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

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Danny Burk

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Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 9:49 pm

By popular demand: here's the dedicated thread for all colorized photos. This is the proper location for all black-and-white photos that have been colorized by NitrateVille members; please post them here and ONLY here, not to other threads within NitrateVille.

This thread is intended for those who enjoy colorizing photos and sharing them with others. Constructive criticism is allowed and, presumably, welcomed by those who post their efforts here. Otherwise, please don't come here to attack their work and colorization in general; this space is specifically provided for those who enjoy this work.
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bobfells

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 10:23 pm

Many thanks Danny, and to the other officials of N'ville for establishing this thread. I'm reminded of the title of a book I admire, AN EMPIRE OF THEIR OWN.

I was in the middle of responding to Gagman's last post on Bogart, Camilla Horn, etc., when I saw that this thread was now operational so I'll continue the discussion here:

Gagman, I posted two Bogart photos on OLD HOLLYWOOD, one is in real color, the other is bobfells color. I had said in the Intro to the site that I would be posting original color photos but I don't want to accept your compliment under false pretenses. Here they are:

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Given my reputation for gaudy color (but only at N'ville) you'd think the first photo with the orange background would be my misguided work. But no, that's the real color photo. Feel free to retract your compliment - I'm not used to getting them anyway.

Re Camilla Horn's eyes, I own that original 8x10 b/w photo and her eyes are darkened so you can barely make out the pupils. Here's a composite I did for use on the cover of my forthcoming book:
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Gagman 66

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 1:20 am

:) OK, here is my very latest. And it was not easy to work on by any means.


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Gagman 66

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 1:25 am

Bob,

My own version of the Camilla Horn photo that I worked on last year. Again, we both have it wrong. Her eyes were Brown. No, the photo of Bogie with the Cigarette is the one that I liked. Your work. I never even spotted the other one. I've seen those Orange backgrounds, and even purple backgrounds in allot of the old Movie Mag Color portraits. Largely I think it looks awful. I'll look up that thread on in the TCM Favorites Forum and post a link here.


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Last edited by Gagman 66 on Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 1:44 am

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Betty Compson and Clive Brook-1923


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Constance Talmadge with Her Pet Poodle


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Lois Wilson-"Long Flowing Hair"


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Olive Borden-"Joy Girl On Display!"


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Bebe Daniels-"Glorious Is The Flapper"


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Clara-"Let Her Ride!"
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Gagman 66

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 11:59 pm

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Mary Pickford Meets Robert Wadlow :shock:
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bobfells

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 7:27 am

Gagman, I'm carrying this reply over from the thread on Talking About Silents. I agree that I'm having trouble with my greens. It seems to me more a problem with intensity rather than shade but I will experiment. All the photos I post are basically "auditions" so I appreciate any constructive criticism. I'm not fishing for compliments.

Re eye color, I think I will have better results if I color only where the eyes are prominent. The Bogie pic you like has un-colorized eyes. Also, where I try to add eye color, I think I need to "punch out" the color from the pupil leaving it black. In some of my photos, the color covers over the pupil and the result is a "glass eye" effect that looks really weird. Here are a couple I don't think I posted elsewhere:
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Helen Chandler and Ramon Novarro in DAYBREAK (1931)

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Mary Astor and Clark Gable in RED DUST (1932)

In both photos I avoid the "eye" problem.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 8:20 am

Gagman 66 wrote:Image

Mary Pickford Meets Robert Wadlow :shock:

Wow is she meeting a man or godzilla?
"It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkies instead of the other way around." - MP
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 10:04 am

Constructive Criticism...
Bob Fells: Have to hand it to you for dealing with all the knocks and blows you've taken. You are becoming a better and stronger artist with each piece by looking at the colors in your Novarro and Chandler. Red Dust in another step in the right direction. My only thing with your stuff is that the colors look too "stencilled." Your colors are too "blocked in". If you look at color photos you'll see there are reflections of surrounding colors absorbed in small degrees with each other (what I'm trying to explain may be more obvious in portrait paintings, wish I could think of examples at this writing). Perhaps Chandlers skin should be lighter than Novarros (?), and there should be different tones in the folds, shadows and highlights of their capes. It's that flatness that makes your things look stencilled. But you are indeed improving my friend, practice makes perfect.

Gagman: I appreciate you trying too, but are you afraid of color? Or maybe you are not using Photoshop? Your colors are too transparent or something, perhaps too soft and pastel-like. Perhaps your monitor needs to be calibrated? But then again, perhaps your tints (as I am seeing them) are what you are striving for. Commercially and professionally your colorizations are on the "weak" side and too washed-out looking. I think if they were reproduced, you would lose a lot of your hard work as the colors will disappear. And what are you doing to most of the eyes on your photos? Looks like you colored them, decided you didn't like it, and fudged it up. Don't be afraid of color, you want to catch peoples eyes (don't you?). Your Camilla Horn is a step in the right direction with little touches of cheek color, eye shadow; these things bring out the form and do help. But I prefer BobFells version of Camilla better because there is strength in color (there's muscle in B&W too). Perhaps you don't spend enough time on your simpler stuff, maybe that's the situation(?).

Between the two of you, Bob's stuff will wake me, Gags might put me to sleep. Here's hoping I've given some constructive words as opposed to destructive. I myself am an artist by profession and always happy to drop two cents in if it'll get results or help another struggling artist. Keep up the good work gents, it will only get better. Looking forward to watching you progress, don't stress, it'll come.

Steve Rydzewski, Philadelphia
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 10:38 am

"BankofAmericasSweetheart",

:D Robert Wadlow Jr. was the World's Tallest Man. I think the photo is from the 1939 World's Fair. Since it was the 30's, a better analogy would be King Kong. This guy was gigantic! Custom made suits had to be pretty expensive for him.

Steve,

Yeah the color on this photo in particular is a little weak. Basically, I try to stay with subtle shades and hues. I don't want the colors to be to vivid. Though it varies depending upon the material I have to work with. My software is 6 or 7 years old, so it is not exactly up to date. Before that I had software that was several years older still. I'm fearful that I might not know how to work with the newer programs once I have them.

Bob,

The Mary Astor and Clark Gable pose is perhaps the best thing you have ever done to date. Outstanding work.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 11:48 am

:) Here are some Clara Bow photos I have worked with over the past 3 months or so.


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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 1:28 pm

BankofAmericasSweetheart wrote:
Gagman 66 wrote:Image

Mary Pickford Meets Robert Wadlow :shock:

Wow is she meeting a man or godzilla?


I thought everyone knew about Robert Wadlow.....anyway, at his peak - and if this is 1939, we're there - he was within an inch of 9 feet tall. Pituitary gland problems. I can see why you've flicked his hair with grey, but I would have gone for sandy hair, brylcreemed. The sad fact is, he was 21 when this was taken, and he died the next year.
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 3:59 pm

Turpinutz wrote: Perhaps Chandlers skin should be lighter than Novarros (?), and there should be different tones in the folds, shadows and highlights of their capes. It's that flatness that makes your things look stencilled. But you are indeed improving my friend, practice makes perfect.

Steve, I want constructive criticism and yours is very welcomed indeed. It may be the difference in our monitors but Novarro's skin IS darker than Chandler's. It's really noticeable where their hands touch. Re shadows, etc. I try to follow the b/w original so if a woman's face is not rouged, I won't add it. If there are no shadows in the capes, I won't add it. Despite our critics, I do maintain the integrity of the original b/w. If there is a secret to why my work seems to be getting better, I think at least 50% has to do with working from scanned negatives. The Astor/Gable and Chandler/Novarro - and Gagman, the Bogart you liked - were all scanned directly from 2.5 inch negatives.

The other 50% improvement is attributable to the fact that I tend to do better work when people aren't cursing at me!
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 10:00 pm

While I may not be the greatest fan of colorizing photos, I'm not militantly opposed to it either because I sort of view it as a modern day continuation of what the studios would often do to photos for the fan magazines and poster/lobby card artwork. I definitely don't see it in the same terms as I see film colorization (the least said about that the better IMO). That being said, I have yet to see a single instance where the colorization improved upon the original black and white image. Of the colorizations posted on this site, some look quite nice. On the other hand though, others look awful. My biggest qualm is that the skin tones on some look too pale and almost cadaver like. To each their own I guess.
For kicks and giggles a little while ago, I colorized a scan of a vintage still I have in my collection. I used a freeware program called Gimp, and after fussing around with it, I produced the following image. While I can't say that I see myself doing this again, I must admit that experimenting around with the colors was interesting.
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Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned. - W.C. Fields
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 11:20 pm

Little Caesar, your fledgling effort with Mr. Keaton looks very good. The fleshtones on the right look relatively natural, the fleshtones on the left look gray. What's natural about that? Your side-by-side comparison makes a good point too - the color image seems to "pop out" from the page in a way the b/w image does not. If not exactly 3-D, then 2.5-D. I've noticed that effect in the better colorized photos.

I'll tell you a secret about selecting photos to color - medium shot portraits are the easiest to do. With indoor movie scenes, there's furniture, floors, rugs, pictures on the walls, the walls themselves, especially if wall-papered, lamps, curtains, etc. Outdoor photos get you mixed up with grass, shrubs, trees, sky, mountains, water.... yes, head and shoulder portraits are a piece of cake by comparison.

Here's a compromise I worked out in coloring this scene from any early Valentino film, THE CHEATER (1920). First, the b/w original - you'll notice that it combines elements of both indoor and outdoor scenes with grass, trees, mountains and sky on the left, and people, furniture, floors, rugs, etc on the middle and right. What a mess to color:
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By cropping out the outdoor elements and eliminating some of the people, I can zero in on the reason for colorizing in the first place, Mr. Valentino:
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I will admit that the full photo is much more atmospheric than my cropped version, but Rudy gets lost in the full version plus it would have taken me hours to do all the other features. Even then, it may not have turned out well. So I realized my primary focus was Rudy and justified my decision on that basis.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 2:12 am

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Renee Adoree-"Dreams Of Paris"
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 6:37 am

A few observations:

1) Look at the SHOES on Wadlow! Holy s***! You could put three of Shaq O'Neal's shoes inside one of Wadlow's!

2) In the set of Clara photos, there is a red rim around the iris of her eye in the first photo.

3) In the second photo, her teeth are blue.

4) The next couple of photos of Clara are well-done.


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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 4:54 pm

bobfells wrote:Little Caesar, your fledgling effort with Mr. Keaton looks very good. The fleshtones on the right look relatively natural, the fleshtones on the left look gray. What's natural about that? Your side-by-side comparison makes a good point too - the color image seems to "pop out" from the page in a way the b/w image does not. If not exactly 3-D, then 2.5-D. I've noticed that effect in the better colorized photos.

I'll tell you a secret about selecting photos to color - medium shot portraits are the easiest to do. With indoor movie scenes, there's furniture, floors, rugs, pictures on the walls, the walls themselves, especially if wall-papered, lamps, curtains, etc. Outdoor photos get you mixed up with grass, shrubs, trees, sky, mountains, water.... yes, head and shoulder portraits are a piece of cake by comparison.


Thanks for your comments Bob. While I'm not planning on doing any further colorizations at present, I wouldn't be opposed to trying again if the fancy ever strikes me. I know exactly what you mean about medium shot portraits being the easiest to color. I had originally picked a scene still to experiment on, but there were so many details in the photo that I decided to choose something a little easier to tackle. Anyway, here's a slightly larger version of the colorized, 2.5D Mr. Keaton. To be honest, I'm not sure if I colored Buster's eyes correctly. I did a quick google search to find out, and it seemed like brown was the consensus answer.
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Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned. - W.C. Fields
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 7:36 pm

Little Caesar, your enlarged photo of Buster reveals one flaw that I'm always making myself - his eyebrows are the same color as his skin. I try to make the eyebrows match the hair color. If I decide not to color the hair, then I have to block out the skin color from eyebrows that can leave them looking too thin or too thick. It takes me a few trys to get it right or at least nearly right.

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John Barrymore in HOLD THAT CO-ED (1938)
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 9:37 pm

bobfells wrote:Little Caesar, your enlarged photo of Buster reveals one flaw that I'm always making myself - his eyebrows are the same color as his skin. I try to make the eyebrows match the hair color. If I decide not to color the hair, then I have to block out the skin color from eyebrows that can leave them looking too thin or too thick. It takes me a few trys to get it right or at least nearly right.


Actually, I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to color in the eyebrows or not. When I did it, I thought that it looked like Buster got his eyebrows the same way that Groucho Marx got his mustache. Anyway, looking at it again, perhaps it does look a little better this way. Colorizing this photo is sort of ironic in a way. I colorized a black and white photograph taken to promote a technicolor film. Anyway, all of this talk of colorizing is starting to make me want to tackle another photograph. :wink:
BTW, my name is Art. When I get some time, I really need to introduce myself in that intro thread.
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Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned. - W.C. Fields
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 10:56 pm

Some tips if you're looking to acquire natural color:

1) Work in layers. That way you can alter or delete entirely a section you don't like.

2) Don't use just "color" if you're using Photoshop. "Multiply" and "Screen" both have their place, if you set the layer as such, and carefully go in with some airbrush. That way, black doesn't always stay black if you use "Screen"—you get a more realistic color effect that doesn't look like you washed over a black and white photo.

3) Skin tones and hair tones are always a myriad of colors. Nose and cheeks should be blush, but not RED. Use the fairest pink you can find for a general skin tone (typically one that leans on the peach/yellow side) and then add layers of deeper pink over that. In the opposite of painting, where you paint dark to light, coloring should be light to dark.

4) Use varying airbrush flows. That will give you a more organic look.

5) Understand how colored light works. For example, study the highlights on Bogie's face in the real color photo. Zoom in as close as you can on his eyes and note the color there. Check out the variety of colors in his ear.

6) Take more time, and don't say "done" until it's really done. A lot of what I've seen so far is a good start, but could be even greater if some more time was taken out.

7) Probably most important: make sure you have a good, even contrast photo to begin with. Shy away from dupey-looking photos with "snap" to them. Look for even grays, with as little hot whites as possible. These type photos pick up color best.
J. Theakston
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 11:03 pm

Art, you bring up a good point about the irony of a b/w photo from a color film. I have several 8x10 stills from color films such as Flynn's ROBIN HOOD and I know exactly what colors are used from watching the movie. It might be fun to post a colorized photo from ROBIN HOOD, etc. just for the discussion it might provoke! (or maybe not)

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 11:17 pm

Jack Theakston wrote: Some tips if you're looking to acquire natural color.....

Jack, you lost me after the first or second tip. You won't believe how I use photoshop to color so I'll give you some examples of how I achieve my inimitable effects:

To create a flesh tone, I use one layer of lipstick. To redden a woman's lips I add a second layer but just on the lips. To lighten the flesh tone, I apply Lighten Lipstick. To darken (usually for men) or to suggest a tan, I apply a layer of Dark Sky.

I don't want to give away all my secrets but now you understand why people wonder how I achieve that unique "look" in my photos.
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Debbie & Olivia not Jane & Dorothy

PostFri Sep 16, 2011 2:48 am

Catching up on this and the now locked other thread I am surprised no one has yet commented on what to me looks like obvious mistakes in the identifications of two of the magazine photos posted by gagman on the other thread on Sept. 13 -
The one identified as Jane Powell looks more like Debbie Reynolds.
The first one identified as Dorothy Lamour looks more like Olivia deHavilland.

Anyone else agree?
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostFri Sep 16, 2011 7:11 am

Richard, I think you're right. Also, the second photo of Susan Peters (now that's a sad story) looks a bit like Joan Caulfield. That first photo of the unidentified gal looks vaguely familiar, a starlet to be sure, but the name escapes me.
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Debbie & Olivia not Jane & Dorothy

PostFri Sep 16, 2011 8:15 am

bobfells wrote:Richard, I think you're right. Also, the second photo of Susan Peters (now that's a sad story) looks a bit like Joan Caulfield. That first photo of the unidentified gal looks vaguely familiar, a starlet to be sure, but the name escapes me.


Here's a link to the other thread, so it can be more easily found, for those who'd like to check out the photos in question:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10325&start=30" target="_blank

Regarding the Susan Peters photos, I'm sure they're both correct. They're supposed to be from magazines, and have her signature printed right on them.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostSat Sep 17, 2011 9:58 pm

Here's a new Lon Chaney that I just finished. The challenge here was the skin tone. I think it looks appropriate but I'd appreciate any comments. Coloring non-caucasians is interesting. So how did I achieve this result?
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Not very difficult. I went to the "enhance" color control and adjusted the tint until it looked "right," whatever that is.
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Gagman 66

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostSat Sep 17, 2011 10:09 pm

Bob,

:) I think it looks great, although I would expect the robe to be mostly green or aqua. Here is a pic of Anna May Wong that I worked on a couple years ago. Admittedly, my Skin-tone needs some work.


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Last edited by Gagman 66 on Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostSat Sep 17, 2011 11:06 pm

Gagman wrote: I think it looks great, although I would expect the robe to be mostly green or aqua.

Admittedly, I chose the red, flecked with mandarin orange you'll notice, because I'm not happy with my greens. But now that you mentioned it, Gagman, I could have tinted the green into aqua the same way I did to get the skin tone. I like the Anna May Wong photo and the skin tone looks ok to me.

How's this?
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Gagman 66

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Re: Color from Black-and-White: colorized photos

PostSat Sep 17, 2011 11:59 pm

Bob,

:? Where are Lon's hands? Isn't there at least a finger or three visible there? I thought there was? I think I prefer the Crimson robe, so maybe you knew better than I did. Here is another still from MR. WU.

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