The Bluette Diner: What you may be Missing if you aren’t Colorizing your Black & White Photos
A poll asked the question “Which do you Prefer Black and White photographs or color? Asking a photographer such a question is really asking for trouble. I love black and white art photographers, to name a few: Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogene Cunningham, William Garnett, Annie Liebovitz, and Margaret Bourke-White. It’s not whether I like Black & White Better. For genealogy and forensic purposes Color makes a huge difference. And of course most of our early family photos, if we are lucky enough to have any, are in Black and White. If you haven’t tried colorizing your photos let me share some examples to inspire you to give it a try.
Let’s start with the Bluette Diner which my grandparents, Helen Mildred (SHELDON) and Roy Sidney LUNDBURG designed and owned in the late 1930’s in Oakland, Alameda County, CA. Here is a photo of the diner that has been colorized.
And here is the original:
Please note all the detail that comes to life with colorization. There’s a chocolate cake on the counter, Mily bottles and Fruit. It brings you right back to the era when a colorization is well done. This one had some help with the colors, since my grandmother had written details of the reverse. Thank you grandma!
“The shop is all blue & white & chromium. Front of counter is white leather with metal strip. The back bar is all satin aluminum blued on the wood.”
And it isn’t just places that benefit from colorizing. Here is Helen in front of the Bluette.
This is a photo of Helen’s two daughters Dorothy and Jane and a pony in Black & White about 1933:
See what a difference colorizing makes. Here are 3 different artist interpretations.
The first one the artist included some snow falling! If you use one of the FREE Facebook Colorizing groups you do not get to chose the artist. You will note each one uses different colors and brings out different details. Note the boots in the middle photo.
Here is another comparison this of Helen Mildred Sheldon
So where can you get this done? You can purchase software and learn to do it yourself. You can upload to one of the FREE Facebook groups, You can use MyHeritage’s restoration and colorizing tools or you can hire an artist that specializes in restorations. There are quite a few listed on Etsy.com
I can’t finish this post without rounding out a bit more background on the Bluette. My grandmother Helen Mildred SHELDON graduated from Michigan Agricultural College with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics 18 June 1912. So she was perfectly equipped to make a go of a Diner.
The Bluette business card.
And a clipping from the Oakland Tribune 16th of August 1936:
And one last photo of Roy S. LUNDBURG standing at the entrance and likely my aunt Dorothy in the shadow. Yet to be colorized.
If you haven’t tried colorizing please give it a try. You may be surprised on the richness it adds to your photos and stories. Feel free to post before and after photos in the comments.
Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021. All RIghts Reserved.
I may be in the right place, wright time. I’m a senior on a budget, so I do all my photo tricks on my Lg Note 6, Android operating system vers. 10. Does anyone have suggestions for a capable app for a cell phone? I’d also like to share a little trick I learned accidentally. On negatives I have, I’ve found a white screen in my TV set. Tape the negative gently to the white screen. Then I take a photo with my cell phone on invert mode & take a picture. I’ll attach a couple of before and after.
Marti I can’t help with the app but I LOVE your idea of the negatives. A light box could work too.
Yes ma’am but this one is free❤️. We’ve got to put our head’s together. There are 2 Leonard Moser’s in our trees. Mine is Johann Leonardt Moser. Son of Johann Georg Phillip Moser 6th great grand. Jacob Moser Sr is my 4th great grand. Barnett M Moser my 3rd great grand. Elkanah Moser 2nd great grand. John Ephraim Moser great grand. Homer Lawrence “Jack L” Moser grandfather. Father Billy Foye Moser father and then me, 4th of 5 children.
Leonhard was NOT the son of Johan Georg Phillip as originally thought. Gary MOSER found the baptism. Leonard’s parents were actually Adam Moser and Elisabetha Wollinger. He was their last born child and forth son. I can send you the copy if you message me.
Wright time? Oh gosh. How about right time 👍
I would love that. I didn’t see a private message option but I’m hoping you have my email. Thank you,
It’s on my About Me page! I will write you later today.
Wonderful. Looking forward to it
Very good point about improving ability to see details if photo is colorized. Thanks for sharing your family history and your techniques!
THANK YOU Marian! Appreciate the feedback.
Interesting post. I have always preferred to leave black and white “as is” — but I have to say, some of these photos look very good. May try this on one of mine to see if I take to it.
I felt that way as well—but there is so much more in the color—things you just miss too easily—-and the people seem more approachable.
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