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.