Photo Interactive: The Civil War, Now in Living Color
How one author adds actual blues and grays to historic photographs
- By Ryan R. Reed
- Smithsonian.com, February 22, 2013
(Courtesy of Prints & Photographs, Library of Congress)
The photographs taken by masters such as Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner have done much for the public’s perception of the Civil War. But all of their work is in black and white. The battlefield of Gettysburg is remembered as a shade of grey and the soldiers as ghostly daguerreotype images. Photography was in its infancy during the time and colorizing photographs was rare and often lacked the detail of modern imagery.
John C. Guntzelman is changing that; he’s created an accurate colorized portrayal of the Civil War. In The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States, Guntzeman tediously colorized hundreds of photos covering every aspect of the war.
Why did you choose to colorize Civil War photos as opposed to photos from another era?
The idea for this book came up when my wife and I were on vacation in Maui. This was back very late in 2007 and she was reading a book about the Civil War. We were both aware the Civil War sesquicentennial was on the horizon and somehow the idea came about to gather photographs dealing with the Civil War and colorize those.