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Scenes From the Civil War, in Brilliant Color Scenes From the Civil War, in Brilliant Color

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Defense

Scenes From the Civil War, in Brilliant Color

photo of Marina Koren
October 7, 2013

The Civil War looked a lot more vivid to photographers on the sidelines than the black-and-white pictures they took let on. But, thanks to modern technology, scenes from America's bloodiest war can be restored and recreated in full color.

Jordan J. Lloyd, a colorist for Dynamichrome, a digital image-restoration agency, brings old photos back to life, from grainy, glass-plate originals to high-resolution JPEGs. For the following images, Llyod researched extensively the Civil War era, down to the shoulder marks of commanders. He cleaned up scratches and blemishes and corrected for light exposure to restore the images to their original condition.

Lloyd then applied multiple layers of color to the original, much like highlighting an image with a colored pencil. The more layers piled on, the more realistic the photo becomes, Lloyd says. Extra layers reveal a slight flush in the subjects' faces, sharpen reflections, and add gleam to metals in the scene.

Scroll down for fuzzy befores and stunning afters.

Union Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg stands with the senior staff of his Federal Second Cavalry Division, possibly near Fredericksburg, Va., in June 1862—in color. Colorized from a glass-plate negative.(Jordan J. Lloyd /Dynamichrome)

Union Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg stands with the senior staff of his Federal Second Cavalry Division, possibly near Fredericksburg, Va., in June 1862. Photographed by celebrated 19th-century photographer Mathew Brady.(U.S National Archives)

Union Capt. Henry Cunningham poses next to a command tent in Bealeton, Va., in August 1863—in color.(Jordan J. Lloyd /Dynamichrome)

 

Union Capt. Henry Cunningham poses next to a command tent in Bealeton, Va., in August 1863.(Library of Congress)

Three unidentified Confederate soldiers rest on a stack of timber on top of Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg, Pa., in June or July of 1863. The original was taken by Mathew Brady. Full restoration from a damaged plate, clouds added.(Jordan J. Lloyd /Dynamichrome)

A restored 1860 portrait of Caleb Lyon, the unpopular, Abraham Lincoln-appointed governor of the Idaho Territory. Full restoration of a heavily damaged plate, color scheme inspired by Rembrandt's 1641 portrait of Nicolaes Van Bambeeck.    (Jordan J. Lloyd /Dynamichrome)

 
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