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The Colourisation Revolution

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Continuation of another thread about 00 works locomotive. There are generally mixed feelings about this method of adding colour to black and white photos. Usually centering around (when it comes to railways anyway) Locomotive prototypes being butchered and put into the wrong colour as i said before....

 

The point if colorising is not for precise colours. It is rather to spark the imagination of somone as to give them a better idea of what it was like if they werent there and see B/W photos much harder to understand. Some cheap colorising programmes are awful and make everything into browns and ocasional greens. My one does the odd very convincing one (typically if the sky is done correctly done). Ballast and platforms often come out with green simetimes but that be altered sometimes and the worst offender of all when looking at railway related colourisation's is loco's and Rolling stock which often looks completely wrong.

Screenshot_20210319-161222_Instagram.thumb.jpg.059fb031e2e93e5b058cd4bb62c4033f.jpg

-A good colourisation. No locomotive, beutiful sky and some might even mistake it as real colour photography at a glance. 

IMG_20200825_140757_568.thumb.jpg.db40e14012094d13b970d79bf506f25b.jpg

-When Colourisation goes bad. A bullied railcar wears orange like its 1985! The station looks dull, C class looks like a dirty silver C class when in that pic it should be green.

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Now here is one done by "Old Ireland In Colour" who while don't have experience in railways (they didn't know the buffer beam was supposed to be red initially) Are considered the top colourisation pages in Ireland. Despite having access to proper tools to modify some of the colours using photoshop  that "Brown" vibe still remains off themScreenshot_20200801-145751_Facebook.thumb.jpg.d248acf7c36148f0df50818ea0093a37.jpg

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I love seeing colourised pics like this. 

 

Yeah the AI generated ones have a long way to go, but they give an impression of 3 dimensions at least. 

Its amazing what kind of detail starts to pop out at you when you see it in colour. Maybe its just me but I find it quite hard sometimes to pick out B&W photos as 3d haha. 

 

There is a chap on twitter who does beautiful colourisations in brilliant detail but I can't remember his name now. I'll find it later and post it. Not sure if he has done any trains yet but some lovely city views.

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14 hours ago, Westcorkrailway said:

IMG_20200611_112938_056.jpg.5fa7efe353b5f82c4bdd2420c413aba8.jpg

The thing that holds this photo back is the sky. If a blue sky was picked up on even half these photos it would make then 200 times better. Many times will it be a dull day or completly white as seen here

Even then, the entire train and water tank are all the one colour. You would need faded wood colour for the tank support, rust and faded black paint on the tank, grey on the locomotive and maroon on the carriages. This, to me, is the problem with this medium - you’ve got but two colours - green and unintelligible drab.....

12 hours ago, Bumble_Bee said:There is a chap on twitter who does beautiful colourisations in brilliant detail but I can't remember his name now. I'll find it later and post it. Not sure if he has done any trains yet but some lovely city views.

According to an expert in this technology who I know, with current methods, to do a half-decent job you need the VERY top of the range gear, and hours and hours per image. He has done a book which was released recently to much fanfare, and featured on the Late Late Show. 

I tried to persuade him to do another one of railway images but he’s no plans to do anything more (yet, anyway!).

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8 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

Even then, the entire train and water tank are all the one colour. You would need faded wood colour for the tank support, rust and faded black paint on the tank, grey on the locomotive and maroon on the carriages. This, to me, is the problem with this medium - you’ve got but two colours - green and unintelligible drab.....

According to an expert in this technology who I know, with current methods, to do a half-decent job you need the VERY top of the range gear, and hours and hours per image. He has done a book which was released recently to much fanfare, and featured on the Late Late Show. 

I tried to persuade him to do another one of railway images but he’s no plans to do anything more (yet, anyway!).

I have that book and he has done a great job alright. But as is even some of thr best colourisation teams with hours of work and propper editing and what end up with the same result as my 5 minute job when it comes to the locos themselves. 

This is a brilliant pic but i dont think any lines in kerry had blue coaches

p0014cdd9-1600.thumb.png.27e6825c3ddd84f6ffaaca1387178bd7.png

The train isn't great in the S&SLR Pic. But it wasn't very imaginative in the original B/W photo either. The earlier the black and white photography. The worse the colourisation struggles it seems

We see this here in this early picture of timoleague......there is something very hazy about it.

IMG_20200613_110550_398.thumb.jpg.1c9c9be938a735c1f16de64d5d5d9af2.jpg

 

 

 

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I've found doing a few things increases the chance of a good colourisation:

  • Split the image out in multiple parts (ie. mask out everything but the train & everything except the train), colourise both images then merge them back together - this is really time consuming but often produces much better results as different lighting in a scene (a matte background vs. a reflective train) confuses the algos.
  • There's two popular trained models that nearly all sites and software use for this conversion, one was trained on 11.5k 512x512px images and the other on 55k 1024x1024px images.
    Models always do marginally better on images the exact size they were trained on, so if you can crop or upscale to those sizes, you'll get better results.
  • 80% of the images come out way under saturated so drag them into Photoshop or Photopea (free online PS alternative) and crank the saturation way up.

Spent a good while looking through your page yesterday @Westcorkrailway thanks for all your efforts! Some great results there

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4 hours ago, ShaneC said:

I've found doing a few things increases the chance of a good colourisation:

  • Split the image out in multiple parts (ie. mask out everything but the train & everything except the train), colourise both images then merge them back together - this is really time consuming but often produces much better results as different lighting in a scene (a matte background vs. a reflective train) confuses the algos.
  • There's two popular trained models that nearly all sites and software use for this conversion, one was trained on 11.5k 512x512px images and the other on 55k 1024x1024px images.
    Models always do marginally better on images the exact size they were trained on, so if you can crop or upscale to those sizes, you'll get better results.
  • 80% of the images come out way under saturated so drag them into Photoshop or Photopea (free online PS alternative) and crank the saturation way up.

Yes, indeed - that shows, I suppose, the efforts necessary to do a credible job. The pic of the Timoleague area above shows what can be done, and the above colourisation of the scene on the Cork City Railway is nice - but perhaps easier for the AI to do!

Anyway, overall, I watch this technology with interest. I am definitely not a fan of the current rash of "colourised" photos all over the internet, which in reality look like a black and white pic with a mug of coffee spilt of bits of it, and the thought of a bullied railcar with a "desert sand" front like a Dublin bus in 1980, or blue coaches in Kerry, would induce attacks of the Screaming Fits, Multiple Conniptions and Heeby-Jeebies in any mere mortal, but the long term will bring out some beauties, I am sure.

5 hours ago, Westcorkrailway said:

 

p0014cdd9-1600.thumb.png.27e6825c3ddd84f6ffaaca1387178bd7.png

 

"Hey, Sarge! I think I've found him! ..... Come ON out, you, with your hands UP! We're gonna TEACH ye to colourise carriages in BLUE!"

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8 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Yes, indeed - that shows, I suppose, the efforts necessary to do a credible job. The pic of the Timoleague area above shows what can be done, and the above colourisation of the scene on the Cork City Railway is nice - but perhaps easier for the AI to do!

Anyway, overall, I watch this technology with interest. I am definitely not a fan of the current rash of "colourised" photos all over the internet, which in reality look like a black and white pic with a mug of coffee spilt of bits of it, and the thought of a bullied railcar with a "desert sand" front like a Dublin bus in 1980, or blue coaches in Kerry, would induce attacks of the Screaming Fits, Multiple Conniptions and Heeby-Jeebies in any mere mortal, but the long term will bring out some beauties, I am sure.

"Hey, Sarge! I think I've found him! ..... Come ON out, you, with your hands UP! We're gonna TEACH ye to colourise carriages in BLUE!"

Ahh eventually the AI will catch up. If there was a version where you could tell the AI that say this portion is green ect. It loves painting platforms, ballast, and any spec if vegetation in green......But railcars....never!

 

On my page we call it "the curse of the Red Railcar"IMG_20200825_140757_569.thumb.jpg.04373b65d7f999228d67a8bd77f5675b.jpg

so orange it looks like its been either been left outside for 40 years or in supertrain livery!

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49 minutes ago, Westcorkrailway said:

Ahh eventually the AI will catch up. If there was a version where you could tell the AI that say this portion is green ect. It loves painting platforms, ballast, and any spec if vegetation in green......But railcars....never!

 

On my page we call it "the curse of the Red Railcar"IMG_20200825_140757_569.thumb.jpg.04373b65d7f999228d67a8bd77f5675b.jpg

so orange it looks like its been either been left outside for 40 years or in supertrain livery!

That should require a sentence of 40 years hard labour for the “artist”! 
 

The serious point is that like preserved things in wrong liveries, a future serious historian can be misled into thinking that things WERE these colours when they were in use....

I’m off to get my smelling salts....

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9 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

That should require a sentence of 40 years hard labour for the “artist”! 
 

The serious point is that like preserved things in wrong liveries, a future serious historian can be misled into thinking that things WERE these colours when they were in use....

I’m off to get my smelling salts....

Interesting thread.

As JHB says, with no mention of Tin Vans at all, it's very important that photos such as these are watermarked with a warning before publishing or sharing privately.

It would be a great idea to remove already published photos and replace with watermarked versions. It is impossible to imagine today the use / mis-use that may befall the images in the future.

 

 

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9 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

That should require a sentence of 40 years hard labour for the “artist”! 
 

The serious point is that like preserved things in wrong liveries, a future serious historian can be misled into thinking that things WERE these colours when they were in use....

I’m off to get my smelling salts....

Lucky for us right now.....95 percent of cases its SO obvious whats colourised and whats not. And on mine anyway there is a little painbrush icon to show that it is colourised....unfortunatly instagram squares that off sometimes.....which is a b*llox to be fair. Colourising has become a hugetrend. When I started may of last year "old ireland in colour" had about a thousand followers. Now they have a book with 1 million in sales! 2020 really kicked it off. Some of them half decent and some of them just look coffee stained! The pure number of them means it will be impossible to re mark these up. These sacrifice historical accuracy for accessibility. Which while it makes it easier for youngsters like myself to research it. It might throw peiple off. However considering that all my photos are on the internet in a black and white version and i beleive that in 40 years AI will improve to where i can improve these images to a much better standerds and hopefully make the art of colorising a lot more ethical. Hopefully in the future people will still be into reading and hence realise that AEC railcars were green....Along with other issues. The policy for all ye future historians out there is....."if it looks too brown......dont trust it"

 

But look at the photos below and draw your own conclusions 

11400440514_99c7f0191b_b.thumb.jpg.509072267901278dc6ba2fc1ac84178c.jpg

Origional B/W roger joanes

IMG_20200603_152142_013.thumb.jpg.5a0509eb88dbb53203d57fb9b88dabcb.jpg

Colourised of the exact same photo 

IMG_20201114_140012_040.jpg.8ee47c5288a2609a08b8bcabaf4acd11.jpg

A VERY simular view in colour. Only this C is supposed to be silver!

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Seems a lot of the really good results is people using the colourising algos to get a rough idea of the colours of the different componnets of the image and then essentially manually painting/editing those in with the same colours in a way that looks more realistic. So most of the real good ones have some amount of creative liberty going on.

Edited by ShaneC
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3 hours ago, Westcorkrailway said:

Lucky for us right now.....95 percent of cases its SO obvious whats colourised and whats not. And on mine anyway there is a little painbrush icon to show that it is colourised....unfortunatly instagram squares that off sometimes.....which is a b*llox to be fair. Colourising has become a hugetrend. When I started may of last year "old ireland in colour" had about a thousand followers. Now they have a book with 1 million in sales! 2020 really kicked it off. Some of them half decent and some of them just look coffee stained! The pure number of them means it will be impossible to re mark these up. These sacrifice historical accuracy for accessibility. Which while it makes it easier for youngsters like myself to research it. It might throw peiple off. However considering that all my photos are on the internet in a black and white version and i beleive that in 40 years AI will improve to where i can improve these images to a much better standerds and hopefully make the art of colorising a lot more ethical. Hopefully in the future people will still be into reading and hence realise that AEC railcars were green....Along with other issues. The policy for all ye future historians out there is....."if it looks too brown......dont trust it"

 

But look at the photos below and draw your own conclusions 

11400440514_99c7f0191b_b.thumb.jpg.509072267901278dc6ba2fc1ac84178c.jpg

Origional B/W roger joanes

IMG_20200603_152142_013.thumb.jpg.5a0509eb88dbb53203d57fb9b88dabcb.jpg

Colourised of the exact same photo 

IMG_20201114_140012_040.jpg.8ee47c5288a2609a08b8bcabaf4acd11.jpg

A VERY simular view in colour. Only this C is supposed to be silver!

This is exactly what I meant - in the colourised version of Roger’s pic, it’s impossible to tell what colour the train is supposed to be. The “C” class loco is actually green, and that particular coach was also the lighter green, matching.

3 hours ago, ShaneC said:So most of the real good ones have some amount of creative liberty going on.

Indeed - and if they get their inspiration from in incorrectly painted preserved vehicle (the majority!), the myth perpetrates......

Yes, I know that in the grand scheme of things nobody will give a toss in 200 years’ time, but when it’s as easy to record history accurately as otherwise, I think it’s a shame not to.

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33 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

This is exactly what I meant - in the colourised version of Roger’s pic, it’s impossible to tell what colour the train is supposed to be. The “C” class loco is actually green, and that particular coach was also the lighter green, matching.

Indeed - and if they get their inspiration from in incorrectly painted preserved vehicle (the majority!), the myth perpetrates......

Yes, I know that in the grand scheme of things nobody will give a toss in 200 years’ time, but when it’s as easy to record history accurately as otherwise, I think it’s a shame not to.

I suppose its a case of like the amount of photos and paintings doctored by stalin for propaganda purposes. No matter what happens these photos are going to be colourised anyway and places like the NLI and IRRS will (more then likely) always exist as a valuable source of information and colour photos that make sense

Besides if somone does propper research into the topics. They will eventually find the correct answers

If West Cork Railway Colourised survives the next 50 years. Ill be able to tell people whats accurate and whats not... if these really do become a problem which i dont think they will 

 

At least in this one taken in a time where colour cameras were hardly used it (might) be easy to distinguish it as colourised

IMG_20200613_110550_386.jpg.e6dc8a44fd0411cf9b63a03dff27024f.jpg

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  • 6 months later...

The technology will improve with time. The problems are the algorithm which is incorrect and will be improved upon. The other is the actual quality of the B&W image itself because of the camera itself, and the processing methods. Let’s face it the film used is an interpretation of light and records contrast and little more. Colorization is frustrating work but not as frustrating and people putting NIR color schemes on A class and the like which drives me demented. 

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