History of this collection:
For several years I have been working on cleaning up black and white images and adding color. Deciding that the ultimate challenge would be colorize images from the Civil War, I started CivilWarIn3D.com. Since our founding we obtained access to the complete digital archive in the Library of Congress. These images were scanned directly from the original negatives and stored in a resolution of 100Mb for each half of the stereo images. The final combined set of cleaned and colored images can exceed 1Gb in size!
The image condition varies. Scratches, broken glass, missing pieces, etc. are very common. For this reason many hours have been spent trying to first return the images to the quality that they were during the Civil War and adding color. To restore the images, carefully removing scratches, nicks, scrapes and age spots, is done by reviewing every portion of the image at maximum resolution. Then for larger damage, the use of similar images or the other half of the stereo pair was used. For example, several of the images had numerous versions taken. Photographs of Grant and Sherman were done two or three times and then a final pair was chosen for publication. Using some of these additional photographs allowed the image to be restored to its original quality. Other images had only the other half of the stereo pair as a source for repair. Since the images are not the same, simply duplicating the entire image would result in a flat 2D effect. However, it is possible to retain the 3D quality when repairing a chip or small piece that has been lost due to time.
After the images are restored, we then began the work of coloring them. We relied both on experience working with black and white images as well as in depth research to get the proper color and shade that was appropriate to the period. Even with that knowledge, some images cannot be restored. The original image maybe to dark or to light to recreate color. An image that is pure black and white will not colorize. Shades of gray allow a color image to be produced.
Are the colors right? Obviously, the color of a dress or the shade of paint on a building may never be known, but most of the images are soldiers in battle. Using images available from museums and re-enactors, etc. enabled color for the uniforms, armaments, etc. to be matched closely. Modern pictures of some of the battle areas show what the original color of the rocks, etc. should be. With this research, we feel, as much as possible, this is what the color picture would have looked like if the technology had been available.