By Phil Hecken
As many of you know, I love colorizations — particularly of old baseball photos — and I’ve run many colorized photos in the past (I’ve also attempted to colorize a few myself, with varying degrees of success, and even had a few colorization tutorials on Uni Watch over the years). Today, you’re about to “meet” another outstanding artist, Chris Whitehouse, who goes by “Man Cave” (Man Cave Photos, Man Cave Productions, ManCave Pictures, etc.) and who is particularly skilled in the art.
You’d be forgiven if you mistook the set of seven photos that appear in today’s splash for actual color photos — they’re not. They’ve all been colorized from old (in some cases, over 100 years old) photographs, and with incredible attention to detail. Before we get into today’s pictures, though, I wanted to introduce today’s featured artist to you.
So without further ado, here’s a brief interview I conducted with Chris (enjoy). Following the interview, you’ll see seven absolutely amazing “before and after” photos:
Uni Watch: OK, standard question first — how long have you been a Uni Watch follower and what first brought you to the blog?
Chris Whitehouse: I’m pretty sure it was nearly three years ago when I was searching for reference colors for an old knitted baseball warm-up sweater! (I found the reference, thank you)
UW: How old are you?
CW: I’m 57. Born in Elgin, IL about equal distance from Wrigley and Comiskey.
UW: I’ve always loved colorizations, and featured many (including some by you) on the blog. How long have you been doing them?
CW: I think it’s been about five years now, but before colorizing I had been doing photo restoration from around 1980 at university (Northern Illinois). Very primitive stuff at first. India ink on old prints and negatives, trying to get the spots out. Then burning and dodging in the dark room. All of the things that are ridiculously easier these days. I even tried coloring prints once with a set of photo colorizing ink. Results were, “Well that sucked. Don’t do this again.”
My first digital color job was a photo of my dad sitting in his jet in Korea for which I had done the black and white restoration, of a faded and creased print, years before. That came out really well, so I worked on a lot of other images, mostly old family photos and old images of Hong Kong, where I’ve been living since 86, and which I sell in a local museum.
UW: What program do you use? I always thought everyone used photoshop (or GIMP), but some guys use other programs?
CW: Photoshop exclusively. There really isn’t anything that I can’t do with it. My Wacom pen and tablet are also essential. I can’t imagine doing this work with a mouse.
UW: What attracted you to colorizations? Do you do any non-sports ones?
CW: See above
UW: Is this a hobby or do you do any of this professionally?
CW: At first a very serious hobby, but now more and more professionally. I also work with my brother who is a sports photographer, doing digital work on his images.
UW: Where can we see more of your work?
UW: How long did it take you to *learn* to colorize? Do you use any ‘tricks’ or special techniques?
CW: Since I had so many years experience with Photoshop (while making video games in Hong Kong) and digital restoration, it took just one image really. I think that my experience in restoration of the base image has given me a real boost because I notice that a lot of colorizers don’t even bother with it. This may limit them to only the better preserved historical images. As you can see from the before and after examples here, some of the pictures that I work on start out in pretty terrible condition. The power that Photoshop has to draw information out of seemingly hopeless areas of the images is really quite astounding.
UW: How long does an “average” colorization take? What picture took you the longest?
CW: A simple portrait with minimal restoration can be done in just a few hours. The longest would be a large team photo that is in bad shape, such as that 1909 Reds or the 1908 Cubs images seen here. Those can take several weeks all told, although I am never working on one image at a time because that would get pretty tedious. I always have many different images going at the same time to keep me fresh.
Great stuff Chris. OK, I asked Chris to send me seven of what he considers his “best” pictures, and if he’d describe them. They’re all below. You can click on any of the images to enlarge, of course.
Billy Sullivan, White Sox catcher, in 1911. Confronted with a horrible old ghostly image of a man like this and knowing that you can breathe life into him again is pure Photoshop joy.
The Cincinnati Reds in 1909, wearing a motley of home and away uniforms from several years, with a few other team’s warm up sweaters thrown in. This is what the dreams of Uni Watch must be like.
The head of Millard Huggins in the original (second from right top row) was badly cut and pasted from his cut off body on the far left. I replaced that authentic cut and paste with the modern equivalent.
I can imagine when they all dressed up differently and gathered for this photo that they were thinking what a great shot it would make. Not realizing that, like the Cubs, it would be 108 years before their colorful dream could be realized.
Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Phillies looking all heroic on the dugout steps in 1914. Coloring the crowds from these days is not as difficult as you imagine since the color pallet was more limited than today. Every man’s straw hat was straw colored…
Proud Manager Joe McCarthy with his two greatest stars, DiMaggio and Gehrig, in the Fenway Park dugout in 1937. Not the most exciting uniforms, but the excitement came from those who were wearing them.
My favorite image because of it’s composition. I don’t know if it was staged or a lucky shot. This is Brooklyn Robins’ Hi Myers, Manager Wilbert Robinson (from whom the team got it’s name-later to become the Dodgers), and their “mascot”. Meyers and Robinson are wearing the Robins’ 1916 checkerboard uniforms, while the mascot is stuck with the 1915 stripes. At Braves Field, Boston.
Speaking of the Cubs, I started working on this when this was their last Championship team and finished it when it was their previous. Inset are Evers, Chance, and Tinker. Photo was taken at the West Side Grounds in Chicago after their World Series win.
I sent a huge print of this, with a congratulations note, to Theo Epstein, but got no reply. This is why they are now playing around .500.
Giants manager John McGraw with Cubs star Johnny Evers at the Polo Grounds in 1912. I love how the Cubs away blues of today are so similar to this jersey.
Yowsa! Just great stuff Chris. Thanks so much for sharing and for giving the readers a look into the inner workings of the Man Cave Mind! I’m confident there will be more Man Cave offerings which shall be shared on here in the future.
Readers, how about a nice “virtual set of applause” for Chris’ talent and effort!
In Search of…
…the “Perfect” Baseball Card
Earlier this year, I ran a post in which reader Ray Hund described his quest — and “rules” — for a “Perfect” baseball card. I had asked readers to submit their own submissions for what they considered to be their own version of the perfect card. I’ll run these periodically. If you have a submission for your own “Perfect” baseball card, shoot me an email with a short(ish) writeup and of course, an image (or images) of your own perfect card.
We begin today with Alan Filipczak, who couldn’t decide on just one perfect card:
Call it millennial nostalgia if you’d like, but in my mind, the perfect baseball card design template will always be 1993 Topps. Every card in that set is a gem, though it’s tough to top the photos for two iconic sluggers of that era: the Big Hurt grinning and clutching three bats and Junior watching the ball sail upon completion of his perfect swing.
And we conclude today with John Furstenthal:
Always was a fan of Wade Boggs as a teenager, and collected baseball cards. This one was creative, and showed movement. One of the few if not only horizontal cards in this set.
I think these are the last two I have in my inbox (and if you sent me one I didn’t run, please resubmit) — but if you guys would like to continue with the this little segment, please send me your “perfect” card, my e-mail address is above.
Paul On The Air…
In case you missed it (I did — I only happened on this via a Google alert), Paul was interviewed on 101.3 FM (ESPN) radio.
”˜The Huddle’ talked with Paul the other day about the infamous “bullpen carts” that Brady had no idea about on Thursday’s show and then talked about some uniform changes in the NFL for 2017. And, could the Boston Bruins be getting new uniforms next year?
It’s only about 11 minutes and it’s worth a listen fer sure!
In Case You Missed It…Paul’s Latest ESPN Piece
In case you missed it on Thursday, Paul’s latest ESPN column takes a look at all the
yellow gold being worn by the four teams in the NBA and NHL finals, and also has his picks for the best “yellow-centric” uniforms ever in each of the major pro leagues.
If you didn’t read Paul’s latest piece, here ya go.
Good stuff there!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Somehow, on Friday night, Dusty Baker’s cap avoided the New Era advert (good spot by Aaron Rupar). … Maybe only 10-15% of players in the bigs wear stirrups/hosiery, but there are still plenty of guys in college still rockin’ the rups (from Greg Atwood). … I’m not sure when these will be worn, but check out these “The Greatest” jerseys for the Louisville Bats (h/t Ethan Moore). … I know this isn’t a big deal anymore, but since Tim Dunn sent in the pic — the Mariners & Rays went color vs color on Friday. … “I was at the Clemson/UNC-Greensboro game (Friday) night, and noticed that the NCAA’s policies now include sterilizing home-field advantage as much as possible,” writes Chip Powell. “All scoreboard graphics are in NCAA colors/designs instead of what Clemson normally uses, they would play the visiting team’s fight song when they scored, none of our usual in-game entertainment was allowed, and even our regular PA announcers were replaced by NCAA-approved announcers.” … N Davidson (NC) won 4A softball title. HC Mike Lambros battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The ladies got unis in his honor (from Patrick Wright). … The Memphis Redbirds wore these superhero costume, er, jerseys last evening (from Minor League Promos). … The one and only Jimmer Vilk was watching some Iron Pigs vs Sox travel baseball at Hudson (OH) High School. The Hudson Explorers’ field has a very Mariner-esque “H” logo. … Yesterday began MLB’s “Play Ball” initiative, and teams wore jersey patches to commemorate the games, but apparently not everyone got the memo (from James Beattie). … Did the St. Louis Cardinals wear spring training jerseys for batting practice yesterday? asks Name Redacted. “You can see the graphics on the numbers.” … It’s one thing to use a teammate’s bat. It’s another thing entirely to well, see for yourself. Submitter George Doig says of Carlos Gomez, “He must be a friend of Freddy Galvis … or a thief.” … With yesterday’s addition of the “Play Ball” patch, the Marlins are LOADED with them (patches include the Jose Fernandez memorial and ASG). From Robert Hayes.
NFL/WFL/USFL/CFL/College/Football News: As reported in yesterday’s ticker, not only will Michigan wear an alternate uni this coming season, it seems as though Jim Harbaugh helped design it (from School). Wonder if the pants will be khaki colored. … The NFL has sacked Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plans to drive an Eagles paint schemed car honoring teachers (from Michael McLaughlin). … Maybe the pros can learn from the tykes? Check out this texture on the Jaguars helmet on the far right from a peewee team in Mexico (from Cesar). … Texas Tech played their spring game blissfully logo free, and Chance Hester” wants to know why. Anyone? (The only thing I can think of is it’s one of those “you have to earn your logo/stripes” type of things, but isn’t that usually reserved for rookies/underclassmen?)
Hockey News: Couple things from Patrick Thomas: “So apparently Edmonton’s old third almost had a striping similar to the pre edge pens. Here’s a potential prototype.” … Also from Patrick, “This is on eBay…..it claims to be a 1995-1996 prototype for the Nordiques….very interesting.”
Soccer News: Turkish SÃ¼per Lig club Trabzonspor yesterday revealed their new home kit for the 2017-18 season. The new Trabzonspor 2017-2018 home kit was debuted in the last league match of the season against Bursaspor yesterday from Ed Å»elaski”). … Middlesbrough of The Championship (England Tier 2) released their 17-18 home kit (from Josh Hinton). … Barcelona have joined an elite group of clubs allowed to wear a ‘badge of honour’ on their shirts (from Derek McCord). … Liverpool have launched their away kit for next season, the second of three strips celebrating the club’s 125th anniversary. … In a move of which Paul would surely approve, Real Madrid played a game in a purple jersey, but then wore their traditional white for trophy presentation (from Griffin Smith). … “For (last) night’s friendly against Venezuela, the US men’s national team wore rainbow jersey numbers, presumably for Pride Month,” says Markus Kamp. “Interested to see whether they’ll wear them for World Cup qualifiers later in June!”
Grab Bag: What happens if you put the Mizuno logo and the Champion logo together? It looks like Batman dabbing (from Shawn). … Kanye West has made a pitch to redesign the Calabasas High School sports uniforms. … Jimmie Johnson will honor driver Cale Yarborough with slick helmet design.
And that’s it for today. Big thanks to Chris “Man Cave” Whitehouse for the wonderful colorizations. Hope you guys liked the “Perfect Baseball Card” series enough to keep it going — so if you do, send me your ‘perfect’ card with a short writeup.
That will do it for me for this weekend. Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you next Saturday…but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Pete Rose is a tool. … Hope his ego was juiced enough from big timing a bunch of hard working kids and I hope he blew the whole wad at the dog track.”