Colouring the past – Klimbim

A new dimension in colours – Klimbim

It is easy to take the wold of pictures for granted today. Colour images are taken and disposed of with the blink of an eye, and whatever photo we take with our mobile devices, can just as easily be edited into what we might assume to be the perfect work of art.

But what about those pictures that were taken before our current technology? Sure, they have a dynamic sense of danger or classicism clinging to it, but when looking at old black and white frames, a psychological barrier between the moment in the picture, and what you currently feel and experience, comes into play.

This is where Olga Shirnina comes in. If you were in need of a bit of colour in your photos, then Olga would be the person coming to your rescue. Living and working in Moscow, she spends most of her time in front of a computer, as a Russian translator for the German langue, and was kind enough to grant us an interview, and tell us more about her passion for changing black and white in to colour.

Audrey Hepburn – Black and white pictures are brought into the world of colours
                       Arseny Tarkovsky – A Picture is worth a thousand words.
How long have you been colorizing pictures?

My first work in colouring was back in 2011, and at that time, I had no idea that it could be a business. I am a translator by occupation, and so in 2012 I received a book on colour theory that needed to be translated. If you ask me, I think it was a sign, nudging me in the direction of this kind of work. It helped me tremendously to structure my knowledge about colours and I learned a lot about colour combinations, complementary colours and so forth. Naturally, I wanted to put it all in practice, and so I gradually grew into it.

Are your client predominantly Russian or do you work on an international basis as well?

For a long time I had clients from all over the world but Russia! Initially I posted my colourings on Russian sites but was subsequently heavily criticized and received tons of negative feedback. Part of the reason for this was, the fact that I colorized pictures from Russian history and there are plenty of experts who were eager to find mistakes in uniforms, weapons etc. Art lovers also frowned upon the idea, in their own opinions exclaiming how tasteless the work was.

It then only made sense to me, to post colorized images elsewhere.

A young Romanian gentleman convinced me to publish a website and a Facebook page with my colourings and was even so kind as to set it up for me. This led me to receive some interesting commissions, such as the cover of the last book of Paulo Coelho about Mata Hari. I also had some deals with Russian publishers but the experience was not always positive.

Do you have a special interest in history or more toward the form of arts and visual expressions?

Both. Russian history fascinates me. It is full of dramatic, cataclysmic events, which not only had an impact on the history of the country, but also on the rest of the world. I regret to say that many people have an unbalanced view and understanding of Russia. Sometimes a picture can say more than many words are able to, and it gives me great pleasure to add to people’s knowledge and learning about Russia, through my work in colourings

I also find it interesting to work with colours, achieving different effects or copying the manner of great painters of the past.

Do you do a lot of research on a picture when you give it colour?

Yes, of course I do. Eye colour, uniforms, medals, and colours that were ‘fashionable’ at the time and many other factors. Andrey Malov, an expert in uniforms, has helped me a lot during the past few years. He, for example, pointed out that Nicholas II on the famous photo with his family from 1913 wears a crimson shirt, and not green as many others and I myself originally thought. He wore the uniform of the Life-Guards of the 4th Imperial Family’s Rifle Regiment.

There are many interesting people among my followers. Some of them are experts in fields like history or aeroplanes and they often criticize my colourings but also help me in the process. I’ve learned so many facts and history, and I know it will continue in this fashion.

Leo Tolstoy – One of the greatest writers ever

Vladimir Lenin – Russian communist revolutionary

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

There is a magic moment when you put colour on the black-and-white face and suddenly the person on the photo comes alive. Sometimes it is even a little terrifying when he or she looks direct into your eyes and seems to follow your movements.

Which is your favourite picture you have worked on?

It is hard to say. I think many colourists would agree that very often an image you have worked on for hours and you like a lot people just ignore. Like my colouring of the Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina. I found the drawing of Leon Bakst with all the original colours of her costume and transferred them unto the black and white image. I was satisfied with the result but the colouring was not popular at all!

Which was the most difficult picture you have worked on?

Pictures with lots of details, interiors and landscapes are not easy to work on. I like portraits and sometimes when I see that the person on the image looks “alive,” I’ll do other details in a less careful manner. I am still learning however, and hope that someday I will manage to reach a standard of perfection.

Do you think all pictures should be colourised or are there those that have greater value in black and white?

Black and white images are and remain a piece of history but the world was never monochrome even during the war. On top of that, it remains interesting to imagine how it was many years ago, and what historical figures whom we know from books or articles looked like. They were also flesh and blood like ourselves. Colour removes the time barrier between now and then or at least makes the moment captured, more transparent.

Do you prefer war pictures in particular?

Most colourists are men and they colorize war pictures. I saw that there were very few images containing the Red Army, and I decided to fill this gap. My first colourings however, received loads of negative comments. Some even wrote “Olga, stop your red propaganda!” In the beginning, this was a shock to me but now I colorize war photos and look with nonchalance at toxic comments.Colouring

The beautiful Tamara Karsavina, Russian prima ballerina

The image of Tamara Karsavina as mentioned above. 

Olga makes sure that proper respect is given to the photographers of these pictures and states that all are excellent in their craftsmanship and have created masterpieces. Olga herself only adds color to the original works, and also mentioned that she cannot take credit for the original works of art.

Article by:  Johannes A Snyman  Photos supplied and copyright by : Klimbim / Olga Shirnina  

Follow Olga on FACEBOOK and on her WEBSITE

Cookies and scented soap

Cookies and scented soap

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Hurrying past the duty-free shops on the airport, Amalia started to feel nauseous. The nausea actually started when she had to check in, but forcing herself to remain calm, she didn’t pay attention to the state of her body. She knew for a fact that her name couldn’t possibly have appeared on the police screens as a suspect, but still, her mind couldn’t help but to think of the “what ifs.” There was no turning back now. A brand new life will begin as soon as the plane takes off.

Her eyes glided over the expensive brand names in the aisle, but it all went unnoticed. Her attention was with Barry. The loving Barry. The Barry she once knew. The perfect husband Barry. The Barry everyone liked, and whom she loved with all her heart.

How is it possible that a person can become so controlling and so ridiculously jealous? Everyone has friends. Male and female friends. True, there were things that she couldn’t discuss with Barry, however hard she tried, but she realized his lack of understanding triumphed her efforts. She was so desperately hungry for conversations about the deeper meaning of life. About faith and relationship, creativity and the abundance of life itself. But he wouldn’t hear of it. He limited his means of verbal communication to rugby, braai and politics. The racial side of politics as he would get so worked up by the government’s incompetence.

It was inevitable that she would eventually find someone who shared her interests and her passion for spiritual and personal growth. It didn’t really matter if this someone was a male or female friend. What mattered was that she, Amália found a friend with whom she could share ideas and a part of her life that she greatly valued. She didn’t even spend a dedicated time with this guy. Their chats were limited to half an hour or an hour after church, never alone and always in the company of other church members. A church Barry attended once and refused to go ever again.

“They are living under the law,” he said. “They focus too much on the old testament,” he complained.

Amalia quickly glanced at her watch, then fixed her eyes on the numbers above each boarding gate. The nausea wouldn’t go away. Could they halt the plane while taxiing to the runway? Do the Russians have the power to arrest her in Moscow on behalf of the South African police? On what charges? She would be a suspect but of what? No, she didn’t think so. It’s always like that in the movies. Once that plane takes off, you are home free baby! But not yet, she must still get through the boarding gate. The gate where there are security officers. They have computers and phones and walkie-talkies and goodness knows what other means of communication.

Amalia thought of praying but quickly realized that it wouldn’t help a bit. Not after what she had done. She’ll ask for forgiveness. But now is not the time. She read somewhere in the scriptures that there is a time for everything and now was the time to get on a plane with as few incidents as possible.

Alongside the rugby, braai and politics, Barry developed a new line of thinking. A married woman, apart from work related issues, ought not to have any social conversations with other men, regardless of their relationship status. Naturally, this new line of thinking quickly escalated to more than a few intense arguments. She then, good wife as she is, sacrificed the conversations with her dear friend at church, but Barry thought he needed to make a point and posted the whole affair as a question on Facebook.

It came as no surprise that a few of Barry’s friends, through a long line of comments, fully agreed with him. Those Facebook friends, who didn’t agree, conveniently neglected to publically give
their opinion. He wanted to make a point and so he did. He was right. She read it all. One notification after another, as he thought it only right to tag her in the question he posted. Until one man, wherever he came from, sarcastically commented that if Barry felt that way, he might consider locking his wife up in the house, buying her a leash and taking her for walks every afternoon.

That comment did not sit well with Barry, and he eventually took it out on her. He restricted her movements in every possible way. He monitored her every move. It became an obsession with him, so much so that she was the one who ended up seeing the psychiatrist. “Bipolar,” he said, but she knew better. She knew where the depression came from. She took the pills nevertheless.

Until about two weeks ago. It was nothing serious, she just neglected to renew her prescription. The effect however was more serious. It was dark. She didn’t know how to get rid of the awful feeling in her head. She wanted to run away from herself. He came barging into the kitchen with his ranting over where she was the previous day. She didn’t think, but at the same time she knew exactly what she was doing. She took the biggest steak knife, turned around and forced it into his neck. Not once, not twice, but repeatedly.

It was messy.

The two ladies and security guard at the boarding gate were professional and friendly. Pre-flight procedures took a while but no longer than usual. The airplane started moving toward the runway with the airhostesses performing their safety demonstrations. The armrests underneath Amalia’s arms vibrated a little as the flying capsule lifted itself into the air.

A new life just started with newfound freedom.

Maybe Barry was right after all. Maybe married woman shouldn’t speak to other men. Men were not as creative as woman when it came to making cookies from the drained blood, and bars of scented soap from the remaining parts of a corpse.

*****

Photo by
Olia Gozha