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Instagram reveals Old Ghent — in colour

© Korneel Bostuyn

A page on Instagram has begun posting photos of Old Ghent, colourised. The page is maintained by one Korneel Bostyn, an artist active all over social media.

Colourising of still print images is usually done by hand and according to Bostyn, each one of his prints can take 30 hours to complete.

Of course, he has access to Photoshop and a digital pen but the work, by the looks of it, still requires a steady hand to achieve the desired effect.

“I do it in chunks, but I took 30 hours on a particular photo,” he told the VRT. Sometimes it only takes 3 or 4 hours. It depends on how much detail there is in the photo.”

Obviously, the people in the photos, from as early as 1900, experienced their own world in colour – a concept some find difficult to grasp – but the images that have been passed down to us in black and white present a different world to the one we live in.

The colourised images restore something of the reality of the past. However, there remains a certain unreal aspect to the prints, like seeing Paris through a Renoir painting.

That said, this is not photo-journalism: that was done by the original photographer. What Bostyn has done is bring the artistic element to the journalist – which we can all be grateful for from time to time.

Each photo on the Instagram page features the original and the colourised version. We include some examples here.