Complimenting his existing work, historic photographer and colourizer Mariusz Zając has once again wowed the internet, this time after releasing a painstakingly remastered video showing Poland during the early years of WWI.
Beginning at Dworzec Wiedeński, the city’s main train station, the video clearly shows a sign with the name: Haupt-Bahnhof Warschau – the name given to the station after the city was occupied by German troops in August 1915.
Smiling, a group of German officers with plush handlebar mustaches check documents as curious crowds of Poles gather to watch a column of captive Russian officers escorted to a platform.
Against a background of moving and suspenseful music, the video then heads to the Jewish quarter to show the neighborhood teeming with life. Often smiling broadly, a crowd of people jostle happily to be filmed.
Speaking to TFN, Zając said, “A lot of the topics I color are the result of Internet subscribers sending me interesting material. This was the case with this film. I was sent the link and to my amazement saw that it contained pictures of Warsaw that I had never seen before. “
Turning to Poznań, the video then shows a seemingly endless phalanx of spiked troops marching en route to the front as part of von Hindenburg’s army, before returning again to Warsaw to showcase the epic view of the cathedral Nevsky.
Symbolic of Imperial Russia’s hegemony over the Poles, a little over a decade later it would no longer exist, destroyed and dismantled as part of independent Poland’s desire to shed reminders of domination Russian.
Providing subtle context, these frames do a lot to demonstrate Poland’s historically unhappy geography, sandwiched between two competing empires.
Colored using a pioneering technique developed by Zając, the six-minute film is a breathtaking work that captures both the excitement and apprehension that greeted this first stage of the war.
That he’s so compelling is a tribute to Zając’s skills, and especially since he only started exploring this genre properly last year.
“I started taking coloring seriously after the success of my first photos and films,” he says.
“These debuted in February 2020, and that’s when I realized there was hardly any competition in this area – that’s when I decided to take advantage of this niche and really expand my knowledge. “
Juggling jobs in the IT industry and, also, as a wedding photographer, his previous experience in digital photographic post-production worked in his favor, and he has since perfected his own methods to give extra authenticity to his colorizations. .
“I started coloring photos of pre-war Warsaw because there are no color photos from that period – the first ones that have survived were only taken during the 1944 uprising, so fine. that you can find many beautiful photos of Warsaw, none are in color.
“As for coloring, I’m obviously not the first to do it, but I think I approached the whole subject of coloring in a totally different way from others,” he says.
While others resorted to more basic manual methods, Zając instead sought to harness his technical knowledge.
“My post-production, in addition to the use of artificial intelligence algorithms, is based on the ‘computer’ post-production of images,” he explains.
Simply put, Zając uses the Oldify program first before releasing his own AI algorithms.
“I try to modify the image so that the graphics program does as much of the work as possible on its own, and I have found that such an approach achieves a very high level of detail in the image. coloring.
This, he says, gave extra realism to his production.
Likewise, it differentiated him from others. “The coloring of archival films depends entirely on the artistic vision of the creator, because even today there is absolutely no way to read true colors from a monochromatic image,” he says.
“However, deOldify and other graphics programs use neutral network algorithms to automatically cover photos, which is why every image processed this way will end up with such similar coloring.”
Going further, says Zając, his processes have given the videos and images he works with a whole new dimension compared to those that came before him.
Certainly, its colors bring the conflict to life to convey the scale of the first large-scale mechanized war on the planet.
Exuding a weird and poignant feeling, the featured clips also offer an intriguing glimpse into what Warsaw would look like.
With just the bridges destroyed during the Russian retreat, we are entitled to a panorama of a city in the grip of heavy industrial development.
Dominated by the chimneys – especially the one that hovered over the Powiśle Power Station (now relaunched as a mixed-use center of Elektrownia) – only the destroyed humps of the Poniatowski Bridge hint at an ongoing war.
“I think it was the scene that struck me the most,” Zając admits. “As someone who has lived in Warsaw all their life, I myself have crossed this bridge hundreds, if not thousands, of times.”
But there are also hints of tragedy, and it’s hard to feel nothing but overwhelming compassion as the camera focuses on a fleet of sailboats packed with desperate refugees fleeing west.
Humanized by Zając’s use of color, the pain and sadness etched on their faces is tangible.
Already boasting over 40,000 views since it premiered on YouTube last week, the video has served to cement Zajac’s success. Growing reputation as one of the most exciting colorizers in practice today.
For others, however, it’s about something more powerful: a touching and nostalgic sight of a city that would suffer an even greater catastrophe in the lives of many of those captured in the video itself. same.
To see more amazing photos of Maruisz Zając, click here: http://www.zajacfoto.com/Fotograf_kolorowa_przedwojenna_warszawa.html