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Colorization of the Bell X-1E on Rogers Lake, 1956
This black and white photo was taken on June 18th 1956 and was pulled from the NASA digital archives. The cool looking plane with the slightly busted up nose is a Bell X-1E, the very first plane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight. The united states government referred to these planes as X-planes, because anything experimental and top secret has to be called X-something.
This particular plane was flown by United States Air Force pilot Joe Walker. This model of X-plane was the first generation and were well known for nose gear failures. The hard pitch down on landing usually resulted in a collapsed nose gear. The damage rarely was serious but required several days of down-time for repair.
The colorization of this photo wasn’t difficult, but there is a great deal of sky in this photo and that can ruin the whole thing if not done right. I used two layers of blue for the sky and used my gradient tool to lighten the areas at the horizon and blend into the sky above that. For colorizing the lake water I used two layers of blue, one layer of green and some brown shading.
Research took up a considerable amount of my time on colorizing this photo. I like to make sure everything is as accurate as possible, especially when it comes to military photos. I was unsure if the military fire truck in the background was red or military green. I found that both existed at the time on military bases so I went with red to add more color to the photo.
The full size black and white photo is below as well as my full size colorization. Feel free to share this colorization on your social network of choice or leave any comments or questions in the comment section below.