Dyatlov Pass in color

As a tribute to the Dyatlov group, many people colorize the period's black and white photos. Colorization of old photos has always been something that incites controversy. Some find it scandalous, especially since there is no science to compensate what detail is lost in the black and white film (and that's a fact) but followers of the case can contribute what they can to keep the memory of the hikers. While I was deep in researching colors from sources, the D-ID we published from the same artist that submitted all of the automatically colorized photos had a tremendous success. Processing with software results in huge amount of photos that can be produced (read more). I had moral and authenticity dilemmas regarding the colorization of the Dyatlov Pass incident photos to deal with, before deciding to give the project a green light. Green as the spring that just started and in the name of all the springs the Dyatlov group won't see, here are photos of them in color. The disclaimer Steve Halliday gave me is: "This has been done as a labour-of-love in tribute to 9 people who went off on an adventure together and never came home. The colour restorations depicted here are not claimed to be historically accurate."

As for the moral aspect of it, here is my justification: "The authors of the photos themselves, the dead members of the group, would have been thrilled to have had the opportunity to make photos in color. The fact that the photos are black and white is not by explicit choice but this is what they had back in their time. Most importantly, after rummaging through colorized photos for days when I got back to the black and white originals, I felt... diminished. As if life was drained from the photos. I would support anything that breathes life into the memory of the Dyatlov group."

Comment on social media: "The color really adds something. They were just ordinary people doing what they enjoyed. May they be forever remembered." I agree with it.


Personal photos »


Trek photos »


Automatic vs. Manual colorization

Yuri Krivonischenko's camera film 1 frame 5

Photos from my own personal archive - in memoriam of my dear friend Milko Mikov

My experiments show that canvas jackets, similar to those that Dyatlov group is wearing, when colorized with software turn out all the same.

I have seen canvas storm jackets typical for the time in green (in my photos me and my friend Milko Mikov are wearing such), or khaki, as on the cover of the book Conquering the celestial mountains (1958). From all this rumination take that the clothing on the Dyatlov group are not bluish-grey as on the automatically colorized photos. And there is no unevenly distributed purple hue tint over the clothes. Nevertheless the outcome reminds me of Churkina's note:

"I was present during the medical examination of the bodies conducted by Boris Vozrozhdenniy. I remember well when they took off their clothes and hung them on ropes, we immediately noticed that they had some strange light purple hue, although their natural colors were different. I asked Boris - Don't you think that the clothes are processed with something? - He agreed."

The automatic colorization of the canvas storm jackets illustrates what Churkina might have noticed.

Why do it if they don't get it right​?

I have two big positives:

1. The complexion of the skin, at least for Caucasian race, is remarkably better than in the manually colorized photos.

My personal opinion is that this iconic photo looks best in B&W.

2. The entire film can be processed with the same parameters so all photos look consistent.
2.1. No one would otherwise spend time colorizing frames with defects, but the software brings out details that otherwise will go unnoticed.

In the following examples the information is there but I noticed only after first seeing it on the colorized photos and then going back to the originals.

I can clearly see Zolotaryov.

These are Kolmogorova, Dubinina and Kolevatov.

What is this light in the left upper corner?

Colorized photos of the Dyatlov group is an interesting view, even if not exactly accurate. The question is why. There is a commemoration, but there is also an attempt for investigation. While the former is a question of taste, and I don't like the late Kuntsevich oil paintings collection, or Komsomolskaya Pravda sketches on their dedicated web site, I am drawing the line at aged portraits. They died young, they stay young - give them at least that. But no, according to a theory some they have aged decades during the trek.

Yuri Kuntsevich and his famous collection of oil paintings

Color of the eyes from the autopsy reports

I have been asked for the color of the eyes of the members of the Dyatlov group and since the only reason we know so much about them is because of the way they died, all the information I can point to is again the case files:

Yuri Doroshenko brown Autopsy report March 4, 1959
Yuri Krivonischenko grey-green Autopsy report March 4, 1959
Igor Dyatlov grey Autopsy report March 4, 1959
Zinaida Kolmogorova light brown Autopsy report March 4, 1959
Rustem Slobodin grayish brown Autopsy report March 8, 1959
Lyudmila Dubinina eyes missing Autopsy report May 9, 1959
Semyon Zolotaryov eyes missing Autopsy report May 9, 1959
Aleksander Kolevatov no data Autopsy report May 9, 1959
Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle light green Autopsy report May 9, 1959


While the commemoration of the dead could easily go borderline tasteless (I am making a Warhol impression don't I?) image processing is not always innocent. At the 63 anniversary conference journalist Natalya Varsegova from Komsomolskaya Pravda showed what someone has made out of this scrap of film. The 3D model shows people around a fire, one of them carrying a gun.

See all the scraps of film we have from Zolotaryov's camera and note that these are very small fragments of the actual photo. You can scale by the procket holes visible on scans 2 and 6.

A protest against turning the Dyatlov Pass incident into a spectacle horror

Igor Dyatlov Warhol style
Igor Dyatlov halftone effect
Igor Dyatlov posterize effect
Igor Dyatlov wind effect
Igor Dyatlov posterize and dutone
Igor Dyatlov posterize effect
Igor Dyatlov creative crafts effect
Igor Dyatlov posterize and duotone


I am using image processing to protest against all the crazy theories that are sprouting just for the sake of feeding the fascination with unsolved mysteries. The hunger is good, I am infected myself, but for Pete's sake, theories like this are published for serious consideration. Have mercy on us all!

According to this theory they have aged decades during the trek.

Here is an example of the hundreds of YouTube videos that claim new information on the case: DYATLOV PASS. Anomalies of Time - DID THEY GET OLD?

The author of the video says that the hikers have aged in the photos from the trek, that they look 40-50 years old before they died. Only Zina remained unchanged, and Zolotaryov who was old to start with. Don't have enough photos of Kolevatov. The author explains the phenomenon with a time vortex (windrose?). Zina is talking on a smartphone. They were all on a special mission and selected each with its own powers. Tibo is levitating.

They were supposed to be 9 and some parameters converge into a special confluence that the group was supposed to be there because something was supposed to happen in the universe. We don't know the exact date because all the dates might be altered. The author is retelling the plot of the movie Dead Mountain 2020 as a real event literally - the shaman woman warned the group, Yudin was the only one to listen, he faked his illness and got back to safety while the rest continued with the mission. Zolotaryov also had special powers, remember they were all superheros. Igor was trained to find a special artifact that belonged to the Mansi goddess Zolotaya Baba (aka Sorni Nay). But then the author contradicts himself by saying that they had to be 9, a special number. Either Yudin bailed out or turned back because he was surplus. Doesn't make sense even in his universe.


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