Photographs of the French in Tonkin

It’s been a while since my last post.  Probably because of my excessive browsing on the Galica archives.  I recently found there is more to their image archive than meets the eye.  My previous searches on the image server returned several very interesting photo albums with old pictures from various French Colonial adventures such as Tonkin, Algeria, the Sahara as well as several on World War I.  These were nice and somewhat interesting but I thought most of the photos were just too small to look at and skipped over most of the pages (especially when those with several small photographs affixed to one album page instead of just one good resolution picture–see this WWI album as an example).  Last week I noticed that I apparently overlooked the “zoom” option that allows viewers to really magnify some of the smaller photographs.  I found it was simple to get in really close and manually “crop” the view I wanted.  I then figured out how to cut and paste the cropped portions of the photographs into Adobe Photoshop Elements.  In this program I then applied the Auto-Fix, Sharpen and the Color Fix tools.  These steps really brought the photos to life!  The first two pictures below came from an album on Tonkin that was compiled by General Mangin early in his career (about 1900-1904).  Mangin in fact has several photo albums for view on Galica .  He seems to be like the Forrest Gump of the French Army, seemingly everywhere.  He served in Tonkin, Senegal, participated in the Faschoda Incident and rose to be an Army commander in WWI.  The yellowish photo is how the original looked on Galica and the second picture shows what some Photoshop magic can do.  This picture depicts the Foreign Legion marching through the village of Lao Kay (NW of Hanoi, close to the Chinese border).  The rest of the pictures I assembled into a .pdf document and are from Mangin’s albums, an album of photographs taken by Dr. Hocquard (a doctor and amateur photographer assigned to the Legion), and one from an French Army Map Making/Terrain team.

Tonkin Photos

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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