How obsessive artists colorize old photos

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How obsessive artists colorize old photos 5
Photo colorization artists use a combination of research, physics, and technology to digitally reconstruct history's black and white record.

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Photo colorization isn’t just coloring within the lines — it requires meticulous research to make sure that every detail is historically accurate. The color of military uniforms, signs, vehicles, and world fashion spanning decades needs to be accounted for before even opening digital software like Photoshop. That means digging through sources like diaries, government records, old advertisements, and even consulting historical experts to get the colors right.

But even after the arduous research, restoration, and blending of color, the image still isn’t finished. In order to achieve true photorealism, the physics of how light works in the atmosphere needs to be taken into account. Colors look different depending on the lighting conditions when the photo was taken, so artists rely on shadows and the location of light to make an educated guess about the time of day in a black-and-white photo.

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You can find more photos on the artists' pages. Check them out:

Author — Vox


Vox - the buzzfeed that's actually good.

Author — Wobin


1:12 But adding color to black and white photos isn't *n-*

Author — TheXpender


I feel like they should start showing colored historical photos in schools. Just watching how the colors came gave it life in my opinion, it made me actually feel these were actual people, (they were of course but you know what I mean) not some history page. It might insight people to care more about the past to see them as someone who you could pass by on the street, and even be friends with.

Author — Chubby Heart


I'd like them to see re-color a old moive

Author — conflict gamer


Suddenly past doesn't seem so long ago.

Author — ashish Enginr


This is incredible. I really love the transitions from monochrome to colour. It definitely brings in more life and character to these moments. Its pretty breathtaking.

Author — jtiss _


Don't see the point of them being untouched. Why? Cause it's all digital, the original is preserved!! Stupid argument imo

Author — The Sexy Skywalker


Criticizing something like this is so stupid. There's nothing special about black-and-white pictures. They're just black-and-white because we hadn't figured out a way to take color ones. So making them color is not only cool, but it's also about making them timeless.

Author — Luiz Souza


If it really bothers you that much that somebody is colorizing a picture, just hang the black and white version on your wall and then sit on your thumb.

Author — K Arney


_Sounds simple right?_
*"Yeah, it's a **_shitload_** of work."*

Author — お腹が空きました


What I'd give to have a colored photo of my grandfather. My grandfather passed in 1957 when my mother was only 6 months and I really think this would be an amazing gift for my mother.

Author — Karma


Wow! The colorization really makes those time periods look more relatable. Incredible.

Author — Onyx VII7


A picture taken in 1912 looks like it was taken in the 1980's it's insane!

Author — CoolGuyWithAHat01


They should definitely be colorized. The people who took the photos did so out of necessity, and would have used color photography if the tech existed, rather than those tedious contemporary methods to add it afterwards.

It reminds me of the recent discoveries about Greek and Roman marble sculptures being colored to reflect life. We've always striven for realism in our art, and color is essential to that.

Author — Sword of Tauberg


The critics are ridiculous. This is truly incredible

Author — Mina F


I too am a colourization artist and a programmer!!! These people are doing great work!

Author — LT. SLEEPER


I'm an old photographer with an art history and history background. The colorizations in this video are phenomenally good. "Spent a month" on one image? That image will never become stale. The people in those images now have the option of appearing more alive. Altered? Sure. But the originals still exist, nothing is lost.
The complaints against this process are exactly the same as were those against colorizing old movies 25 years ago. The process of colorizing old movies was similar to what these artists are doing. Step one: make the best cleanest duplicate of the original film. Step Two: colorize. Colorized movies made then were a bit cheezy, often just a few colors. People who didn't know liked them, initially they seemed neat, but in about twenty minutes the low quality colorizing was awful. The real benefit of that process was Step One: restoration of the best possible closest to the original copy. I've seen a lot of old movies, really good prints are rare, often classic movies survived in multiple generation copies of terrible quality. (One example was Carl Dreyer's Joan of Arc with Danish subtitles--that's the only way we could see that movie.) What's really good about this otherwise cheezy colorizing was that technical problems like shutter stutter, the usually very subtle up and down vibration in many films, can be fixed when making the digital copy.
With these still images the more research these artists do as they colorize old photos the better the result, and the greater the contribution. What would be helpful would be footnotes, these colors are accurate because of these sources.... these colors are best guess.... What I really appreciated was how going from black and white to color the people in the photos became more-- not so much real--as recognizably like me and people I see everyday; exactly as they once had been. It does what history should always do, make it live again. What no one says about the digital world is that until the advent of digital capture, the colors available in different media were very limited. TV and film were connected to dyes and phosphors. I used to photograph art, oil paintings cannot be accurately reproduced with film. Oil paints included colors that were not recordable. Film was like watercolor. Reproduction was usually magazine 4 color. Most experienced photographers feel a bit sick looking at magazines, all we can see is all the colors that are not there.

Author — WillN2Go1


I’ve colorized some photos myself, and being honest, the hardest part wasn’t the colorizing itself, but it was finding the accurate colors for stuff.

Author — Filipeczeg


People are so weird. They always try find something to be complained about.

-The original photo is preserved because this is digital.
-You said that it ruins the historical value of it. What historical value black and white photos supposed to serve? That it's old?
-Don't be a negative nanny. Sure it might change people's prespective, but see the other side of the coin. People can appreciate past. Colors and culture can be learned. The feeling of connection is gained.

Why are you so afraid of change? You can't stop change. You can either walk with it or being crushed by it. Your choice.

Author — Andina Rizkia