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


The critics are ridiculous. This is truly incredible

Author — Mina F


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

Author — TheXpender


-nice kind calming voice- YEAH IT'S A SHITLOAD OF WORK!

Author — Ruby Neighbour


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


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


I'm left dumbfounded... through these alterations you can really grasp that these things have actually happened idk how to explain it

Author — Irene _


Great work sir... You colorized 3 old photographs for my nephew in Texas, that he gifted me during his wedding ceremony. Two old pictures of my parents and my dad with his B17 bomber and crew circa 1942... These are the best gifts I have ever received. Thank you!

Author — Rooster Cogburn


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

Author — conflict gamer


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


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 _


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 — Keegan Carney


Suddenly past doesn't seem so long ago.

Author — ashish Enginr


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

Author — Onyx VII7


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


I think, for me at least, it's the fact that the colourization makes history feel a lot less old and the realization that these photos were captured in our world and not in a distant time. plus, we feel like we understand what the moment of that photo was like, what did WWII look like to a regular soldier or, what did the clothing styles look like in the 1800s, what colours were popular, what materials were used, etc. One feels connected with history. No longer does your grandparents story feel so distant.

Author — Farrsharp


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


I feel like this process would be particularly effective for WW1 remembrance. Since it was overshadowed by WW2 and written off as just a shitshow where soldiers were sent to be cut up by machine guns by incompetent generals, it is simply written off but looking at colourised photos really brings the whole conflict to life.

Author — Gabe Spiro


"Sounds simple, right?"


Author — Pixel Husky


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