Adding colour to historical photos

It’s fascinating the difference it makes when colour’s added to old photos. In many cases it takes away the impression that the images were captured in another time, and this Vox video (below) gives a great insight into the colourisation process.

“Photo colourisation isn’t just colouring within the lines — it requires meticulous research to make sure that every detail is historically accurate. The colour 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 colours right.”

German panther tank, Normandy, 1944Three French boys looking at a knocked-out German panther tank, Normandy, 1944.

German panther tank, Normandy, 1944Coloured by Marina Amaral.

Tower Bridge construction, 1889Tower Bridge construction, London, 1889.

Tower Bridge construction, 1889Colorised by Dynamic Chrome.

David Attenborough, c1950-51David Attenborough, c1950-51.

David Attenborough, c1950-51Coloured by Mads Madsen.

Plenty more on Reddit’s Colorized History.

One of the commentators on this Photoshop tutorial (below) talked of adding colour to a photo of his great grandfather, to give it to his grandmother. Brilliant gift idea.

Vox video (top) via Paul Wilsdon.

3 responses

  1. I didn’t realize how much color can have an impact on a visual image, until I started seeing all of these photos spread throughout the internet like wildfire. I love this trend. For some odd reason, it adds a sense of realism and intimacy to the photograph. Amazing.

  2. I enjoy colorized photos and have contemplated trying it on family photos for Christmas gifts. However, I know some people hate the trend on the basis that it alters the past (slightly ironic). My response is that so long as they are not supposed to act as a replacement for original photos, there is no problem.

    Have you heard of this/have thoughts on this, David?

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