How obsessive artists colorize old photos

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, May 30, 2017
  • Photo colorization artists use a combination of research, physics, and technology to digitally reconstruct history's black and white record.

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    Artist links:
    Jordan Lloyd (@jordanjlloydhq):
    Mads Madsen (@Madsmadsench):
    Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2):
    Dana Keller (@HistoryInColor):
    Patty Allison (@imbuedwithhues):

    The Paper Time Machine:

    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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  • Vox
    Vox  2 years ago +686

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

    Jordan Lloyd (@jordanjlloydhq):
    Mads Madsen (@Madsmadsench):
    Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2):
    Dana Keller (@HistoryInColor):
    Patty Allison (@imbuedwithhues):

    The Paper Time Machine:

  • fgldnglbs
    fgldnglbs  an hour ago

    As for early, actual color photography, we have the Albert Kahn autochromes. They bring us closer to those days. However, I think the book, The Dawn of the Color Photograph by David Okuefuna and the BBC doc were never promoted stateside because there's little of American interest. For one thing, I was hoping for a team picture of the Athletics or Giants. Even from Europe, I was hoping for pictures of old Le Havre. Neither on the Musee de Albert Kahn website. Will have to settle for a convincing colorization.

  • Tab Blu
    Tab Blu  an hour ago

    Good and Bad. Black and White lets you know the age of the photos.

  • Phonic Tales
    Phonic Tales  yesterday

    Thats exactly the word I thought NORMAL it really is like there normal people when they colorize them

  • 79shavi
    79shavi  yesterday

    "It's a shitload of work" haha

  • Subhojit Dey
    Subhojit Dey  2 days ago

    soo fascinating

  • Amry Nazari
    Amry Nazari  2 days ago

    Would it be cool if the Wild West get colorized

  • FYRFOX198
    FYRFOX198  2 days ago


  • gastric creeb
    gastric creeb  5 days ago +1

    Marvellous. Black and white looks miserable. Colour makes you realise their world was beautiful

  • Ivan4es1
    Ivan4es1  6 days ago

    It Is Amazing Time Machine!)

  • M3A2uploads
    M3A2uploads  7 days ago

    "obsessive" that's not very nice

  • M3A2uploads
    M3A2uploads  7 days ago

    "obsessive" that's not very nice

  • bug person
    bug person  7 days ago

    For me, seeing the past in colours is really hard to imagine as most of the pictures are black and white. Knowing that these people who do this, well do this makes it more amazing and interesting. Colouring the photos make such a big difference

  • Elvis Cerda
    Elvis Cerda  7 days ago +1


  • 공원Sunny
    공원Sunny  7 days ago

    We actually do this in our Photoshop Subject, the only subject I'm interested to HAHAHAHA

  • Josh350
    Josh350  14 days ago

    So the colors might be wrong.

  • samuel gebru
    samuel gebru  14 days ago

    common spent a month for a result like that??? lol

  • samuel gebru
    samuel gebru  14 days ago

    Google where is the AI that colorize old videos? that should be the next big thing lol

  • El Bigotón del Conquistador!

    Life is colorful! Why can't pictures of it be the same? :)

  • Judy Garland
    Judy Garland  21 days ago

    it's weird seeing old photos colorised. it feels like the picture wasn't taken that much of a long time ago. it's like technicolour, you're distracted by the colours in the film and you automatically think it's a new film when in reality it could've been made in the 1960s. it's like we treat people back thenlike items on display but when we see them in colour, we think "they were normal people, living an ordinary life and they never knew they would be in history books. they were people, just living in more jolly times." i don't think i could handle living in the 1930s or 40s. Well yes, it sounds lovely but i would be too curious about the future that i would never get to see. it's sad to think most of these people are dead, but I'm so jealous they got to experience those times!