Photo Colorization – Adding Color to Black and White Photographs

Photo Colorization – Adding Color to Black and White Photographs

I found a new hobby last night at around 10:30 p.m. I was up until 1:40 a.m. That’s just how I am…

Have you seen these photographs – Realistically Colored Historical Photographs? I saw them a few times being passed around on Facebook, and they keep popping up. Every time I click on the link and am amazed at what I see. Adding color to old black and white photographs is magical to me. There is some controversy as critics say it’s not ‘real’ or it’s changing the past. But I think it is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I love black and white photography. I often make my colored photos black and white to add that certain emotional effect that a black and white image has.

The fact is that color photography wasn’t widely available back then. And adding color completely changes the way I see history. It’s short-sighted, but whenever I think of history before the spread of color photography, I think of it in black and white. It’s almost as if my mind doesn’t believe there was color back then. Crazy, right?! But in all seriousness, when I see these old photographs with color – it makes the past seem more real. Does that make sense?


So being the typical person I am – I googled ‘how to colorize black and white photographs.’ After a few video tutorials, I was well on my way into colorizing my first photograph. I picked this one of two boys after searching for ‘Depression Era Photographs” in Google. I made sure the size of the image was large enough using the advanced search tools. And then I just played.

It took me a while to get used to the Bamboo Wacom tablet that I rarely use. I learned some new Photoshop shortcuts. And I learned that you really have to be patient to do this colorization. Now obviously my first photograph isn’t perfect. Looking at it now I think many of the colors are too saturated or the hue is a tad off. But at a quick glance, it looks pretty neat. I’m going to continue practicing. One thing I didn’t spend time doing was blending colors. Because our skin and clothes and environments have millions of colors, to make a colorization look rear you need to add many different shades to it. So on my next one, that’s what I’ll be practicing. For now, enjoy!

If I get really good at this, I just might turn it into a course – good idea?


Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech – Colorization – July 4, 1939

Here’s another one that I did this past weekend. I tried to add some more colors to Lou’s face to make it more realistic. I even used another picture of Angel Mike Trout with the sky in the background to get a realistic sky-blue.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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