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.

    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

     (Jun 7, 2017)

    You can find more photos on the artists' pages. Check them out: Jordan Lloyd (@jordanjlloydhq): Madsen (@Madsmadsench): Amaral (@marinamaral2): Keller (@HistoryInColor): Allison (@imbuedwithhues): The Paper Time Machine:

  • ted kaczynski

     (Nov 25, 2018)

    and how do they colorize movies? not frame by frame i guess. massive computing power somehow.

  • Matthew Fritch

     (Nov 24, 2018)

    I'm not a big fan of Vox or it's politics, but I deeply appreciate this video and the people in it. Thanks Vox.

  • Truth

     (May 30, 2017)

    wow what an incredible topic, I'm so glad for this channel, the amount of effort, time and twlent it takes to restore these photos is astounding, it's kinda like time travelling, amazing what just adding color can do

  • Ammar Siddiqui

     (Feb 5, 2019)

    2 thousand likes but only two replies

  • кσσкιєѕ ™

     (Oct 26, 2018)

    Very twlented indeed

  • TheXpender

     (Sep 26, 2018)

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

  • Yatharth Wankhade

     (Feb 4, 2019)


  • DaaaahWhoosh

     (Jun 23, 2017)

    I've wondered how they did this, I always assumed it would be difficult but I never realized that it is, and people do it anyway. And I'm astounded by how it changes things; in museums I've seen color paintings of ordinary-looking people from centuries ago, but I never realized how much black-and-white photographs distance themselves from the present.

  • Landy A.

     (Dec 12, 2018)

    coloring a greyscale picture in photoshop is easy (I'm an artist so I know what I'm talking about). The difficulty comes from the color accuracy that needs to be faithful to the period of the photography.

  • Farrsharp

     (Jul 6, 2017)

    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 dist...

  • totallyfrozen

     (Nov 14, 2018)



     (Oct 11, 2018)

    why should It feel distant? our grandchildren won't and maybe that's for the better

  • ErykaSoleil

     (Jul 4, 2017)

    Oh, WOW. I did not expect the addition of color to make such a huge difference, but it really does make those photos seem like they happened yesterday, and not in some ancient time I've never quite been able to wrap my head around.

  • c hr

     (Jun 27, 2017)

    My dad was in ww2 and i asked him if he minded colorization of movies or photos from that era.he said why the hell not.we wernt living in black and white.he also said the atmosphere seemed more smoggy and smokey in those days though.

  • NotAnyone WorthRemembering

     (3 days ago)

    +Mr. Butterworth Lol electromagnetic radiation "polluting." That's like saying drinking water is poisonous.

  • Goldsword Animations

     (Nov 6, 2018)

    +Mista Butterworth Electromagnetic doesn't pollute. LIGHT IS ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATIONWe do still have smog tho

  • Luiz Souza

     (Apr 27, 2018)

    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.

  • Aisha sulayman Abukar

     (Jan 21, 2019)

    Luiz Souza l

  • AlchemistOfNirnroot

     (Jan 12, 2019)

    J.C. Maxwell developed coloured photography.

  • Ruby Neighbour

     (Oct 26, 2017)

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

  • conflict gamer

     (Jul 22, 2018)

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

  • Hawaa Sarwary

     (Feb 8, 2019)

    conflict gamer they have those

  • Diego De Jesús

     (Feb 2, 2019)