The Colorizing Process in Photography

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Green and Pink Girl Colorized

 

Colorization of both still and motion pictures has been around for a long time. Early movies were often hand painted frame by frame to produce colorful artistic effects as can be seen in the pioneering cinematic work of George Méliès . Hollywood has digitally colorized numerous movies that were originally filmed in black and white since the 1970s and hand-coloring of still photos has been practiced

almost since the inception of photography.

 

George Melies 2

 

A 1902 Hand-Colored Frame from George Méliès’ Film "Le Voyage Dans la Lune." The Right Side of the Screen Allows

the Colorize Box in the Hue/Saturation Panel Apply the Current Foreground Color to the Selected Area

 

Figure 3

 An Adjustment Layer has been Created with a Layer Mask. The White Area Reveals the Hue/Saturation

Adjustment and the Black Area Masks the Area Around the Bottle

 

figure 4 18

 The Face is Selected and a New Hue/Saturation Adjustment is Made Applying Flesh Tones

 

Lips Colorized

The Lips are Colored Red on a New Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

 

Figure 9 Lips and Eyes

The Color of the Lips is Applied with White and a Low Opacity Brush on the Layer Mask to Create

a Subtle Rosy complexion on the Face. The Eyes are Masked from the Adjustment so the Whites Appear Neutral.

The Pupil is Colorized on a Separate Adjustment Layer

 

Back in the day, years before the invention of color film, it was a common practice to hand tint photos in an attempt to create more realistic images. The first examples of hand-colored daguerreotypes were made by the Swiss painter and printmaker Johann Baptist Isenring, who used a mixture of gum arabic and pigments to color daguerreotypes shortly after their invention in 1839.

 

Samurai 1881

Japanese Samurai (1881)

 

Tower Bridge in Construction in London 1889

Tower Of London Under Construction (1889)

 

Beach Day 1900 1910

Beach Day (circa 1899)

 

Lunch Time 1908

Lunch Day (1908)

 

Colored powder was fixed on the delicate surface of the daguerreotype by the application of heat. Later, hand-coloring was used with other types of photographs like albumen and gelatin silver prints. Though hand-coloring was invented in Europe, the technique gained considerable popularity in Japan, where the practice became a respected and refined art form beginning in the 1860s.

 

Romanov Sister 1910

Russian Romanov Sisters (1910)

 

Harry Houdini about to perform a stunt NYC 1912 

Harry Houdine About to Perform a Stunt in NY (1912)

 

Antarctica 1911

Antarctica (1912)

 

Heat Wave NYC 1912

Heat Wave New York City (1912)

 

Post Officers Model their new Aiutopeds Scooters 1917

Post Officers Model Their New Autopad Scooters (1917)

 

Delivering Ice 1918

Delivering Ice in New York City (1918)

 

The “golden age” of hand-coloring was between 1900 and 1940 when it was quite fashionable to give hand-colored portraits as gifts for special occasions. By the early 1950s, the introduction of color film had dramatically decreased the demand for hand-colored photos and their popularity rapidly declined. Happily, the digital coloring process has seen a revival of the art of hand coloring due to the great potential it affords.

 

Claude Monet 1923 

 Claude Monet (1923)

 

British Tattoo artist George Burchett 1930

British Tattoo Artist George Burchett (1930)

 

Older Gent during Great Deprassion 1930s

Older Gentleman During the Depression (1930's)

 

One Whee Motorcycle 1931 1

One Whee Motocycle (1931)

 

Civil War Veterans 1935

Civil War Veterans (1935) 

 

Times Square NYC 1935

Times Square NYC (1935)

 

Hoover Dam Under Construction 1935 1 1

Hoover Dam Construction (1935)

 

Construction of Golden Gate Bridge 1935

Golden Gate Bridge Under Construction, San Francisco (1935)

 

Manhattan Sunser 1936

Manhattan Sunset (1936) 

 

Flipping Burgers 1938

Flipping Burgers (1938) 

 

Dr Pepper 1939

 Selling Dr. Pepper (1939)

 

Photographers on the Front Lines of the Great Wars:

In 1914, as the outbreak of World War I brought mass slaughter to Europe’s battlefields, photojournalism evolved rapidly in the muddy trenches, where 19th century tactics met 20th century weapons. Machine guns, airplanes, tanks, flamethrowers, poisonous gas and submarines were widely used for the first time against doomed troops that were sent by their generals into frontal attacks that left millions dead.

 

Boxing Match aboard USS New York 1938

Boxing Match Aboard the USS New York (1938)

 

Russian Prisoner of War 1940

Russian Prisoner of War (1940)

During war time, questions about whether a photographer’s role was to illustrate reporting or to tell a visual story that could stand without words, and to what extent staging photographs was acceptable, were all being addressed for the first time.

 

Metal Workers 1940

Metal Works (1940)

 

Adolf Hitler Declaring War to USA 1941

Adolf Hitler Declaring War to the United States (1941)

 

Painting Propaganda 1942

Painting Propaganda in the United States (1941)

 

US Army C 47 flying Over Giza Pyramids Egypt 1943

US Army C 47 Flying Over Giza, Egypt (1943)

 

Elizabeth II 1944

Elizabeth II (1944)

 

Operation Overlord 1944

Operation Overlord was the Code Name for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied Operation that Launched the Successful Invasion of German-Occupied Western Europe (1944)

 

American Soldier in Versalles 1944

An American Soldier in Versalles, France (1944)

 

Sikh Wehrmacht Volunteers WWII

Sikh Whermacht Volunteers During World War II

 

Easy Company Celebrates V E Day in Hitlers residence Alps 1945

Easy Company Celebrating E V Day at Hitler's Alps Residence (1945)

 

Independent photographers were kept far from the front lines, creating a problem for newspapers whose circulation depended on having pictures to illustrate dispatches from the war.

 

boy watching TV for the first time 1948

Boy Watching Television for the First Time (1948) 

 

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 1953

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)

 

John F Kennedy 1961

 President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office (1961)

 

LBJ meets MLK in Oval Office 1964

President Lindon B. Johnson Meeting with Dr Martin Luther King (1964) 

  

History in Color - COFL Photography from Community of Lights on Vimeo.