Generally speaking, one should let the past stand for itself, shouldn’t one? Just let old photos be in their sepia colors instead of trying to bring things forward? Actually, no. You should keep the old photos in their boxes, albums, and books; but you should also – for the sake of genealogy – enhance, sharpen, fix creases and colorize them. What you’re really doing is to show respect to the people in the photos by trying to bring them as close to life as possible. At least that’s my opinion. You’re entitled to yours.
The process goes as follows. First you scan the photo (obviously). You scan to .raw or .tiff – not to .jpg. Then you use a decent photo editing program to alter light, shadow, contrast and remove creases and shadows. Do not use tools like one-click fixing, but take your time. Remember to save a copy each time you alter the photo, remember photo layers and clone brushes. And then, colorize!
A lot of cheap tools exist to automatically colorize. There is plugins and addons to Photoshop, PSP, Elements. There is programs and webpages that helps out. And there is a lot of totally laughable results. I like them all 🙂
I have used several weeks slowly altering pixels on a picture of my mother, only to find the same photo already in color in a box. And I have uploaded a couple of photos to a webpage, and had my results 10 seconds later. It’s all a question of priority.
The all-in-one sites and programs give a lot of nice and quick results, but really have problems with light and shadows on clothes – the same suit is brown there and blue elsewhere, and similar problems with facial skin, which changes from gray to yellow.
The hand-colored ones take all your time, and you’re never satisfied anyway 🙂
Included is a couple of quick ones. The handcolored ones are…not quite finished 🙂