Coloring black and white photos

     Software, like Photoshop, has come a long way; it is extremely useful for anything from digital art to graphic design. Recently, there has been a movement of people taking old photos, or just black and white photos, and "restoring" them. What you get as a result is something incredibly more real-- I understand that just because a black and white photo lacks color doesn't make it unreal; but, take a look at these and tell me they don't make the photo seem to come to life in a new way! This has lead me to pursue photography in a new potentially interesting way. By starting with a black and white photo and coloring it yourself, you can put a unique spin on your work. (Below is my very first attempt at this.) Not every photo warrants such a technique, but the truly unique photos like the one below, really take on a new element of interest. It is a really NEAT way of approaching photography.

This is not my photo, only the coloring.

This is not my photo, only the coloring.

Quick how-to

     Without going into a lot of detail, this is best approached like a painting, a water color painting to be more exact: from light to dark. Working on separate layers, you can build depth to the piece. I achieved this particular look by utilizing many different 'layers' in Photoshop. I started with a light skin color and brushed it over the entire skin area. Building color on to separate layers, I put a mixture of different skin tones (brown to pinkish) in places that made sense: your nose, ears, lips, and cheese tend to have a rosier color than other parts of the face. (This is just a style choice, of course, you can do whatever you want to with this kind of work.) I moved on to the clothing, again building the color in layers.
     The grey hair, eyes, and lighting required special care. The irises were fairly simple, due to their size, but I wanted to make the cataract look convincing which took a little more work-- again, just a build up of colors that make sense. Grey hair usually has remnants of colors-past in it, and since it is more on the white side, reflects the color of the light; same goes for the white of the eyes. I knew I wanted the light to be warm and from the left, as if this was the light's placement and gets cooler (more blue) as it moves right (most noticeable in the background itself). Objects reflect light, that's how we see after all, and a light source will effect objects with its color. As is the nature of lighting, the side closets to the light are brighter and drift into shadow and get cooler as it goes to shadow (compare the left and right sides of the face). 
     This is actually a fairly simple thing to do, but it can give you some really cool looks. I really didn't explain much on how to navigate this process in Photoshop. But if are familiar with how layers work, it is easy.; if you don't know how to use layers, I suggest YouTube. I only used one tool in this entire process: the brush tool, so it is fairly simplistic. Try it, at least once!