What Colour Was Your Great-grandmother's Hair?

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Wed, 02 June 2010 12:33
Heather Quick (Photoshop begginer)
I've just made another Photoshop video. This one is about colour
tinting (or "colorizing") an old photo. You may not know this, but
back in the 1800's - long before colour photography was invented -
people used to hand-tint black and white photographs with coloured
inks or water-colour paints, and I wanted to achieve that type of
effect. Tinting monochrome prints using Photoshop is considerably less
The photo I decided to use was a recently restored photo of my
maternal great-grandmother (my mother's, mother's, mother). It was
taken sometime in the late 1880's when she probably in her late teens.
It's a typical Victorian studio portrait: Great-grandma is wearing her
best dress, is standing against a painted background of a garden, and
has one hand resting on a rustic looking chair.
The only thing I knew for certain was that Great-grandma had blue
eyes, every other colour was a conjecture. Her dress was a dark
colour, and after experimenting with a few different colours, I
decided that navy blue looked best. I coloured in the background light
green - although it could have been cyan. The bamboo chair was
obviously a bamboo colour. That just left the colour of her hair to
try and figure out.
My maternal grandmother had strawberry-blonde hair in her younger days
(I've seen colour photos of her when she was young) but when I tried
to colour her mother's hair that colour, it just didn't look right.
Too light. Auburn? No, that didn't look right either. I asked my
mother, but she had no idea. Great-grandma was a white-haired old lady
by the time my mother came along.
The only thing I could do was just to play about with the colour
sliders until her hair looked "right". That's when I made a profound
discovery: my great-grandmother's hair was brown - like mine! It was
the only colour that looked natural.
My great-grandmother and I never met, but thanks to Photoshop, I now
have a better idea of what she looked like than would have been
possible just from a black and white photo.
I've posted her picture on my webpage.

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