Coloring Historical Photographs - June 11th Edition

Following up on the B-17 image that I posted yesterday, here's a quick animation that illustrates how I added successive layers of color to create the finished image.

FYI - a few layers were combined to make the animation a little shorter, and the images in the video are not necessarily in the order that I colored them. I created a series of images based on the layers that I had created, but I did so after I had finished the image.

Coloring Historical Photographs - June 10th Edition

I found another interesting photo in an aviation forum that looked like a good candidate for colorizing, in this case it was the crew of the "Hell's Angel's" B-17 adding the numbers for their latest bombing mission. (Which looks to be just shy of 40 missions.)


You can read more about this B-17 at:

By the way, for those who've never seen it before, Jimmy Stewart helped create an Air Force Training/Recruitment film in 1942, wherein he describes the duties and responsibilities of a B-17 crew. (Although if you know your B-17 history, you can tell that the video is of a very early version of the aircraft, and not the version that saw most of the combat during the war. Can anyone else point out the most-important differences?)

PS - Despite having created this film, during the war Jimmy Stewart flew B-24s.

Winking smile

Coloring Historical Photographs - June 3rd Edition

I found another interesting photo in an aviation forum that looked like a good candidate for colorizing, and here's the "Before and After" views. I can't imagine how cold it was in these WWII airplanes, but the scarf, gloves, leather boots and fleece lining that the pilot is wearing would seem to suggest that it was pretty cold. It's because of sacrifices from guys like this that we still have England.


After a bit of research, it appears that was a photo of Adolph Gysbert Malan, and you can read more about him here: Sailor Malan: a Battle of Britain Pilot.

Coloring Historical Photographs - May 29th Edition

I found another image on an aviation forum, that I thought might be fun to colorize. To be honest, I did it rather quickly, so there are less layers than I had been using for some of the other images that I had done.


Some time later, I discovered that this was an image from LIFE magazine of Major Wallace Frank, which was dated September, 1948. (That was kind of a surprise; I would have thought that it was from a decade later.)

Even though I found this image on an aviation forum, while I was researching the image to see who was in it, I found it's information at:

Coloring Historical Photographs - May 16th Edition

I found another interesting photo in an aviation forum, and I thought that I'd take a quick pass at colorizing it. It's a WWII Navy pilot standing on the wing of a Grumman Hellcat F6F, and despite some trying - I couldn't find out who he is.


The colorization isn't perfect, of course, but I think it adds a bit of depth to the story. There is something obvious that I got wrong, though: the undercarriage of the Hellcat should have been colored gray.

Of course, I could go back and fix that now, but… meh. Not today.

Coloring Historical Photographs - April 7th Edition

Someone posted the following photo of three WWII GIs to a Veteran's forum, and I thought it would make a good candidate for another attempt at coloring a historical photograph. I did a little bit of research about the uniforms, thankfully there are a lot of examples around.


I have no idea who these guys were, or what time in the war this was from; they look like three guys on leave enjoying life, though.

That's it for today.

Coloring Historical Photographs - First Attempt

I hang out in a few history-related forums, and I see a lot of great photos posted. Periodically, I see photos that someone has colorized, and I have occasionally thought, "I wonder how hard that is?" With that in mind, I saw a photo today that I thought seemed like it would be a great place to get started. Here is the before and after… it's not too bad for a first effort. There are a few historical inaccuracies that I learned about after the fact; for example: the buttons and belt buckle both should have been silver, not brass. (I obviously have room to improve.)

Pilot-Officer-James-Robbinson- Before-and-After

Colorizing that image was quickly followed by colorizing another image, which turned out okay, but I didn't have much to work with; the resolution of the source image wasn't that great. I did some research to get the colors right for the airplane and uniform, so I was trying to learn from my mistakes.


So there you have it - my first two attempts at coloring historical images. I obviously have lots of room to grow.

The Windmills of La Mancha

Here is an HDR shot which I took of the windmills in La Mancha, Spain...


However, this photo does not do justice to the actual spectacle, nor does it capture the rain and hail which were pelting me as I took the photo. With that in mind, I felt a little more in tune with Don Quixote as I was chasing the impossible amidst an onslaught of oppressive circumstances...

Surprised smile

Fixing Underwater Videos with FFMPEG

I ran into an interesting predicament: I couldn't get the right color adjustment settings to work in my video editor to correct some underwater videos from a scuba diving trip. After much trial and error, I came up with an alternative method: I have been able to successfully edit underwater photos to restore their color, so I used FFMPEG to export all of the frames from the source video as individual images, then I used a script to automate my photo editor to batch process all of the images, then I used FFMPEG to reassemble the finished results into a new MP4 file.

The following video of a Goliath Triggerfish in Bora Bora shows a before and after of what that looks like. Overall, I think the results are promising, albeit via a weird and somewhat time-consuming hack.

Exporting Videos as Images with FFMPEG

Here is the basic syntax for automating FFMPEG to export the individual frames:

ffmpeg.exe -i "input.mp4" -r 60 -s hd1080 "C:\path\%6d.png"

Where the following items are defined:

-i "input.mp4" specifies the source MP4 file
-r 60 specifies the frame rate for the video at 60fps
-s hd1080 specifies 1920x1080 resolution (there are others)
"C:\path\%6d.png" specifies the directory for storing the images, and specifies PNG images with file names which are numerically sequenced with a width of 6 digits (e.g. 000000.png to 999999.png)

Combining Images as a Video with FFMPEG

Here is the basic syntax for automating FFMPEG to combine the individual frames back into an MP4 file:

ffmpeg.exe -framerate 60 -i "C:\path\%6d.png" -c:v libx264 -f mp4 -pix_fmt yuv420p "output.mp4"

Where the following items are defined:

-framerate 60 specifies the frame rate for the output video at 60fps (note that specifying a different framerate than you used for exporting could be used to alter the playback speed of the final video)
-i "C:\path\%6d.png" specifies the directory where the images are stored, and specifies PNG images with file names which are numerically sequenced with a width of 6 digits (e.g. 000000.png to 999999.png)
-c:v libx264 specifies the H.264 codec
-f mp4 specifies an MP4 file
-pix_fmt yuv420p specifies the pixel format, which could also specify "rgb24" instead of "yuv420p"
"output.mp4" specifies the final MP4 file

How to Add the Nik Collection to Corel's PaintShop Pro

Following Google's acquisition of Nik Software, Google has decided to make it's suite of plugins available for free. With that in mind, I thought that I  would post a simple "How-To" guide for using the Nik plugins for anyone who is using Corel's PaintShop Pro instead of Adobe's hideously-priced Photoshop software. (Note that Photoshop is really cool, of course - it's just priced and/or licensed badly.)

In any event, here are the steps to use the Nik Collection plugins with Corel's PaintShop Pro on a Windows computer:

  1. Download the Nik Collection from
  2. Install the collection into the default folder; this should be something like the following path:

    "%ProgramFiles%\Google\Nik Collection"

  3. Open a Windows command prompt
  4. Change directory to the plugins folder for the version of PaintShop which you have installed; for example:

    cd /d "%ProgramFiles%\Corel\Corel PaintShop Pro X8 (64-bit)\PlugIns\EN"

  5. Create a directory junction to the Nik Collection:

    mklink /j "Nik Collection" "%ProgramFiles%\Google\Nik Collection"

  6. When you next open PaintShop, the Nik Collection will show up under Effects->Plugins:


That's all it takes. Have fun!