What happens when you take a photo, rip away its color and fill in the chromatic gaps with paint (or Photoshop)? You can create vintage-style, hand-colored photos. And sometimes you can barely even tell the new coloring isn't real.

WINNER - Parrot Paint

This is actually taken with my old film camera, a Minolta SRT-101 with a 35mm lens. I used Ilford HP5 400 ISO b/w film, at ISO 400, shutter speed probably around 1/125...(not sure, no EXIF data, of course.)

I saw this shooting challenge and was delighted, since I learned how to hand-color in my high school photography class. I went out into my neighborhood with my film camera (a Minolta SRT-101) in hand, wanting to actually hand color a photo. This is at a popular tourist spot in my area, the Santa Monica pier. There was a man with these parrots in front of the carousel building and I had to photograph them. I developed the film, printed on RC fiber paper, and sepia-toned the print. Then I went in with a paintbrush and water-based paints and really handcolored this! Now, I don't remember what colors the parrots actually were...To submit, I just scanned it in with my sadly not-high-enough-quality scanner.
-Arielle Maxner

The Kayak

Tintype of a Kayak that's hanging up in my house. I rate the sensitized plate at ISO 1.5 (yes one-point-five) and usually my exposures are anywhere between 4-10 seconds. I've recently outfitted my Jeep as a darkroom so that I can take the show on the road! Enjoy. Camera: Kodak 2-D View Camera, Lens: 210mm @ f/5.6 ISO: 1.5
-Matt McDaniel

Mirror Finish

Here's the exciting story: I was sitting at my desk reading about this week's contest, glanced to my left, and saw my soda from lunch. It was shiny. I busted out my trusty iPhone 4 and took a picture of the can and used the colorizing method from photoshopsupport.com. Besides the logo and lettering, I left the can completely alone in B&W and it actually made it look more vibrant than it was in original color (due to reflections). I added a bit of glow and that was that.
-Jester Meister

Grasping At Straws

First attempt was a nightmare. Using the paint tool in Gimp, stroking up and down endlessly, UNDO, REDO, UNDO. I avoided the masking because I felt that it was cheating. I wanted that little imperfection. I overlapped the picture and proceeded to start all over again. This time with different colors for the straws (may have broken a rule there, but YOU said get creative). Then another hour passes and I'm literally "grasping at the straws". Enjoy Canon Rebel XSI, ISO100, f/5.6, 2.5sec, 55mm.
-Tim Drivas

Sir Kittens Is No Name for a Goose

Story: I went on a jog this morning on a trail. I got lost on the trail and ended up near some government building which happened to have this little pond area. I ended up making friends with the local geese population there while resting and took a few photos off my phone. Surprisingly, they posed for my shots. I even got to isolate a few geese to take their photos. I named this particular goose, Sir Kittens. He attacked me at first but I don't know what changed his mind to get friendly with me. It was an interesting day. Equipment Used: HTC Thunderbolt 8MP Camera, Photo Shop CS5,
-Cassandra Stapleton


This shot was taken as I walked to campus to pick up my wife from work. I particularly enjoyed this exercise. It was hand painted in the Gimp using only a mouse. I used the paintbrush, eraser and smudge tools. No other fancy filters other than dialing down the saturation and boosting contrast were used. Around 80% of the photo was painted. I've walked these stairs many times, but new buildings are to pop up soon, and the tennis courts it leads to will be removed. It was shot with a Nikon Coolpix P7000, f/2.8, ISO100, Exposure 1/672sec.
-Weldon Sams

Technicolor Dream Braces

This picture was taken with a Nikon D5000 camera, a Nikon DX 18-55 mm lens, and ISO setting of 200. My daughter just got her braces this week. She was not happy about them, but this was a fun way to show them off. Braces may not be fun, but we can still have fun with them!
-Chris Reece


After riding around town on my bike trying to find proper shots to try out hand-coloring, and I came home less than thrilled with my results. When I got home, one of my cats, Sven, was stretched out on the floor to make himself as adorable and pettable as possible. And then I realized that I needed more macro shots of the tubbaliciously adorable Sven in my life. I got down on the floor with him and started shooting. He quickly became tired of the strange attention and let me know with a perfectly dismissive yawn. I got this shot and scratched him under the chin in thanks.
Nikon D5000, 18-55 kit lens, ISO 400
-Jessica McCormick

Desert Oasis

So when I read this week's challenge, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it since I do not have Photoshop nor have any idea of how to use it. After pondering it a little more, I decided I would try it by hand. I took a shot of a building near my office and printed out my photo on resume-style paper. Then I used watercolors and painted in some of colors and scanned the painted photo. It's not great, but it kind of looks "old timey." I think it looks like a desert oasis shot from an old movie. Hope you like it! Canon EOS REBEL T1i, EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens, f/9, 1/160, ISO 100
-Matthew Johnson

Black Chair, Blue Wall

For this challenge I tried to keep it simple to give a better effect, I used my Canon XSi with 50mm1.4 lens to take a picture of the corner of my living room. Desaturated the photo then simply painted by numbers, with colors similar to what is actually in my living room. I used mostly the lasso selection tool to select areas and used the brush tool on color to 'paint by numbers'.
-Seth Porter

Green Flutter

As a difficult child in Mrs. Sherlock's 4th grade class at Herndon Elementary School (circa 1979), I was assigned a report on John James Audobon. Being the ADHD individual that I was at the time, I got sidetracked reading Audobon's Birds of America, while researching the man, by the images and information on the varied species of our aviary friends, particularly the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Needless to say my report was not well received when the majority was about hummingbirds and maybe a paragraph or two was about Mr. Audobon. For years I wished to see this mythical (to me) creature for real. Finally, a few months ago, I caught my first glimpse after my girlfriend installed a Hummingbird feeder in her back yard. I have photographed them on several occasions and decided that the amazing little creature would be ideal subject matter for this challenge. I probably shot about 80 pics but settled on this one for the location of the bird on the right bringing a sort of balance with the vegetation around the fence. I have included the original photo as well as the large and small colorized versions. Sony SLT-A33 w/ a Minolta 70-210 F4.5-5.6 Lens, Max Aperture F5.6, ISO 320, Colored by layering the elements and adjusting the curves in Photoshop.
-Mark Thoresen

Beer Castle

Lovely evening down by the old brewhouse. This is where Olympia Beer used to be made, before they made it in the other, not-quite-as-old brewhouse in Olympia, Washington. It has been abandoned and shuttered for many years now. Taken with a tripod-mounted Canon 60D, 1/15th second exposure at ISO 100. 55mm focal length. Colored in Photoshop version 7.0
-Brian Hall

The Pink House

I must admit this challenge brought me back to the good ol' days of elementary school coloring. And as with the jumbo coloring books from my past, staying inside the lines is a must! It didn't help that I used a laptop with a track-pad to select the objects to color. I used my own home as the subject for this photo challenge. I chose pink for the house color to give it a 50's/60's vintage look. It's so funny to compare this colored version with the real thing. Its amazing how a little color can make such a difference. I imagine when my house was first built it must have looked somewhat like this. Maybe I'll paint the house back this way. I'm sure the neighbors will love me for it! Nikon D3100 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G lens, ISO 1600, F/11
-Fernando Fernandez

Broken Buddhas

I was traveling in southeast Sri Lanka when we came across a small collection of broken buddhas just outside the Tissa Maha Dagoba — at 3rd century BC buddhist stupa. Apparently, if you receive a buddha statue from a place of worship and it is later damaged, you are supposed to place the damaged statue back near the site (or under a tree). This tradition caused the stupa to have an odd collection of broken buddhas just outside the proper temple. I photographed them with pretty standard settings (iso 100, 38mm, f5, on a Nikon d3000s), and hand-colored the image using a combo of the techniques listed in the contest (masking and painting/erasing). I also added some noise to make the image look more period specific.
-Cody Pope

Crayola Birds

I took several pictures of blue jays eating goldfish in my backyard using a remote trigger android app and my laptop plugged into my canon eos rebel T2i. Then I took the images and cut out each bird with a feathered selection and put them on one taken with no birds. Then I saved that image and 2 other variations of the image with -2 exposure and +2 exposure adjustment layers in photoshop. Then I used the HDR merge pro automation in photoshop and cranked the vibrancy to hell. Then I desaturated it and hand-colored the birds and set the layer to soft light. I used the original birds picture that I made before i pseudo HDR'd it and messed with it until I could use it for it's color information without adding too much detail. I set that layer to darken and tossed a warm photo filter on it to call it a day. All in all, I'm pretty sure that there weren't really more than 2 different birds the whole time but the process was fun and I feel good about the picture, and in the end, isn't that what it's all about? This is like the 4th day I've had my first dslr. I was so happy when I got it that I called my mom to tell her that I could enter gizmodo shooting challenges now. She didn't know or care but I was very excited. Beats the crap out of my casio exilim 8.1MP ^.^ Settings: f/6.3, 1/50 sec., ISO-400
-Anthony Stabile


There weren't a ton of entries this week, but boy was this one tough to judge. 'Mirror Finish' and 'Tubbalicious' both illustrate how much data our eyes/brains process simply through tonal range (the black to white gradient of a photo) unrelated to color at all, and just how versatile this technique could be in photos that you don't even look vintage. Find the wallpapers on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.