How You Can Take Color Photos on Black and White Film

Black and white film is, well, black and white. But using the same principles that a digital sensor uses, you can create color images from black and white film, and this fun tutorial will show you how it is done.

Coming to you from Jacob Carlson, this great video will show you the process of creating a color image from black and white film. The process relies on the same general principle that creates color digital images: combining luminance data from red, green, and blue "channels" to create a full-color photo. To create the individual channels, you simply place red, green, and blue filters over your lens and take a frame of each. You then align and combine the three individual frames in Photoshop to create the final color image. 

Of course, since you will be taking three separate images and changing filters in between, you will need both a still subject and a tripod to keep your camera from moving. And while there really is not much practical application to this, it is a very neat way to have a little fun with science. Check out the video above, where Carlson also provides some helpful tips to make your results the best they can be. 

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5 Comments

Brook Brown's picture

What?!? Why?

Alex Cooke's picture

Because seeing how the science works is fun.

A FILM dslr!!!???

Tom Nelson's picture

If you're using Adobe Bridge, I can help you speed up the process. Select the three images in Bridge and select Tools > Photoshop > Load Files Into Photoshop Layers. It creates a single file with the three images as layers. Their titles in the Layers palette are their filenames. In Photoshop, choose cmd-opt-A (ctrl-alt-A) to select all layers. Choose Edit > Auto-Align Layers or make a custom keyboard shortcut for that. Now your layers are nicely aligned. You can copy and paste them into their appropriate channels and be in proper alignment. You're welcome.

Jakub Valovič's picture

Cool, I did read about some early 20th (or late 19th) century russian photographer using this technique.

Also, technicolor works on more or less the same princpile.