At this moment, most if not all of my readers are practicing some form of “social distancing” because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I hope you are all staying well and coping with the difficulties associated with this historic situation.
With today’s post, I have a suggestion that will hopefully lift your spirits and alleviate any boredom you might be experiencing. The suggestion comes courtesy of the MyHeritage genealogy website. Back in February (it seems so long ago!), MyHeritage introduced MyHeritage in Color™, a feature that automatically colorizes black and white photographs. As an introductory offer, users could upload and colorize up to ten photos. Once the limit was reached, a user would need a paid subscription to continue using the feature. I tried it out and was impressed with the results. However, I did not opt for the paid subscription.
A few days ago, I was surprised to receive this email message from MyHeritage.
Yes, they are offering “free and unlimited access” to this feature. I took them up on the offer and went through my collection and colorized about 200 photos. More importantly, if you have old photos stashed away, you might want to try it out yourself. It’s a good way to stay active if you’re stuck at home. This shows what a photo looks like before and after colorization.
The results are impressive. The process uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decide which colors to use and where to place them. The computer algorithms are very good, but not perfect. If you look carefully at the photo above, you’ll see that the right hand of the girl standing in the front row is still gray. The AI failed to identify it as a body part. You can see a more extreme version of this in this detail from a photograph of Amos and Carrie Casbon’s family.
The AI has missed two of the children altogether, making them look like clay sculptures.
On the other hand, some of the results are amazing. The AI seems particularly good at producing flesh tones, hair color, and vegetation. In most cases, it seems to do a good job with clothing as well. I would think that better quality scanned images are more likely to fare well, but I’ve had good results with poor quality originals.
You can also see that the MyHeritage logo gets added to the colorized image—a small price to pay, in my opinion.
Do you have old black and white family photos or snapshots? I encourage you to try this out. Visit https://www.myheritage.com/incolor, where you’ll need to sign up for a free account. You’ll need to scan your black and white photos to make digital copies so you can upload them to the web page. I suggest you use a scanning resolution of 300 dots per inch or better.
Here are some of the favorites from my collection.