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Remini App, Photo Magic or Folly?

gg, Remini

 

In early December, there was some Facebook buzz about the Remini app.  The app can enhance a photo to sharpen up any faces in the image.  It’s free, so I gave it a try.

I was not impressed.

But . . . that was my own fault.

I chose two especially small digital image files that I wish were larger.  These are two photos that different cousins sent to me.  I don’t have access to the originals to scan at a higher resolution.  I was hoping the app could compensate for that and show me crisper faces with more detail.

The first is a group photo.  Here is the original scan:

Great Grandma Brown (1)

And here is what the Remini app did to the photo:

IMG_6073

The faces are much crisper, but I don’t love the result.  It looks a little weird and I wasn’t very confident that the enhanced version was an accurate likeness of my family members.

The second photo started with an even smaller image file.  The results did not impress me.  Original on the left, Remini enhanced image on the right:

Not great, right?  But I’m not sure what I was expecting.  The image is not great to begin with.

So, that was that.  I still had the app on my phone, but I forgot all about it.

Then on January 9th of this year, I shared a lovely, but not perfectly crisp, image of Joseph & Petrina Skeen with two of their children.  A Twitter follower responded to my post with a crisper version of the photo.  Here is the original version:

SKEEN, Joseph & Petrina family of four

And here is the enhanced version:

IMG_6382

I was shocked by the difference!  It only took me a minute to realize he must have used the Remini app.  Suddenly I was torn.  Their faces look so accurate in the enhanced version when compared with other photos of these same family members.

Was this photo magic?  Cheating?  A scary form of AI technology that needs to stay well away from my precious ancestral photos?

I couldn’t decide.

Time passed.

I shared another photo of Joseph Skeen and a different Twitter follower enhanced the image to help decide which of Joseph’s eyes was blind.  She didn’t use the Remini app, but it got me wondering, so I tried a few more photos.

Original:

SKEEN, Joseph and Jane Zina Petrina family, abt 1923

Enhanced with Remini:

Joseph Skeen & Jane Zina Petrina Folkman family, abt 1923

Original:

FOLKMAN, Jane Zina Petrina with two sisters, lighter

Enhanced with Remini:

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman with two sisters, enhanced with Remini

Oh boy, those all look pretty magical!

 

So, is the Remini app photo magic or folly?

 

Well . . . the answer to that is clearly an opinion.

So what is my opinion?  I’m torn.  I think it’s both photo magic and potential folly.

Why?

If a careful Remini user enhances a photo and VERY CLEARLY labels that photo as an enhanced image, and shares it beside the original image, they have done their part to help viewers see the difference and form their own opinion about the accuracy of the enhancements.

However, the problem that can very easily follow is beyond the control of the original Remini user.  Someone else might choose to only save and use the enhanced image with no explanation.  That photo could then be shared with others in online trees and spread rapidly through other trees and be accepted as a historically accurate photo.

But is that a problem?  I think so, but again, that is a matter of opinion.

 

What do you think?  Photo magic or folly?

 

For those who are interested in how to use the app, it is pretty simple.  After opening the app, you will see the first screenshot.  After a few seconds, you will see the second screenshot.  Select “Enhance with Ad.”  Next choose “Free” as seen on the third screen.

Choose “Select from gallery” as seen in the first screenshot.  Then select a photo.  Then click on the blue circle with the checkmark as seen in the third screenshot.

After watching a short ad, you will see this message while the app works on your photo.

IMG_6521

Once it finishes, you will have the opportunity to look at each face and switch between the before and after to see the difference by touching the little icon at the bottom right.

When you are ready, you can click on “Full pic,” the first thumbnail, to see the whole photo.  You can also see the before and after of the whole photo and zoom in and out on the image.  When you are done, you click on the blue download arrow in the upper right to save the enhanced photo.

You can share the image directly from this screen if you like.  The enhanced photo will be in your camera roll.

IMG_6510

 

If you try it out, let me know what you think of the results!

And PLEASE, be careful about how you use and share the enhanced images the Remini app creates.  An important part of our job as family historians is to present our family’s history accurately — including our photo history.

 

Enjoy the PHOTO MAGIC!  Try to avoid the potential for FOLLY.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Remini App, Photo Magic or Folly?”

  1. I have heard about this app and seen its results in the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook. I wish I knew HOW it worked. Is it only available on the phone? Most of my old photos are only on my laptop, not on my phone.

    I am less troubled by the notion of editing a photo for clarity. A photograph is no more real than a mirror image. It’s light on film (in the old days). Making a photograph more clear is the same as taking it in or out of focus. What bothers me (and I see this on that group page all the time) is when people change the subject matter of a photograph—taking people out or adding new people in, changing the background, etc. That changes history. But clearing up and old photograph or making it lighter or darker doesn’t seem to me to be distorting reality any more than the original photographer did when he or she chose the pose, the lighting, the exposure.

    1. I also wish I knew how it worked!

      It’s an app, so phone or iPad. I have the Flickr app on my phone so I just downloaded a few of my ancestral photos out of there then used them in Remini. Then I sent the result to my computer by text.

      I agree that editing for clarity is far less troubling than altering who is in the photo. I just don’t understand how Remini works well enough to totally trust it. I think my first two photo attempts gave me a strong negative bias. One seemed like it was guessing too much and the other just looks bad. I regularly edit out dust, scratches, etc from my photos. If I knew how to make the image clearer I suppose I might do that as well, but I don’t know how to do it. Soooo, my bias is based on my lack of knowledge. (Does that make me an old fuddy-duddy in relation to this topic…?)

      1. LOL! Not at all. I respect your purism on this issue. But for me, the chance to improve the clarity is very exciting. That’s why I wondered how it works. Is it just repixillating what’s there or adding something new? Hard to know.

        1. Haha! I do like the increased clarity too, that’s why I can’t totally let it go. 🙃😂

          I’m hoping someone will explain it to me! I want to understand what the app is actually doing.

  2. Great post! Does this app require a sign-in? That’s what it prompts on my phone. What is required for that, just an email and passwords? And after you sign in, does the “Enhance with Ad” button appear? Right now what I’m seeing is different than what your screenshots show. Thank you!

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