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MyHeritage in Color

James Young & Catherine Brown, Colorized

 

MyHeritage recently launched “MyHeritage in Color.”

 

This new tool has gained instant popularity among genealogists.  It is simple to use.  You upload an old photo here and within a few seconds, MyHeritage presents a colorized version of your image.

You can read more about this service from the MyHeritage blog here.

I decided to give it a test drive earlier this week.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s look at the photos I tried out beside the original images.

 

YOUNG, James at far right and wife Catherine is third from right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outdoor photos seemed to do the best.  Solid, dark colors in clothing and texture to the photo itself seem to have the worst results.

Generally, I’m not a fan of altering photos beyond cleaning up dust, scratches, fingerprints, etc.  But there is something special about seeing a favorite old photo in color.

MyHeritage gets a big thumbs up from me for two very specific things.  First, they add the little white paint palette in the corner of the photo to indicate that it has been colorized.  Second, when you download a colorized photo from MyHeritage they retain the file name and add “Colorized” to the end of the file name.

If you choose to use this tool, PLEASE be very clear in your filename and notes that the photo has been colorized by an online tool.

For those of you who have been sucked into the magic, here’s a little reality check.  I uploaded a favorite photo of my son in black and white to see what the MyHeritage tool would do to it:

 

Marvelous Middle Boy, b&w

Marvelous Middle Boy, colorized

 

Looks pretty good, right?  It does.  But there is one huge problem.  My marvelous middle boy does not have brown eyes.  Here is the original in color:

 

Marvelous Middle Boy, color original

 

Have fun playing with this new tool, but PLEASE remember two important things:

  • The results are just speculation by artificial intelligence, a possibility for what the original colors MIGHT have been.
  • ALWAYS accurately and carefully identify when an ancestral photo has been altered.

 

 

Happy Friday, I hope you have a wonderful weekend loaded with genealogy goodness!  xoxo

 

 

7 thoughts on “MyHeritage in Color”

  1. I think this app does a terrible job. Look at your son’s complexion, not to mention his eyes! Look at how everyone in group photos has the same skin color! It’s awful. I uploaded a photograph of my mother and grandmother, both of whom had beautiful red hair. The app made them brunettes. And everyone is always wearing black because the app can’t determine the color of clothing. I deleted the few photos I tried on MyHeritage for fear that somehow those colorized versions would be taken as real. I agree with you—this can be a very dangerous method of changing history.

    1. I was trying to be diplomatic about it, but I agree with you! I shared every photo I tried in this post with the exception of one (because it’s a photo I haven’t shared anywhere yet). The only photos I think look “good” are the first and last of the ancestor photos. The photo of my son is at least smooth and doesn’t have the weird blotches. But I am surprised by the inconsistencies in almost every image. I’ve been wondering if most people are trying lots of photos and then only sharing the one that looks good-ish…? I certainly won’t be spending more time with it. 😉

      1. Me neither! My family’s red hair is an important genetic trait (which unfortunately I did not inherit), and I’d hate to think someday people would think my mother, aunt, grandmother, and great-aunt were all brunettes. 😀

        1. EXACTLY! Colorizing old photos and just guessing at the colors is a risky business, especially if the colorizer or AI tool is not using good information to choose colors.

          Your comment about your family reminds me of an ancestor of mine for whom there is no known photo. She was a pioneer and died as a young mother a few short years after settling in Utah. There are photos of her husband, but not her. The only thing we know about her appearance is that she had beautiful red hair. I don’t even need a photo to know that little bit about her and treasure it. If a photo of her turned up, it would be black and white. That photo could quickly replace the only appearance related information we know about her and then what if it was colorized and she was made a brunette like your ancestors?! Nope, nope, nope.

        2. Oh! And for the record, I LOVE the photos my great-grandmother hand colored with oil paints. But she did that at the time (or near the time) the photo was taken. It was an art form based on accurate information.

          I also recognize that there are many very talented digital colorizers today who are creating art pieces for descendants to treasure. I just don’t love this leap into the unknown with the AI colorizing that could spread through trees quickly and then muddy the waters in the future.

          1. I had one done by a real professional, and she did a beautiful job. And she asked all kinds of questions before she did it. I have no issues with that—-as long as it’s made clear that it was colorized.

            1. Exactly how I feel about it! But that is an wonderful art form based on good information. I would hate to see a tool like this damage the opportunities for talented artists like you used.

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