MyHeritage just introduced a new feature to colorize photos automatically. I logged in and had a new home page that I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t know where to look for the colorizer (today it’s at the top of the new home page; I don’t remember it there yesterday), but found it easily — and marked “new” — in the “Family Tree” menu.
I’m not the kind of person who ever wanted old photos colorized. If they were black and white or sepia, I was fine with them. But I tried it anyway for fun.
For the first few photos I tried, it really emphasized to me that we don’t need to colorize old photos because everyone was just wearing black, white, and gray, according to the colorizer. It applied more color to the backgrounds and the skin tones. Below is the first photo I tried.
Eventually, I found a photo where the colorizer added a bit of color in the clothes. And then I had one that really popped out some color. Look, red stripes!
My first photo had some green background, but when I tried another, it was even brighter. And is that really the color the uniform is supposed to be? That’s what I was looking for, but I don’t even know. Did the colorizer make it gray or khaki? The background skews it so I can’t even tell.
I tried a photo with water but wasn’t impressed with the color. A photo I took a century later from near the same place shows the water much bluer. (Taking a second look, I’d still like the water a little bluer, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought.) It did put some bright red on the flag, but it also put red on the blue field of the flag.
I went looking for a specific couple of pictures that I think were taken about the same time, one in color the other black and white. When I found them, they weren’t quite the example that I was hoping. However, I uploaded the color one for kicks. Whoa.
It looks like it lost the red in the plant, but the plant in the background doesn’t concern me here. In the same folder, I had a very orange photo, so I tried that one too.
Well now, that’s very interesting what it does with color photos.
I still didn’t have an example like I wanted, one where I knew the color it should be (besides green grass and blue sky). So I grayscaled a couple of my photos and tried them.
The colorizer did not get the colors in the clothes. It sort of kind of got the pink a little in a couple spots but did not use a solid color for some reason. It did not guess correctly on the green at all. And why is some of the skin color also gray in the bottom one? It doesn’t recognize that skin can be on both sides of a necklace?
All in all, not bad.
I don’t feel the need to make my black and white or sepia photos into color, but the colorizer was fun to try on them. Most of the time, clothes were black and white and gray with some mid-tone reds. Many times, the reds showed up in odd spots instead of coloring the entire solid colored article of clothing, which was weirder than just making it gray. According to the colorizer, no one has ever worn bright colors or blues and greens.
Feeding it sepia photos was hit or miss. Some looked pretty decent but others were not as good. I didn’t try to make the sepia into grayscale then upload them to the colorizer, which I’m sure would have changed the results.
Skin tones also missed sometimes, but only a few times. They were just off in a weird way; some had more white than peach. One photo (not included above) looked almost like it was a colorized painting, and it didn’t even make the dark lipstick look red. I’m in a white family, so I didn’t have other skin tones easily available to try.
Grass, trees, and sky did pretty well in the photos. I feel like water could have looked bluer.
The surprise to me was what the colorizer did with color photos, especially with washed out or oranged photos. I will probably try running more of those kinds of photos through it and keep them. Maybe MyHeritage should push this feature out more.
How did the colorizer do for your family photos?