Colorize B&W Photos – MyHeritage – Free to 4/22/2020 is offering all users free and unlimited access to “MyHeritage in Color” , a feature which automatically colorizes black and white photos through April 22, 2020. After colorizing nearly 800 photos (four long nonstop days of editing with more to go), the general results were nothing short of WoW … a literal shiver went up my spine when I saw my grandparents in color for the first time! Sometimes the results are hit or miss … but this exercise is definitely a “must do” in your photo library – especially now when it is free. Generally, the results depend on how good your original black and white photo scans are. Here are some examples of “before” and “after” photos to give you an idea what to expect.

Here are other resources to colorize photos:

Original black and white NARA file immigration photo versus the automatic colorization. Note in the free version there is a “MyHeritage” watermark on the bottom right corner of the colorized photo. With a paid subscription there is no watermark. This is one of the better, more natural, colorization efforts of my paternal grandfather who died at age 50. I never met him, he died before I was born.

MyHeritage is more than just colorization. A quick tour of the site reveals (1) the ability to build your own family history website complete with family tree and photo library; (2) DNA test results for health, genealogy and ethnicity; and (3) research 12 billion records. For all these services, cost is $7.42 a month, or $89 a year for a family tree size of under 2500.

As of this writing I only focused on doing colorization, but the site looks to be worth a second look to hosting your family tree. You are allowed up to 500mg of photos in the digital library for free. If you run into an error message when you try to upload, it means you reached your 500mg limit. Go to the toolbar under, “Family Tree”, “My Photos”, then click the right corner of each photo to check it off, then go to the upper right corner, “More Options”, “Delete All” to free up space to colorize more photos.

Colorization process takes seconds once you upload the file. Notice that even though the original black and white contrast is low, the colorization process worked fairly well. This photo was taken months before my maternal grandfather died. His last words to his family was, “Be united and live in harmony”. I never met him, he died before I was born.
Even though the original photo was color, the colorization process restored color balance. This is an invaluable tool for color balancing and color correcting . Yes, that skinny kid with Buddy Holly glasses is me\-)
Despite a perfectly exposed photo, note that OVER colorized portions on the jacket. Future reversions in the paid subscription will allow you to control the level of colorization so it will not be over saturated. This is my dad after he returned home from WWII as a Navy Seabee stationed on Midway Island.
Note the incomplete colorization on the nose, and the over saturation on the collar. My paternal grandfather was a sharecropper, master brewer, and labor contractor of Chinese labor to prune, dig irrigation ditches, spray DDT (without masks) and pick pears in the Sacramento Delta.
The original photo was badly damaged after 80 year degenerating into a monochromatic mess. Colorization was nothing short of amazing. This is my grandmother working in her garden. Dinner for my mother were crackers soaked in hot water, or bread topped with sugar, so the garden provided vital substance for a family of seven.
Wedding of Au Wai Seung and Chan Kin On, 1923, Canton, China. Value: Priceless.
My father with his mother and siblings in 1927 on the ranch. Pear orchards are in the background. This is one of the oldest photos of my dad. I would have paid a months subscription just to colorize for this photo.

Enjoy bringing color into your family’s past, and writing the story of their lives.

Many thanks to Gail Chong for this resource referral! If you find any good family history / genealogy resources, please share them to me, and I will distribute to the group.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be well.


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