MyHeritage launched a new feature on 11 February called MyHeritage In Color™.  It became popular so fast that within 5 days over 1 million photographs had been colorized, according to their website.  I noticed a lot of comment about it right away on the genealogy websites and blogs that I track.  So I decided to give it a try.

Basically, you just upload a black-and-white photograph and within seconds the software converts it to a colorized image, which you can then save to your hard drive or share.  It is very easy to use.  You have to register an account with MyHeritage to use the tool and are allowed to colorize a number of photographs for free.  Eventually, they ask you to subscribe.  If you have a subscription with MyHeritage, there is no limit.

Generally, I was impressed, although some photographs convert more spectacularly than others.  The featured photo at the top is pretty good.  It shows Dorthe Eriksdatter Aabyrge (1838-1938), my 2GG, sitting on the hillside in Sogndal, Norway, with her grandchildren Johanna and Olav.  The photo was taken on her 100th birthday in 1938, I believe.  Here’s the original black-and-white version to compare:

Dorthe Eriksdtr Aabyrge (1838-1938), abt 1938, alongside grandchildren Johanna and Olav (Source: Author’s collection, from Jack Bonn)

Here’s another one that came out nicely.  It shows my grandfather Lloyd Jonnes (1890-1952) and several brothers and sisters circa 1907 in Circleville, Ohio.  The coloring of their dog is especially good.

Jones kids c. 1907, Circleville, Ohio (Source: author’s collection)

Jones kids c. 1907, Circeville, Ohio – colorized by MyHeritage (Source: author’s collection)

 

Outdoor photos tend to come out well because the software automatically fills in the foliage and tree trunks with greens and browns.  In some cases, though, I was not so impressed.  The color range seems limited.  I feel like reds and blues – blues for  sure anyway – are in short supply and clothing often comes out grayish or purplish-brown.  Flesh tones still need some work too.  But maybe that’s just my eye.   Nevertheless, for a first start this is quite good.  I’m sure there will be advancements in the future.

You’ll notice that the colorized photos have a small color-wheel icon embedded in the lower left corner.  This happens automatically and is meant to indicate that the color is not original.  I thought this was smart so subsequent viewers can tell immediately it is a colorized rather than an original color image.

You can even colorize photos that already have some color in them.  These seem to turn out the best.  Here’s a circa 1918 photograph of my grandmother’s log playhouse on Star Island, Cass Lake, Minnesota.  It shows my grandmother Helen Vermilyea, age 9 or so, with her two younger brothers Bud and King in front of the playhouse.  You can see the original already had some coloring, but the new image really makes it pop.

Helen playhouse on Star Island c. 1918 (Source: author’s collection)

Helen playhouse on Star Island c. 1918 – colorized by MyHeritage (Source: author’s collection)

 

I thought the tool was also impressive at converting images without people in them.  Here’s the Louis W. Hill houseboat in 1900 on Cass Lake, Minnesota, before and after colorization.  (The boat was converted by my ancestor Fred A. King into a cabin on Star Island around 1912, as described in my article in Minnesota Genealogist.1)Steven Nelson Jonnes, “The Missing Cottage on Star Island: Fred A. King Converts Louis W. Hill Houseboat,” Minnesota Genealogist, 47:3 (Fall 2016): 16-29.)  However, we know that the original houseboat was painted green, while the colorization software selected a brown hue.

Louis W. Hill houseboat, 1900 (Source:Minnesota Historical
Society, per Use Agreement #4468 with Steven N.
Jonnes dated 10/22/2015)

Louis W. Hill houseboat, 1900 – colorized by MyHeritage (Source:Minnesota Historical Society, per Use Agreement #4468 with Steven N.
Jonnes dated 10/22/2015)

 

Here’s another: Park Place, the Jones family estate in Circleville, Ohio in 1920.  This one came out amazingly.

Park Place, Circleville, Ohio, 1920 (Source: author’s collection)

Park Place, Circleville, Ohio, 1920 – colorized by MyHeritage (Source: author’s collection)

 

This is quite fun.  MyHeritage In Color™ is addictive!

References   [ + ]

1. Steven Nelson Jonnes, “The Missing Cottage on Star Island: Fred A. King Converts Louis W. Hill Houseboat,” Minnesota Genealogist, 47:3 (Fall 2016): 16-29.