MyHeritage Photo Tools: How to Use In Color, Photo Enhancer and Deep Nostalgia

By Sunny Jane Morton

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Hello, I’m Sunny Morton with Family Tree Magazine here to introduce some popular photo features at genealogy subscription website MyHeritage. The best way to show you these tools is to demonstrate how they work. I’m here at where you can add photos to experiment with in a couple different ways. Once you’ve logged in under Family Tree you can choose to colorize, enhance and animate your photos by going to each of these individual tabs, but I prefer to just go to the My Photos area, which has all of the photos I’ve uploaded to work with with My Family Tree.

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You can either choose a photo that you’ve already uploaded or you can upload a new one.


Go to your photos area and grab the one you want. You can see we have a few options for working with this photo, but before I show you anything, I want to emphasize that when you play with these photo tools at MyHeritage it never saves over your original. First of all, you’ve uploaded a copy to the site and once you make any enhancements they save as a separate image, most of them with a little MyHeritage icon in the lower right to signify that the image has been altered.

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OK, now let’s dive into these tools. First, let’s apply some image enhancement.


What the photo enhancer here does is increase the resolution of your photos by using artificial intelligence. It helps to sharpen your images, especially faces, so the results are often a noticeable improvement, but because it’s artificial intelligence sometimes it’s not completely an improvement. That’s why I say experiment with these tools. One or more of them may be fabulous or a flop with any given image that you have here. So as you can see, I have enhanced this. It sharpened the focus, and I can toggle back and forth to see whether I like what’s happened or whether I don’t.


Look how much sharper those faces are. Now, I feel like I’ve introduced just a little bit of artifact into my grandfather’s face with this vertical line right here, but I also feel like my great-grandfather’s face is now much sharper. So now that I have enhanced the photo, I can share what I’ve done on social media, I can download a copy of either the original or the enhanced version, or I could download a side-by-side comparison of them if I think that’s interesting.


The next thing you might want to try is colorizing an image.


So here I’m showing you a picture of my great-grandmother holding my grandmother as a baby, and I’ve already chosen the image to colorize so that you didn’t have to watch it go through that.


When you colorize, what you’re doing is using a technology that relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to recognize objects in the picture and apply colors that seem realistic.


The tool doesn’t promise it will give you the colors that originally appeared of the fabric or the car or whatever is in the picture, so they may not be historically accurate, but the aim is to create something in color that is appealing and realistic and emotionally powerful.


So, that said, let’s see what happens when I colorize this image. Here’s the before and after effect. Now this I’ve always loved the sepia tone version, and it remains beautiful, but there’s something also very stark and lovely about this particular image when it is colorized.


The skin tones—even though they gray there a little bit on her neck and her chest—otherwise the skin tones with the baby and the baby’s hair color and the mottling of the flesh…all of that I think is really quite beautiful, and you might notice details that you had missed before.


So if the results are less than what you’re hoping for, you can always tweak the colorization with the settings. So, you have a little gear box right here and what you can do is you can choose to either add or not add contrast. So if I decided to take away the contrast, I could preview that and see if it changes in a way that I like, and I can click and hold it to make a comparison.


OK, so when I take away some of the contrast it’s a little bit grayer and I don’t get some of those darker shadows that may not be as appealing. I can also change it from an automatic to a manual rendering, and rendering is just about how the digital image appears and that’s something you just have to play with, again, so you can either increase or decrease it. You can look at what it is now and if I increase it a lot, let’s take a look at what happens for this particular picture, and for your image it might be different.


Alright, so what I’m seeing here, I want to click and hold again to compare, and I can choose which one I like. And then the last thing that I have here as one of my options, is I can choose one of their different colorization models and these would be ones, the different models that were released or the algorithms that were released at different times. So I could choose an alternative model along with the other settings that I have changed, and then again, apply the preview and wait to see a process and see what I like about it. And then eventually I would choose the combination that I’m happiest with.


So what about photos that were originally printed in color? If I come back here, let me show you one from my family archive that turned out really neat when I applied their colorization.


And what I’m seeing here is not a full colorization but a color restoration.


So MyHeritage has added a color restoration tool that will take some of these original colors that weren’t that great. Look at this sort of film of orange-red that settled on top of this picture from the 1950s, 1960s, somewhere in there. So you can see that it’s not a very stunning picture now after all this time, but when you restore those colors back to what your eye expects to see, and back to the what nature originally intended with those plants in the background, you can see that the colors are actually a lot crisper and this is a much more pleasurable photo to look at.


So you might have photos that have a film of sort of the gray over them or a cloudy cast or sometimes a redder color shift like you see here, or a blue color shift for slide photos. So again, this is a color restoration and the idea is to bring these colors back to their original hues.


The last thing I want to show you is an image animation tool that MyHeritage has launched.


It’s called Deep Nostalgia. So let me show you here. This image has already been enhanced and colorized as you can see, I can toggle back and forth from my original sepia tone picture to the one that’s been enhanced or sharpened, plus colorized. So if I choose to go with this one, I can animate this, I can click the option that says Animate, and then because there’s more than one face in the image, I can choose which face I want to animate. So I’ll choose this one, and what happens here is the tool has several pre-recorded video sequences that would drive the different types of gestures or movements of the face, so it chooses one that it thinks is best based on the angle of the face in the picture, and it applies these real gestures like blinking and the head movements.


So you can view the results as I’ve shown you here. You can also choose other animation sequences if you want to see what a different kind of animation of this face would look like.


Again, the results here are kind of hit-and-miss. That—a little part right there—that was a little bit of a miss. Because they move, sometimes they also have a lot of emotional power.


I’ve heard people comment that it was kind of hard for them to view animations of people that they knew and maybe have lost, and if the animation doesn’t go well it can look bizarre and that can also be challenging. So, I never knew this person. I don’t know how closely this animation captures her.


So these results are going to vary, and this tool especially may provoke some stronger emotional responses if it goes well or if it doesn’t. So I encourage you to experiment with these MyHeritage photo tools for free. If you’re not a subscriber you can do that with up to 10 photos, and to your heart’s content if you are a subscriber. I’m Sunny Morton with Family Tree Magazine.

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