Monday 28 February 2022

Using MyHeritage’s Photo Improvements Processes

I use a lot of images in my blogs, published articles and presentations. Some are photos of people. Many are diagrams, graphs or copies of documents from parish registers, books and articles or websites.

Images from old sources are often grainy and indistinct. In order to make them readable, especially when reproduced in journals where they might be small, I often run them through the Photo Enhancer process on MyHeritage.

I first wrote about this process on 13 February 2020, in a blog titled Colourized Photos, using the MyHeritage in Color process introduced in February 2020.They added further improvements with the Photo Enhancer in June 2020, Color Restoration in January 2021 and Photo Repair on May 2021.. In my blog post I showed examples of some old black and white and sepia-toned family photos dating back to 1886. It was neat to see the people in colour.

I have since tried to improve the quality of different types of images including those taken from websites and scanned from publications. Old vital records from parish records can sometimes by a bit fuzzy but you can improve them with Photo Enhancer just the same as pictures of people. When I look to include images in my blog posts, publications or presentations I first see if I can make them look better by running through the MyHeritage processes. Some need repairs as well as enhancing. Some monochrome images I like to see in colour.

Here are a few I have used recently:

In a presentation about volcanic activity and its effect on people, I found a picture of the 1902 eruption of Mount Pele on the island of Martinique. The image appears to be an artist’s rendering and compilation of a photo of the eruption with the village of Saint Pierre superimposed. It has been reproduced on many sites and in many publications. I thought it might look impressive in colour, so I took the sepia-toned image and ran it through both the enhancement and colourizing processes. It looks great in my presentation about the impact of volcanoes. 

For my article in The Scottish Genealogist, about my wife’s uncle and his experiences in Burma in 1942, one of his granddaughters sent me a snapshot taken of him and his Cameronian (Scottish Rifles) compatriots as members of a football team. I enhanced, repaired and colourized the image. In the article I used the black and white enhanced version. 

Sometimes reproductions of newspaper articles can be a little fuzzy. I enhanced this one from the Manchester Mercury, published on 21 October 1783, which commented on the Laki, Iceland eruption. It was much more readable for my article in Family Tree magazine. 

Several years ago, we obtained a photo on my wife’s grandmother, taken when she was admitted to a Glasgow region hospital. The original sent to us in on the left and, while you can make out her face, the yellow tint and the fuzzy reproduction leaves something to be desired. I enhanced the photo for an article for Internet Genealogy and then adjusted it to grayscale mode for the publication. Her visage is much sharper in the improved image. 

For the cover of a new book just out, The Wreck of the Bay of Panama, 10 March 1891, my co-author, Terry Moyle, and I obtained a copy of a Gibson photo of the stricken ship, taken as it sat on the shoals near Nare Point, Cornwall. I had the photo enhanced and colourized which made a much better illustration of the scene. 

I often capture graphs from professional journals and books to use in my articles and presentations. This one shows the long-term aridity changes in the western USA, and was copied from a paper title Megadroughts in North America by Edward Cook et al (2010). The original capture is at the top; the middle version is an enhanced version; and the bottom image is how I used it in my presentation slide about Drought and Family History. The enhanced version is much sharper.

I started using the improvement methods of MyHeritage for fun. It was great to see what people really looked like, in living colour as it were. Now, in addition, they are a regular means of getting images that can be used to advantage in my talks and written work.

I recommend you go to the MyHeritage website and try them.