Instantly Colorize Your Black-And-White Photos

Do you have old black-and-white family photographs? A new service on Algorithmia uses a deep learning algorithm to add color to the photos. Yes, it works. The colors may not be perfect but they are almost always better than black-and-white. The service is easy to use and, best of all, is available FREE of charge.

Algorithmia_color

For instance, here is one well-known black-and-white on the left and a computer-enhanced color version on the right. Algorithmia can do the same for your photographs.

To use Algorithmia’s service, your photo must be available online someplace that is accessible by a URL without requiring a password. The photo(s) might be stored as a shared photo in Dropbox, Google Photos, Shutterfly, Flickr, Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive, your own web site, or most any other online service that stores publicly-visible photographs.

NOTE: If the web site requires a user name and password to access the photograph, Algorithmia’s colorizing service will not be able to retrieve it.

To colorize a photo, go to the Algorithmia service at http://demos.algorithmia.com/colorize-photos/, paste the URL of a black-and-white image and tap “colorize it.” After a few seconds of processing, a comparison of the original and colorized images appears.

It seems like Algorithmia’s tool works best with images of faces, simple landscapes, and clear skies. The more complex and cluttered the photograph, the less successful the results.

For instance, here are before-and-after photographs of Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), the inventor of the telegraph, that I colorized by using Algorithmia’s free colorizing service :

Samuel_Morse_B&W

Samuel_Morse_color

Not bad for a photograph of a man who died before color photography was invented!

Note that Algorithmia’s colorizing tool does add a small “watermark” to the lower right corner of every image that is colorized.

You can try this yourself at http://demos.algorithmia.com/colorize-photos/.

Algorithmia’s colorizing tool is available FREE of charge unless you wish to convert thousands of images per month. Pricing information for high-volume users may be found at https://algorithmia.com/pricing.

My thanks to newsletter reader Terry Mulcahy for telling me about Algorithmia’s colorizing tool.

13 Comments

You can see more detail in the Black and White so I will keep my black and white. It will be interesting to see what colors they add especially to photos where I know what the colour should be.

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I don’t support colorization. First, black and white has its own strong visual appeal. Think of the great b/w images such as Karsh’s portrait of Winston Churchill. Or the many by Bachrach and other photographers. Second and even more important, it is a falsification of history. We don’t know what colors are accurate, from clothing to the shade of a person’s skin or color of their eyes. Didn’t we learn our lesson from Ted Turner’s foray into colorization?

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The photo doesn’t need to be online – there is an option to upload the B&W photo from your computer. I’ve just tried that and it works, although I wasn’t too convinced by the results!

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The first example shows two different images (possibly different parts of the same photo).

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Verrry Interestink!!
I have fold black & white photos which have faded to a light sepia — Used GIMP’s Restore to good B&W. I will now also try colorizing.

I did notice, however that the algorithm used mi-interpreted the top part to sky — it looks to me like in the original B&W, that was more city.

Personally, I keep the original and any restored or colorized versions — with a note explaining the post-processing.

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Those photos are not identical. But, what takes my breathe away is how casually those men are sitting on that beam. I would imagine that the medals Morse is proudly wearing are/were quite gorgeous. Probably gold with vivid red, blue, and purple colors, and the ribbons were likely deep, rich colors. The coloration does not reflect that.

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I tried a number pf pictures. Results vary wildly. It will always produce the same results for the same picture but, some pictures are more successful than others, It’s too bad it watermarks the picture. That alone kind of ruins it for me.

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B&W more authentic

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I think it is a great idea for those who want color, perhaps a bit more visual interest in the photo albums. I can see down the road, though, people with colorized pictures from the 1870’s and claiming that either color photography was invented then or that the color pictures are original.

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I joined the site, but found nothing relating to colorizing photos. I will not be using the site.

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