Turning Black & White photos into colour with Deoldify

In my last blog post, I talked about how I had discovered some of my fathers’ old positive slide transparencies under the stares. Well at the same time I stumbled upon a photo album “Sunny Snaps”

These pictures are from my fathers’ youth the 1940’s I guess, I love the images and the black & white process of the time, however, unlike the colour slides there was no immediate job to be done with them and I had no scanner and so they went back in the box never to be looked at again. That was until the other night when I was watching the RTE news ( RTE is the national broadcaster here in Ireland ) They did a small piece on “Giving old photos a new lease of life” essentially they talked about how Professor John Breslin NUI Galway has used the open-source software Deoldify to colour old black and white images in his project  “Old Ireland in Colour”. He has provided a video tutorial for people who would like to try it for themselves, Just search Deoldify Tutorial. For more information follow the link below. https://www.facebook.com/rtenews/videos/2610959572474984/?v=2610959572474984

We have all see this process many times but what is new about this is the element of machine learning – It’s essentially an automated process where the program is identifying the face and other elements in the image and guessing the colour – I have been fascinated by the process ever since I saw peter Jackson they shall not grow old. In this film Jackson colourises old World War 1 footage – It is well worth watching and really brings that time in history to life.

As with the previous process of cleaning and using the negative digitizer to restore the slide film I have really enjoyed this process and seeing the world of my fathers youth, him, his sisters, his father… in colour has been fascinating. I definitely found that some images worked better than others – It seems the more detail the better and of course, you could use this as a starting place for a detailed edit in photoshop but what I have uploaded is straight from Deoldify – The process is a little convoluted when you get to the Deoldify web site but if you follow Prof Breslin’s guide you will get there. All in all, I’ve really enjoyed the process and it really has shown me a unique glimpse of the world my father grew up in.