Improving Your Family Photographs

Brighten Up Your Dark Family Photos

     I imagine that everyone has taken at least one "dark" photo in their lifetime . In today's world of digital photography, we likely took so many photos that a "dark" one would have been quickly deleted. However, what about a dark photo of an ancestor 50 years or more ago? What if it was one of only a few photos of that ancestor? Chances are you would want to save it, and think about finding away to brighten it up. Below are some comparisons between a dark photo and one that has been lightened.

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     There are some free and available tools that you can use to edit and at least improve the photo enough to show the detail. We'll talk about these tools below.

     I have used to teach students about improving color tone and lighting problems. This is a free online photo editor with some pretty good tools, and uses your browser as the interface. is another free online browser based photo editor that I used many years ago. There are other online photoeditors that charge a small monthly access fee, but they really don't offer any significant benefits for general photo editing over the two described above.

     I personally use Affinity Photo for my photoediting choice. It is a one-time purchase for about $50 and has all the editing tools you would ever need for editing your photos. Our local Idaho Falls FamilySearch Center also has 6 copies of Affinity Photo on computers that you can access as well.

Tutorial Help?

     I have a PhotoPea Tutorial available on how to lighten a dark photo. Two tools are discussed:

  • The Brightness/Contrast tool, an older tool that still occasionally has some benefit
  • The Levels tool, a much more versatile tool to improve photos that are both light and dark.

     Another tool, the "Curves Tool" has become my favorite first "go to" tool if there are both lighting and color tone problems. It is a bit more complex to learn, and is a combination of the Levels tool and the brightness/darkness tool. I am working on a tutorial that discusses this tool as well using the same photo below.

Need Some One-on-One Help?

     If you need any help in developing your photo editing skills, I would be glad to work with you online via Zoom, or at our local Idaho Falls FamilySearch Center for those can come in (once the center reopens). If you would like me to help you via Zoom in the meantime, click HERE to sign up for a scheduled time.