Photo Restoration


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Photo restoration - that's what you're expected to do when your mom gives you a 56 year old photograph of you grandparents and it's faded and stained and scratched and folded with a really weird color cast.

She gave it to you " ... 'cause you know that Photoshop stuff" and "OH, by the way ... we need it next week for our family reunion."

If you're not experienced in photo restoration then perhaps your best bet is to hire a professional photo restorer to get the job done correctly and on time because ...

... those damaged old photos are images of real people - in many cases they are your ancestors and they deserve your honor, respect and the very best you can do.

If that's the case then take a few minutes to discover what a professional Photo Restorer can do for you

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the preceding scenario to occur, why not diligently devote yourself to the fascinating world of photo restoration.


photo restoration family


The challenges you will face will be much greater than simply getting rid of the annoying red eye you managed to create with your DSLR or Point and Shoot camera.  These oldies but goodies seem to have all kinds of problems which require the ministration of many different Photoshop tools and techniques.

Photo Restoration is part technique, part skill and part art.

You will likely use more tools in your Photoshop toolkit than you have ever used on any other photo.  Of course, any restoration project will be much easier to complete when you are using either a Wacom Bamboo or Wacom Intuos as your primary editing tool.

"Which Digital Editor Program Should I Use?"


Of course you need a good photo editing program.  You will find tutorials using the most popular editors right here.  they include:

  • Photoshop - is the best and most comprehensive digital editor

  • Photoshop Elements - is capable of doing a good job restoring old images but has some limitations

  • Paint Shop Pro - is a fabulous program that compares well to the full version of Photoshop
These tutorials are done with Photoshop CS, Elements 7.0 and Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 on an aging AMD Athalon with XP.  

Photo restoration is not a quick fix.  It's easy to spend hours or even days working with one image to repair all of its flaws and what a kick and feeling of accomplishment you will feel when you are done!

The Tools


Photo restoration is not a quick fix like a lot of digital editing techniques.  It's easy to spend hours or even days working with one image to repair all of its flaws and what a kick and feeling of accomplishment you will feel when you are done!

A Wacom Tablet will make your work so much easier and so much more accurate plus the natural feel will allow you to comfortably work longer (into the wee small hours much to the annoyance of your significant other).

The Wacom Bamboo is a great choice, or a Wacom Intuos tablet are excellent choices and if you have the funds then a Cintiq will boggle your mind.  Whichever you choose you can be sure it will help you produce better results than you could ever produce with a mouse!

You will need a good quality scanner or access to one.  Mine is a Canon Scanner (Canoscan 8400f) that scans both paper and film negatives (from 35 mm to 2 1/4" square).

If you are a laptop user (MAC or Windows) you will probably find it really useful to connect the largest LCD monitor you can afford and a keyboard to that little machine. This will give you lots of visible real estate to work with on those amazing old  pictures and working on a laptop for hours can get very tiring.

A Bamboo Capture or Create also provides the multi-touch capability that can replace that small laptop trackpad.

A Digital Editing Professional was showing me a project he was working on and I asked him how long he had been at it - 4 days is what he said and he still had work to do.

The Tutorials

 
You will likely find that the majority of your time will be spent cleaning up spots and lines and creases so that is where we will start ...

Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Scratch Repair


"How the heck did that image get such a huge scratch" you ask.

photo restoration scratch repairIt doesn't really matter how it happened because there it is staring at you with all its glory.  Funny - when you see an image with a big scratch that is where your eyes go so that ugly scratch it needs to be repaired.

The correct question is "how the heck do I repair it"?

With this image massive amounts of careful cloning will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Click the thumbnail to follow along ...

Curves and Channel Mixer
(Photoshop Only)

 It's not unusual to find and old photo that looks very much like the thumbnail - off color, with poor contrast and a host of other problems.

photo restoration familyAt the very least fixing up the contrast makes it much easier to deal with the other issues such as stains and scratches and dust spots and on and on ...

It's not absolutely necessary to eliminate the sepia color of the image but I find it easier to work on the grayscale image than on the sepia toned image.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to deal with the color cast and the contrast issues.


Shadows Highlights (Photoshop Elements)

photo restoration shadows highlights

The shadows highlights adjustment in Elements is both amazing and very easy to use.

What it does is open up blocked shadows and darken highlights and works perfectly with an image that needs some tender love and care.

Click the thumbnail to learn how to restore a photo with Shadows highlights.





Damaged Photograph (Photoshop Elements)

photo restoration spot and cloneRestoration of a badly damaged image with the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Tool can produce amazing results with some care and some time.

This image was found in a parking lot covered is slush, snow and gravel.  It had been walked on and driven over - it's a real mess, isn't it?

The damage reacted beautifully to the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Tool with my Wacom tablet.

Click the thumbnail to follow along with this long and interesting restoration.




Paint Shop Pro Photo X2

Scratch Repair

I was totally amazed by Paint Shop Pro's ability to remove a nasty scratch in the same image photo restoration paint shop proused for the Photoshop scratch repair.

With Paint Shop the scratch was completely eliminated in abut 5 minutes - with Photoshop it took over an hour or painstaking cloning.

Paint Shop has three tools to eliminate most problems on a damaged image - the Clone Tool, the Object Remover and the Scratch Remover. They are fabulous!

Click the thumbnail to find out how to use these great tools!

Curves and Channel Mixer

This tutorial will use the Channel Mixer and Curves in Paint Shop Pro to improve contrast and photo restoration psp curveseliminate an annoying color cast.

There may be other problems with the image and making these initial improvements will make it much, much easier to fix the rest of those other issues..

Click the thumbnail to learn how to improve contrast and eliminate color cast.



Page Links

Software

The Tools

The Tutorials

Photo Restoration


Restoring old family images is probably the most challenging and rewarding editing you will ever do with Photoshop.

Giving someone a perfect porcelain complexion is easy and just plain fluff when compared to rescuing an image that is torn with parts missing.

The challenges you will face will be much greater than simply getting rid of the annoying red eye you managed to create with your DSLR or Point and Shoot camera. 

These oldies but goodies seem to have all kinds of problems which require the application of many different Digital Editing tools and techniques.

Photo Restoration is part technique, part skill and part art.

You will likely use more tools in your Editors toolkit than you have ever used on any other photo.

Typical Images
In Need of Some
Photo Restoration

photo restoration castle
Lacking Contrast
Dust Marks


photo restoration staff party
Dust and Scratches


photo restoration old image
Stain, Color Cast
Contrasty


photo restoration the ts
Dust, Lacks Contrast


photo restoration tugboat
Nasty Scratches, Color Cast


photo restoration syrup
Lacking Contrast







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