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Old Jan 23 2010, 01:17 PM   #1
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Default My photo restoration project

Hi folks. I thought I would post an example showing what has been keeping me busy for the past few weeks/months. As I mentioned in another thread, I uncovered 4 boxes of old non-digital photos in my attic and have been scanning and digitising them to store in a digital photo frame I gave to my parents for Christmas.

I am now scanning and restoring some of the very old family photos lent to me by my parents - some badly faded and abused over the years, but I am restoring them one by one. Here is an example - one of my Mum's school photographs from 1948. This is what the original picture looks like:

and this is my restored version:

The restorations are not perfect, but they are good enough for a digital photo frame, and I have dozens of photographs to get through. Each one takes about an hour to restore to this level. The project is giving me some good practice at using Adobe Photoshop, which I have been teaching myself for the past few months.
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Old Jan 23 2010, 03:08 PM   #2
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Impressive
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Old Jan 23 2010, 03:57 PM   #3
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Very well done! I've done a lot of pojects like these and still do at times. Are you using photoshop, Steven?



Edited: silly question beause Steven says in his post he's using photoshop!
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Old Jan 23 2010, 09:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: My photo restoration project

Good job, Steven. Which version of Photoshop are you using? I'm asking because I use Photoshop 6, and have a "teaching" CD on how to use it. I'd burn you a copy and send it to you if you think it would help. It's "Professor Teaches Photoshop 6".

You might get the free download of Gimp as well. There are things that it will do that Photoshop doesn't do (at least in 6), and vice-versa. I have Gimp 2.0 and it's the program I use to turn photos into scroll saw patterns.

Again, nice work!
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Old Jan 24 2010, 05:59 AM   #5
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Apologies in advance to non-Photoshop users....

I am using Adobe Photoshop CS4. The photos are restored first using the tonal correction tools to bring out the hidden details. Then for a photo like the above with defects and scratches I use the healing brush and clone stamp to make repairs. After that I apply the dust and scratches and noise reduction filters to remove the remaining small defects, and I dab the blurring tool over any parts of the photo that show the repair marks. Finally, I make tonal corrections again and (if the original was a black and white photo) desaturate the photo to remove the colour build up.

The repairs are the hardest things to do. I start with a fairly large brush size and work my way downwards. I stop after about an hour (since the pictures are for display on a screen) but I spend longer for pictures that need to be printed (my parents' wedding photos for example).

I watched some of introductory photoshop videos on the Adobe web site, and I have read most of the 700 page user manual which was included on the disk. I also have the "Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Digital Photographers" book by Scott Kelby, which has been my bedtime reading on and off for the past few months. If the teaching video covers the same material I probably already know the technical info, but I am always interested in hints and tips on how to make the best use of the bewildering variety of tools (which is what Scott Kelby's book does).

Does Gimp provide any additional repair and restoration features? I sometimes wish the dust and scratches filter could be programmed to look for particular shaped defects - so it could zap out linear scratches, for example, but preserve the circular highlights in someone's eye. Do you know if there is a programming API published for Photoshop? I would love to be able to write my own plug-ins.

Lanen and I are very different - she can read and absorb novels very quickly, but I take ages to read them. But give me a 700 page technical manual and I'll zip through it...
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Old Jan 24 2010, 06:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: My photo restoration project

Impressive, StevenB.

Hubby had to do something similiar with his father's slides and it took him some months to go through over 1000 photos. He's debating about doing my parents' slides as my mum is in the process of getting her house renovated so it may be after she's finished getting that done before anything else. She made a scrapbook for my brother and I was able to solve one photo's location for her but not on others.
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Old Jan 24 2010, 09:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: My photo restoration project

Wow, well done Steven!
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Old Jan 24 2010, 03:51 PM   #8
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Nice work SteveB, my dad got his project slide done to CD-ROM which ended up good.
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Old Jan 25 2010, 01:28 AM   #9
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The difference between the 2 photos is amazing! My mum has been doing our family tree for some years now, and she also has photos that need restoring. Thanks for posting this Steven, I may just be able to give my mum some help now!
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Old Jan 26 2010, 09:23 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone.

Samsara, I learned quite a few tricks from restoring that particular photo. One of the tricks is: if part of someone's arm/shoulder/whatever is missing find someone else with a similar arm/shoulder/whatever and use that as the source for the clone tool or healing brush(**). The trick seems to work well in most cases except for faces - you have to be very careful with faces because it's so easy to spot mistakes there. (I just leave the faces alone if I can't get them right. The more talented artists here may be able to do a better job.)

(**) P.S. I should add that this particular photograph was easier to heal because it is in black and white and full of people wearing the same uniform! If you have a colour photograph of people wearing different colours and shapes it becomes harder to find matching zones to use as your clone source. If you're lucky there will be something nearby.
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Old Jan 26 2010, 11:56 AM   #11
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Default Re: My photo restoration project

I wish I could answer your question about Gimp, Steven. Simply put, though, I haven't tried any restorations beyond color correcting old photos, so I don't know the answer. Best thing would be to download it and try it. Like I said, it's free. Just do a basic search...... or try

http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

I just updated my Gimp 2.0 to 2.6.8 with this site.

One thing I use for projects that Photoshop doesn't have, is the bucket fill tool. If you have an area defined by some kind of border that needs to be colored in, you select the bucket fill, set up the color, and click on the area to be colored. Saves paintbrush, pencil, or airbrush time. The two dragon patterns I've put up in my Collectors' Marketplace thread were colored with the bucket fill tool.

Another free program is Paint.NET. It has a very interesting pencil sketch tool in it. Turns a photograph into a picture that looks like it was drawn with a pencil.
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Old Jan 26 2010, 12:02 PM   #12
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Thanks Draco.
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Old Jan 26 2010, 06:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: My photo restoration project

Draco, PS has the bucket fill tool. But it might be hiding behind the gradient tool. If you do see the gradient square (going from black to gray) in your left hand standard palette, point your mouse on it and keep the left mouse buttin pressed. You will notice a little menu pops out of the square, one of the choice is the fill bucket

Other buttons hide several functions too, a very important one (the ruler) is hiding "behind" the color picker for instance. With the ruler you can e.g. straighten horizons (one of my pet peeves with pictures).
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Old Jan 26 2010, 06:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Draco, PS has the bucket fill tool. But it might be hiding behind the gradient tool. If you do see the gradient square (going from black to gray) in your left hand standard palette, point your mouse on it and keep the left mouse buttin pressed. You will notice a little menu pops out of the square, one of the choice is the fill bucket

Other buttons hide several functions too, a very important one (the ruler) is hiding "behind" the color picker for instance. With the ruler you can e.g. straighten horizons (one of my pet peeves with pictures).
Why, there it is! Thanks, Hans!
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Old Jan 27 2010, 02:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco View Post
I wish I could answer your question about Gimp, Steven. Simply put, though, I haven't tried any restorations beyond color correcting old photos, so I don't know the answer. Best thing would be to download it and try it. Like I said, it's free. Just do a basic search...... or try

http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

I just updated my Gimp 2.0 to 2.6.8 with this site.

One thing I use for projects that Photoshop doesn't have, is the bucket fill tool. If you have an area defined by some kind of border that needs to be colored in, you select the bucket fill, set up the color, and click on the area to be colored. Saves paintbrush, pencil, or airbrush time. The two dragon patterns I've put up in my Collectors' Marketplace thread were colored with the bucket fill tool.

Another free program is Paint.NET. It has a very interesting pencil sketch tool in it. Turns a photograph into a picture that looks like it was drawn with a pencil.
Can you downloaded with Firefox?
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Old Jan 27 2010, 03:48 AM   #16
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Yes, Ginny, you can download programs with any browser.
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Old Jan 27 2010, 04:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenB View Post
Thanks everyone.

Samsara, I learned quite a few tricks from restoring that particular photo. One of the tricks is: if part of someone's arm/shoulder/whatever is missing find someone else with a similar arm/shoulder/whatever and use that as the source for the clone tool or healing brush(**). The trick seems to work well in most cases except for faces - you have to be very careful with faces because it's so easy to spot mistakes there. (I just leave the faces alone if I can't get them right. The more talented artists here may be able to do a better job.)

(**) P.S. I should add that this particular photograph was easier to heal because it is in black and white and full of people wearing the same uniform! If you have a colour photograph of people wearing different colours and shapes it becomes harder to find matching zones to use as your clone source. If you're lucky there will be something nearby.
Thanks for the info Steven, I will let my Mum know. I think she will find this thread quite informative, and certainly relevent to what she is doing. She is no 'artist', so lucky for her, all of her photos are black & white!
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Old Jan 28 2010, 12:19 AM   #18
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WOW!!! Steven...your photo restoration is fantastic and I sure that your folks
really appriciated all your hard work for them. I would love to get Martin interested
in something along these lines...as I also have a ton of wonderful old photos that
aren't in the best of shape. Thanks for all the good tips and ideas in this direction.
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Old Jan 30 2010, 08:22 AM   #19
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Thanks for the compliment Lady Maelin. Restoring photographs needs a combination of artistic talent and technical wizzardry, so I think you and Martin would make a really good team.

Here is another example of an underexposed, badly abused and faded photograph. This time it we happen not only to have a family photograph, but also a social record of life in 1960s Britain. The picture shows my sister and I in our local neighbourhood shop in 1963 - before the era of supermarkets and shopping malls. You can see some classic British products on the shelves. Original picture:

and restored picture:


For this picture I not only had to use the clone and healing brushes to repair it, I also had to use the gradient filter and burn tools to darken the most faded parts of the photograph at the bottom. I also increased the contrast to try and remove the fading and show more of the details.
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Old Jan 30 2010, 01:43 PM   #20
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That truly amazing work.
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Old Jan 30 2010, 02:48 PM   #21
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Good work and an absolutely gorgeous photograph!
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Old Feb 1 2010, 12:50 AM   #22
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Awe Steven...you and your sister are so very cute as little children. I love old photos like these, that show an everyday part of our lives in the past...it's great to do the *Do you Remember those game*.
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Old Feb 1 2010, 05:08 AM   #23
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Your sister wasn't on Desert Island Discs last week was she?
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Old Feb 1 2010, 06:20 PM   #24
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Thanks Lady Maelin . I also have some even older pictures showing my parents as little children. Some of those are so faded you can hardly see what's on them, and others are so well preserved they look like they were taken yesterday. Ironically, it's the favourite photos that have faded. All that display and attention hasn't done them any good, but the ones stuck into an envelope or album and forgotten are the best preserved.

By the way, Samsara, I should have said earlier that if you can get your hands on the negatives for any old photographs you want to restore, that's the best place to start, if you have a scanner capable of handling negatives. They are less likely to have been handled or exposed to light over the years, and they tend to be stored in protective sleeves. I don't think any of the negatives of these really old photos have survived, so I am having to start from the prints. (I restored a photo of my sister on her 15th birthday from the negative, and the difference between that and the old print was amazing. I sent her a copy and she thought it was a picture of someone else taken more recently. It was my niece who spotted who the real subject was - she noticed the old fashioned clothes. )

P'ter, no my sister has never been on Desert Island Discs. You met my sister briefly in Llantrisant last year when you went there to see Mike and Tania.
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Old Feb 1 2010, 06:38 PM   #25
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Very funny P'ter - no, my sister-in-law is not a professor of classics!! Not every Beard is a relative... ;-)
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Old Feb 2 2010, 12:45 AM   #26
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Very well done!
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Old Feb 2 2010, 06:21 PM   #27
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Steve: so I did; but she could still have been a Cambridge Classical Don for all I knew.

Lanen: I know that, although I was at school with a Jennifer Joan Beard who was in the astronomical society with me.
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Old Feb 4 2010, 10:25 PM   #28
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[QUOTE] By the way, Samsara, I should have said earlier that if you can get your hands on the negatives for any old photographs you want to restore, that's the best place to start, if you have a scanner capable of handling negatives. QUOTE]


Thanks for the tip Steven. Unfortunately we do not have any of the negatives....
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Old Feb 11 2010, 02:48 PM   #29
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GIMP is very good and equal, if not better than PS.
There's even a Windows version!

http://www.gimp.org/
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Old Feb 11 2010, 09:55 PM   #30
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GIMP is very good and equal, if not better than PS.
There's even a Windows version!

http://www.gimp.org/
Furthermore, like I said, it's freeware!

I use Gimp to create my scrollsaw patterns from pictures.
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