Restoring old and damaged photos

Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
I have been asked by a relative to improve and print an old photograph. I started by photographing it and converting the RAW file to jpeg. I am now working on it with Photoshop, using the few tools I know a little about.

My results are shown below, with "before" on the left and "after" on the right:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I have been using the Spot Healing Brush tool in Content Aware mode. I can probably heal almost all of the blemishes with this tool, but it is getting tedious. Is there some way to sample a spot on the background (away from the face) and use that color to paint in the background on a fairly large scale?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Messages
4,737
Hi Pa

can you post a full size original please and perhaps people here can give it a go?

Best wishes

Ray
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
can you post a full size original please and perhaps people here can give it a go?

Best wishes

Ray
I can do that Ray, but I hesitate for two reasons:

1) I hate for other people to invest a lot of their time in my project;

2) I want to use this project as a learning exercise. I don't want someone to present me with a finished product with no explanation of what they did.

Convince me anyway. :wink: :smile:
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,880
Location
UK
Hi Pa
This is one method that you may want to try, there are better more complicated ways e.g. creating a mask to isolate cracks and fill automatically. However this method is reasonably easy to do although still a lot of manual work involved.

Hopefully the image should help as a rough guide and my comments why I went this way should I hope be helpful.

1. First layer curves to equalise the RGB and get a better contrast
2. Channel mixer layer. I do not want the awful colour of the original (can add back later if required :smile:). We do not need the blue channel as this is the noisiest so set the figures R=50 G=50 B=0.
3. Copy this work to a WIP layer and just select the large areas of damage over the image and use the Patch tool to select and replace with less damaged areas.
4. To save getting distracted tyding up the background destroy it with the Dust and Scratch filter (or if you have it the Polaroid D&S filter) after creating a mask to protect the person. My thinking here is the background is of no historical interest so make life easy on yourself :smile:
5. You may notice on the mask I have also painted with a slightly lighter brush which helps in hiding some of the marks on the jacket utilising the blur from D&S filter.
6. Final curves layer to get just a bit more contrast
7. Sharpen layer overdone to highlight extra work required.

Still plenty of clean up work to be done and sepia tone if you feel appropriate. Just one way that you might want to consider this did not take as long to do as actually writing up the steps

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
Thanks, Tony, for all your good work and your detailed explanations. You have made some choices for the final appearance which I am not sure the owner of the photo would approve, but I will see what she thinks. Certainly I know how to improve contrast and remove the sepia tone, but I was trying to be true to the original.

The main thing I was hoping for is what you explain in your step #4. Can you explain how you created the "mask to protect the person"? Did this require a detailed application of the lasso tool or something like that?

Thanks again.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
3,880
Location
UK
For a quick and easy selection I used the Quick Selection tool (same menu as Magic wand tool) - it works best if you have increased contrast first. Just position the tool inside the object of interest and click and drag to select. If you select too much you can run over the area again and holding Alt key you will subtract from the area. You will also need to invert the selection either using Select Inverse or if you have already applied to a layer select the mask and use Ctrl+I.

I can understand that my choice for final appearance may not be correct or desired but my thoughts were to first get decent contrast back and rid of the age staining that I think has occurred. The original could well have been sepia toned and then depending on paper type either bromide (colder tone) or chloro bromide (warmer tone) apply tone to taste - I suspect you already know this but :smile:. There is a Sepia Action in the default actions in PS which applied to left and I just played with curves to try and mimic how a chlorobromide paper may have looked - not quite right but somewhere in the ballpark maybe?
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Messages
4,737
Hi

I gave it a quick try to test with heal, patch and clone....Obviously nowhere near right as only tried a while but I think with patience that is the process to use.

I got this far....have a psd file if you need.

Best wishes

Ray

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
Looks good, Ray. Thanks for posting. I'll have to study up on what you mean by heal, patch, and clone, though I do have a general idea. I used Tony's suggestion (#4) on the background and like the result. Now I just have to get the dandruff off the guy's suit coat.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
9,532
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Obviously this needs more work with the spot healing brush and clone stamp.
Pa, if you like this and are interested in a tutorial by phone, let me know.
This took ten minutes so far.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
Annandale, VA
Fascinating! As a geezer I have a lot of old images which need resurrection. Is the Cafe a great place, or what?

A tutorial for those of us who only have a smattering of Photoshop experience would be a godsend. If we put together one we could make it permanently available to the membership.

Thanks guys!
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
3,019
Location
Iowa
I'll give this a shot when I get home tonight. I love restoring old pics. I'm sure someone will beat me to a finished product before I get home.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
Please remember folks, I'm trying to learn from this. A finished product with no detailed explanation of the process, though appreciated, is of little use or interest to me.
 
Joined
May 3, 2007
Messages
6,452
Location
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Fascinating! As a geezer I have a lot of old images which need resurrection. Is the Cafe a great place, or what?

A tutorial for those of us who only have a smattering of Photoshop experience would be a godsend. If we put together one we could make it permanently available to the membership.

Thanks guys!
I've been working on a basic tutorial for a friend in Texas. I'll take a crack at this image. The time consuming part of a tutorial is capturing the intermediate steps of the image and, when posting here at the Cafe, saving the images to a site so they can be displayed here.

I'll try to get something basic up by tomorrow. Interesting challenge.
 

Growltiger

Administrator
Administrator
Joined
Apr 26, 2008
Messages
12,181
Location
Up in the hills, Gloucestershire, UK
I don't think this is just a photograph. I took at look at the original and I think it probably started as a photo and was then expertly touched up using a brush. You can see this on the eyes, beard and hair, quite clearly.

Have you got the original? Can you examine the eyes in detail with a magnifying glass?

So what we are looking at is the equivalent of Photoshop back then - a beautifully hand retouched image.
 
Joined
May 3, 2007
Messages
6,452
Location
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I don't think this is just a photograph. I took at look at the original and I think it probably started as a photo and was then expertly touched up using a brush. You can see this on the eyes, beard and hair, quite clearly.

Have you got the original? Can you examine the eyes in detail with a magnifying glass?

So what we are looking at is the equivalent of Photoshop back then - a beautifully hand retouched image.
I think you are right. Viewing the full size image at 300% in Photoshop it appears there was some retouching done. Very good job.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Messages
1,027
Location
Annandale, VA
. The time consuming part of a tutorial is capturing the intermediate steps of the image and, when posting here at the Cafe, saving the images to a site so they can be displayed here.

I'll try to get something basic up by tomorrow. Interesting challenge.
I've had Photoshop since version 5.0 and am embarrassed to say I only know enough to do the occasional thing I need accomplished. I don't want to seem ungrateful but the first description, while carefully done omits many, many steps which render the explanation usable to only the accomplished Photoshop user. Like a jet pilot saying 'take your aircraft off and I'll meet you at 10,000 feet on the 270 radial.' Um, how do I start this thing? :confused:

A tutorial would be super. Perhaps we could create a sticky Photo rehabilitation workshop thread?

Thanks for all your kind offers.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
I don't think this is just a photograph. I took at look at the original and I think it probably started as a photo and was then expertly touched up using a brush. You can see this on the eyes, beard and hair, quite clearly.

Have you got the original? Can you examine the eyes in detail with a magnifying glass?

So what we are looking at is the equivalent of Photoshop back then - a beautifully hand retouched image.
That is an interesting observation. I can see what you are looking at and I think you are probably right.

No, unfortunately I don't have the original. For several years a cousin of mine has had a project of restoring an old house in a small town in Southern Mississippi. We stopped by to visit them on March 2nd. This is a photo of the original owner of the house, a Mr. Judson, which now hangs in the hallway. They would like to get a good reproduction to hang there in place of this original, so I took it down and photographed it while I was there.

I'll e-mail my cousin with your suggestion.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
I've had Photoshop since version 5.0 and am embarrassed to say I only know enough to do the occasional thing I need accomplished. I don't want to seem ungrateful but the first description, while carefully done omits many, many steps which render the explanation usable to only the accomplished Photoshop user. Like a jet pilot saying 'take your aircraft off and I'll meet you at 10,000 feet on the 270 radial.' Um, how do I start this thing? :confused:

A tutorial would be super. Perhaps we could create a sticky Photo rehabilitation workshop thread?

Thanks for all your kind offers.
I have had Photoshop since version 2.0, and I'm not much further along than you are, Rich. I stopped at CS3 and have done everything with Nikon Capture since then. I bought PS 5.1 just a couple of weeks ago and took on this project as a learning exercise.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
21,066
Location
SW Virginia
Here is where I currently stand:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

I'm pretty satisfied, but I plan to work on the remaining blemishes a bit and also offer a black-and-white version. They want to print it at original size, which is 14 x 18 inches, so small details will matter.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom