It was my privilege to be asked to attempt a restoration of a very faded photo by my long-time friend and work associate Buddy. I did a couple of pencil/watercolor drawings for him many years ago and he called and wanted to know if I could do a restoration of treasured family photo taken in 1899 in front of his home place. Here are a few progress photos and the final restoration. I made 20 – 8″x10″ prints on archival paper with archival inks on my Epson 3880 printer which he will be giving to his family.
The original photo was scanned by his cousin at his house and uploaded to a Dropbox folder I created to transfer files:
I used the Photoshop Perspective Crop tool to remove the outer edge of the photo and clean up the framing.
I first wanted to make sure the detail was there for me to even do the restoration, so I used a Photoshop Levels Layer to color-correct the photo. (I did a YouTube video of this process on a different photo. You can see this process here: https://youtu.be/eweMTaRN3qI – this is a restoration of a photo of my grandmother that I restored from one of her movie stills – she was in silent movies!) After seeing that Buddy’s photo really had a great deal of detail, I told him it was going to be a nice restoration project! I could even see the pattern in the girls’ dresses which were probably made from the same cloth by a seamstress!
The next step was to use the Curves tool to bring out the mid-range details. But there was still a good deal of discoloration and damage to the photo from dust, wrinkles and cracks on the surface.
In order to eliminate the discoloration, I used the a Hue-Saturation layer with the “Colorize” button to replace the color in the photo with a consistent sepia tone. I used Hue at 41 and Saturation at 15 settings. This is a great setting for antique photos and keeps the original look and feel of the photo. I wanted to keep the look and texture of an aged photo without the distractions and damage that kept the faces unrecognizable. At this point I did quite a bit of very close-in work with the Spot Healing brush, Clone Stamp, Content-Aware Move Tool and found that the Burn and Dodge tool was invaluable to bring up the very lightest of details in the faces. The pixel information was there and the Burn tool allowed me to enhance the darker shadows in the faces and the Dodge Tool allowed me to brighten the light areas of the faces.
Here is the final restoration. I added some “fake sky” at the top by adding to the “canvas” and then used the “Content-Aware Move Tool” to move some of the existing (cleaned-up) sky up to the top and fill in the blank area with “real sky” so I could print an 8″x10″ on the printer. I used the Archival Matte paper IPP setting to use non-glossy inks with Epson Premier Matte photo paper. If you have questions about the settings I used please send me a note and I will be glad to fill you in on what works for these older restorations. Finding out these settings has taken many hours of work over the years and many wasted tanks of ink and sheets of paper!
Here is the final “Before and After” photo:
Thanks Buddy! It was great being a part of bringing your family history to life!
Do you have a favorite photo you’d like to see about restoring? Please send me a message on the comment form on this post and I will get back with you!
I did a photo restoration for Susan, my son-in-law’s mother, of her mom and dad. This was from a very small wallet sized photo she had that was quite damaged. I wanted to enlarge it to 5″x7″ and 8″x10″ and retain the somewhat grainy look of an old sepia toned photo. Here is a side-by-side before and after. I love doing this and bringing back the life and character of the person’s loved ones!
My “Nana” was Francis Mann, who in her younger days starred in silent movies when the movie industry was located in New York. She and her sister, Alice Mann were both actresses in silent films with her sister becoming more well known with her roles as Fatty Arbuckle’s leading lady in films, acting alongside Buster Keaton. One was “His Wedding Night” available on Youtube. (She is the blonde with the wavy hair that appears with Buster Keaton in the first scene and throughout the movie.) “Auntie Alice” and “Nana” as we called them later when they were our Great Aunt and Grandmother lived in Hollywood, Florida in the 60s and early 70s and we would visit regularly. We lived with our Nana when I was a senior in High School and we visited on weekends with Auntie Alice. Mom told us stories of Fatty Arbuckle and how he’d come to visit with their fellow actors on Sundays and Arbuckle was famous for his chili. Unfortunately, there was a scandal surrounding Fatty Arbuckle that destroyed his career. Mom always contended that there was no way he did what he was accused of and he was finally acquitted after three trials. (Link to story here).
Here is a still photo from a movie set featuring my grandmother Francis Mann and an unknown actor that I decided to restore:
Here is a Youtube video showing the restoration process and the Photoshop tools used to rebuild the photo:
You can easily capture a vintage image from the internet and restore it with Photoshop and then create a Before-and-After photo. Here is a YouTube video I created showing how I did this restoration in about 10 minutes.
Here is a short YouTube video showing how I captured and restored Corporal Carter’s photo and then created a side-by-side image of the restoration.
This is my most ambitious photo restoration ever! I got this box of scraps from Carol’s mom from a drawer I opened when we helped her get ready for getting carpet installed. It is a posthumous memorial certificate for Herman Carter – Carol’s great uncle who was killed in World War 1 while sitting up in a tree. The war had just been declared over and the armistice signed, but the troops where he was didn’t know it (and the enemy didn’t know it). This is a labor of love and took many hours. The certificate was given by the French government to the U.S. soldiers who gave their life in the war and is signed by the president of France. I am not sure how to put the original back together but at least this print will be able to be framed nicely. I have tried to preserve the patina of the document. Also, it means a lot to me because my grandfather also fought in France in World War 1 and received the French Medal of Honor. I have the medal framed with the certificate which I got from my mom. My grandfather went to France when he was 17 and fought with the French before the U.S. entered the war. Maybe he and Herman knew each other! What brave men our country has had serving over many years and in many wars. And thank you to all the troops serving today!
Here is a YouTube video of the restoration project. You can scan forward if you want to see how I put together the pieces and cleaned up the document for printing:
I love photo retouching and restoration! I use PhotoShop CC (2014) and an Epson 3880 professional archival printer and archival papers to restore and reproduce your family photos or update damaged pictures. I will print several copies for you to give to family members. Email a scan, digital photo or even an iPhone photo of the original for a quote to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the process:
1. Send me a photo or scan of the image for an initial evaluation. You can then email or post a higher resolution image via Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox or another photo sharing app. Let me know how many prints and what size you’d like. I will send you a quote.
2. I will email you back a restored photo for approval.
3. When satisfied with retouching, pay by PayPal or by check. (cost is as low as $29.95 for an 8×10, depending upon the condition of the original)
4. When prints arrive, pay for prints only if satisfied.
5. Enjoy new archival quality prints for a lifetime!
A very good friend asked me to restore some treasured photos of his grandfather taken in 1906 – a postal worker in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A year later I finished them! There were more than a few challenges…some of which was the learning curve with photo restoration. As I took a step forward, I realized I needed to learn a lot more to proceed. I took a few courses, read some books, found tutorials at Lynda.com and finally felt satisfied with my skill level. I did enough trial and error with my Epson 3880 printer (high end digital archival quality) that I was abke to delivere 8 prints each of the five restored photos on archival quality rag paper. Here are the before and after’s of the restorations. So rewarding!