Category Archives: Photo Retouching

A Restoration of Buddy’s Family Photo from 1899

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Final restoration “before and after”

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:

Original 1899 photo scanned at 600 dpi.

I used the Photoshop Perspective Crop tool to remove the outer edge of the photo and clean up the framing.

Original scan cropped with the Photoshop Perspective Crop tool.

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: – 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!

Color correction with Levels layer and minor cleanup for initial determination if it was salvageable.

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.

Used Curves layer and additional cleanup to bring out mid-tones.

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.

Used Photoshop Hue and Saturation layer (Hue 41 and Saturation 15) with “Colorize” button checked

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!

Cleaned up details, added some “fake sky” to allow 8×10 cropping. Final restoration printed 8″x10″ on Epson 3880 professional wide carriage printer (uses archival inks and I used archival Epson Premium Matte photo paper).

Here is the final “Before and After” photo:

Final restoration “before and after.”


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!


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Susan’s Mom and Dad

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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!

Susan’s Mom and Dad – before and after restoration.
Susan’s Mom and Dad – 8″x10″ – restoration with Photoshop CC 2017 printed on Epson Premium Matte Paper with Epson 3880 printer.
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A Video Tutorial on Capturing a Vintage Image from the Internet and Restoring It in Photoshop

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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 composite image of the restored image captured from of Carol’s great-uncle Herman E. Carter.

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.

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Herman Carter – a WW1 Hero! A Restoration of His Posthumous Certificate of Honor from France

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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!

This is the final 13"x19" Document restored from the torn and damaged original pieces.
This is the final 13″x19″ Document restored from the torn and damaged original pieces.
Original scanned pieces.
Original scanned pieces.

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:

A before and after view of the Memorial Certificate issued in 1918 to the family of Herman E. Carter, killed in action in France on November 6th, 1918.
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Photo Retouching Samples

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I love photo retouching! Click the images to see an enlargement. I use PhotoShop CS4, an Epson 3800 professional printer and professional archival papers to reproduce these. I can print sizes as large as 11×17 (ask for a quote).

Pricing: $95 for first 8×10 print, $10 each for additional print.

Here’s the process.
1. Send me the original image
2. I email you a retouched photo for approval
3. When satisfied with retouching, pay $95 to PayPal or by check.
4. When prints and original arrive home, pay for prints if satisfied.
5. Enjoy new print for a lifetime!

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