If you have some old photographs that are looking a bit on the delicate side, maybe it’s time to revive them and preserve them digitally.
The photo above was taken around 1927 and has a few creases, a few burnouts (little black dots) and has faded a fair bit over the years.
Above is the corrected version of the photograph, preserved digitally forever. Of course, you can reprint again and again as required.
Time taken – 30 minutes
Things you will need:
- Photoshop or similar
So how did we go about this then?
- Scan the photograph.
This is best done at around 600 dpi to preserve the image quality when we come to print it out again. However, please note that if the original image does not have any details in part of the photograph (e.g. the sun has faded it away) then the modified version will not have any details either (unless you add them yourself).
- Straighten the photograph – as no matter how level you put it in the scanner, it never comes out straight, for some reason :S
- Now on the photograph above I also altered the perspective and straightened the vertical and horizontal lines. This was a personal preference and had nothing to do with the age of the photograph.
- Convert to black and white. You could keep it in sepia if you wish, or even redo the sepia effect to make it consistent.
- Go to Levels and play with them. You will probably need to make the shadow area darker (this is at the bottom of the graph) and make the highlights lighter (this is at the top of the graph). As you move the levels, you will notice that the picture alters and if you feel you have made a real mess of it, just click cancel and it will be as it was. You can then try all over again.
- In Photoshop there is a Dust and Scratches filter, but be careful as these photographs do not have much detail in them anyway, and by using this you will make the photograph very soft indeed. Try it for yourself and see – it’s probably best at 1 pixel if at all.
- The Clone tool is going to be your main method of getting rid of little black spots and creases in the photograph. For this, you will want to zoom in a bit on the affected areas. Tip: if you want to move around the picture while zoomed in, press and hold the space bar. The cursor should now turn into a hand and you can click and drag the image around. Make the size of your clone brush a little bit bigger than the spot or the width of the crease that you wish to copy over. Now use your Alt key (Command key on a Mac) and select the area you would like to copy from. Then click on the affected area and start to paste it across.Tip: keep the opacity at 100% but feather at 60%. This will feather the edges, basically blending what you have copied with what is around the affected area.Now move around your whole picture and touch in all the affected areas.
- Save! (Actually, I tend to save as I go along anyway, just as I’m sure you were doing!)