Saturday, May 19, 2012

from the ashes...May 18 restoration

This is the image I worked with.... Stewart StG (St. George) is my ancestor. I'm not sure if he's the one standing by the car or the driver - I'll have to do some research.

Fortunately this one wasn't crispy like many of the other photos but it clearly has damage.

Under the car and in the bottom left corner there's discolouration from heat or water (or both). There's a fair bit of ash stuck to it all over. Plus, during the process of recovering it from the album, some of the image was torn off when the photo that was stuck to it was pulled away.

Tip for avoiding this, in most cases, is to soak the photos until they slide apart on their own.

Sometimes this isn't possible, like with this photo, because I wanted to preserve the album paper with the writing. If I'd put this in water I'd have lost the writing.

There are a couple of spots which are actually the paper from another photo that got stuck onto the image. These can also be removed with water or carefully scraped off. Sometimes scraping can cause further damage though so, in this case, I just left them and dealt with them by painting and cloning.

The first thing I did was save a copy of the file with a different name. I've had a few experiences when I forgot to do so, did lots of work and then lost everything and had to start again. Not exactly a fun moment! So save as and then save OFTEN!!

Once I was satisfied I was working with a copy I straightened the image using arbitrary rotation. It didn't need much rotation but it needed some. I also cropped off the bottom and the sides

Besides Saving OFTEN the other important and critical thing to remember is to use layers. I made a duplicate of the base layer so I could toggle back and forth to assess my progress. Then I got to work.

As well as being stained, torn and ashy the overall image was murky and had low contrast so I adjusted the settings using the levels menu. By adjusting each of the colours (RGB) individually I was able to achieve a higher contrast but retain the details. This brightened up the image and removed some of the colour cast I didn't want. At this point the image was true black and white.

Then, with healing brush and stamp tool in hand I went to work to remove the ash, glitches, blips, specks, dust, scratches and spots where the image had been torn completely away.

Under the car I noticed some of the discoloured stain was stubbornly sticking around so I sampled colour from another part of the image (colour that roughly matched the shade of the area I'd be working on) and then used the colour replacement tool to paint over the stain.

One of the urns on the posts was badly damaged by the photo being torn. To fix this I copied one of the other urns and pasted it onto another layer and moved it in place. The copy was a tad smaller to I scaled it up using the transform tool.

The roof of the building had some paper stuck on it which I needed to remove. Because the roof has a fairly sharp edge I made a selection around it to keep the edge straight. Using the clone tool I painted over the paper and recreated the roof. I also used the clone tool to fix the large tear in the upper right hand corner.

To get the sepia tone look I made another layer and filled it with a pale sepia brown, changed the blending mode to overlay and reduced the opacity of the layer until I was satisfied with the colour. The black and white looked nice and sharp but kind of took away from the oldness of the image. So sepia it is.

The final change I made was to invert the black page with white text so it's easier to read. And, obviously, I moved it from the top of the image to the bottom.

Here's the final result:

If you have photos that need to be restored and you need help with the restoration I can help you. Contact me to talk about options.

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