Registered: October 2004
I'm somewhat embarrassed to post this given the great work others have done on this image. But, this was kind of a breakthrough for me so maybe it will encourage others who doubt their capabilities. I used Elements 2 with Richard Lynch's hidden power tools.
De-colored to work with just the tone. Then...
Using ideas from Tim Edward's excellent de-crack tutorial, I did a gross repair of the creases & tears. High pass filter ~2.5. Curves converted this to b&w forming a decent mask. Converted mask to selection, expanded a few pixels & feathered 1 less than expanded. "Filled" the cracks 1st with median filter ~ 6 and then with minimum filter at 1. Likely I ended up cloning &/or smudging over most of these repairs, but this improved the image enough for me to cross the psychological barrier I was having of "this is too hard for me - I can't fix it". I had already thought of the high pass filter as a mask for cloning, but was getting nowhere.
Repeated the above process with much lower setting on high pass & inverting the filtered image to mask all but most of the dark spots. Repaired these with the median filter. Used Curves (darkening) with a high contrast tone mask to even out the overall tone, especially the girl's lower right lip & chin. Levels to bring the contrast back up. Ran the Despeckle filter several times. Ran dust & scratch filter, masking this layer with black & painting the mask with white to fix most of the remaining "dust".
Used dodge, burn, & smudge tools to repair / even out tones on the girl's face, arm, leg, foot, & dark area of her shorts. Separated the girl & background on different layers. Continued repairs on her skin, cloning in the ruined knee, left arm, right wrist. Merged down. More dodging & burning. Finished with small selections Guassian Blurred and adding back a small amount of noise. Used a masked Curves layer to even out the tone in the girl's face which seemed kind of blotchy after the above work.
Used sharpen tool on the girl's eyes, mouth & nose. Painted in a hint of teeth on a separate layer. Added a masked curves layer to lighten the lower part of her shorts, finally getting the tone matched to the upper part. Duplicated the girl layer & erased all but her clothing. Changed this layer to overlay mode & reduced opacity to effect some 'laundering'. Used the dodge tool on this layer to further improve the clean look. (This is the first time I've done much with dodge, burn, or smudge; this challenge gave me lots of practice with these tools.)
On the background layer, cloned over the "repaired" cracks to a new layer. Merged down & smudged the repairs to blend them better. Ran the smudge tool over the rest of the sky backdrop to make it uniformly smudgy & blurred. Cloned a couple large patches to repair the grass in the central foreground. Sampled some color from the original picture & filled a new layer with it in "color" mode. Did similar for the 'frame', but in normal mode & added noise. More cloning work on the background layer to fill in remaining large gaps to the 'frame'.
This cost me most of a night's sleep, but in the end produced an image I'm happy with. I initially thought this was way beyond my capabilities & have learned a lot along the way. There's much that could be improved still, I'm sure, especially the clothing, which others on this forum have repaired with stunning results. However, I'm at a loss for "how to" at this point.