Registered: July 2006
This image was one I thought could be finished up fast. How wrong I was! Learned a lot doing it, though.
The color was nice. From the time period and my very shaky comprehension of photographic history I thought it might even have started out as a sepia tone. So I did most of my work in the existing color. Mistake! There's a reason for all that advice to convert monochrome images to grayscale first. Manipulation in RGB does funny things to colors and in the end it had to be converted and re-toned anyway.
I didn't have a clue what the decorative element on the left background could have been, but the frame shape (if it was a frame) looked oriental-ish - which sort of seemed consistent with the period. A piece of bamboo image from stockxchange.com replaced whatever was in the frame thing.
Process: Selected out George, Mildred, and the chair (used the magnetic lasso on the green channel and refined the mask by painting in quick mask mode) and put them on a layer by themselves. This layer is where all the hard work was done. Then made a layer for the whole floor and baseboard - didn't bother to remove all the feet because they'd be covered up. Motion Blurred all the little white spots to oblivion.
Next layer was a whole new wall, filled with a gradient between dark and light values eyedropped from the original. Some trial and error here that wouldn't have been needed in grayscale. The wall selection was the inverse of the floor selection. Next time they will overlap - i.e. the wall will go to the floor behind the baseboard.
Finally built the artwork up from three layers - frame background (normal), frame midground (normal), and image (luminosity, low opacity). Because I was trying to maintain the color, the image had to be pre-toned and there was a lot of fiddling with color sampling. None of this would have had to have been done if I'd had the sense to start in grayscale. Ordered the layers from back to front (wall, then floor, then artwork, then figures).
Went to work on the George and Mildred layer. Reduced most of the spots and paper texture as follows: Gaussian Blur, save snapshot, undo blur, paint with 30% opacity history brush (source blurred snapshot) first in darken mode, then in lighten mode, avoiding edges. Heal/patch/clone away remaining spots. Took a LONG time.
After the layers were done it was time to adjust tonality and sharpen. Here's where conversion to grayscale became necessary. All sorts of odd artifacts showed up otherwise. Used a Levels adjustment layer after darkening Mildred's face just a tad, then ran a gentle unsharp mask on a copy of the merged visible layers, painting away a few sharpening artifacts on its layer mask. Added a neutral noise layer, then sepia-toned. Done.