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Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

Critique, Please...

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  #1  
Old 03-20-2005, 03:47 PM
CJ Max CJ Max is offline
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Critique, Please...

I've done some restoration work on some tintype images from a recently discovered family album. The images posted to date are from the 1870's. Most of the originals are in a rather poor state of preservation.

I'd appreciate your taking a look at them and then giving me a critque; however, please, don't just criticize as that won't do anyone any good. Do suggest how to make the improvements in PS CS, including the steps.

http://www.pbase.com/cjmax/photo_restoration

Thanks,

Cliff.
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2005, 07:20 AM
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Caitlin Caitlin is offline
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Without having the original images it will be hard to make any really contructive comments, as we don't know what material you have to work with.

I noticed that someone on your guestbook had commented on the colouring of the photos - I am also a fan of keeping something of the 'look' of the period - even if it is colouring there tends to be an accepted style to an age of photo that maintains that period look. Sorry if this seems like a criticism, but it might be worth exploring a more muted colouring - be it sepia, or more subtle colouration. (Unless the original tintypes had this blue colouring?) I'm particularly thinking that the rosy cheeks seem a little out of place on some of those stern old gentlemen...

Several of the photos have very little details in the eyes - I guess they have faded away on the originals? If you can boost up the features in this area it would make many of the people less 'deathmask' like.

One last point - It looks like you have had to replace the backgrounds of many of the photos - if you could add in some noise or texture they would blend in a little better with the portrait - for instance the image of Christopher Colin Johnston, 1855-1936 is one of the most sucessful because of the drapping in the background.

I hope some of these comments are constructive!
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:29 AM
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Caitlin Caitlin is offline
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I must appologise Cliff - I see that in fact there are 'before' and afters for some of those images.

I think that the issue of sepia and the rosey cheeks is a key one though. The rosy cheeks have a more subtle effect on the original sepia image - they seem a little more stark in blue grey. Another thing I noticed - the picture of the woman and her daughter on the second page - you've done a great job removing all the damage, but I think you may have boosted the contrast up a little too much so areas are a bit blown out and thereby lost some of the subtle detail?

I'm a beginner around here so please take my comments in the spirit of shared learning with which they are intended!
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Old 03-21-2005, 09:21 AM
CJ Max CJ Max is offline
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Criticism is what I asked for...

Criticism is what I asked for. Thanks. It's much appreciated. If I wanted to hide behind my ego, I'd have done that, but then I'd have been a "very slow learner". lol.

The hand tinting is a difficult, original, "add-on" by the original photographer, figure-out-what-to-do-with situation. lol. If you get my drift. As soon as I corrected in Levels to get rid of the "yellowing effect due to aging", the red cheeks just jumped out. The images are much more contrasty and the shadows darker then too. I actually adjusted to the left the slider to improve the brightness and bring out some of the lost details, anywhere from 1.06 to 1.18 . The problem though is as you mentioned - the details in the shadows still tend to get lost. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to keep the shadow details. Perhaps I need to try the eyedropper on some white areas that aren't as white? I've tried that, but still didn't get much improvement. Anyone? I'll take another look through Eismann's book on Restoration, but as I recall, that was the only suggestion that she had too, at least in the version that I have.

I also took the Healing Brush Tool (set on #5) and toned the red cheeks down while getting rid of some of the emulsion defects after removing the yellow in Levels first. The question then becomes, "How much intensity does one remove from the hand tinting?" The originals are all over the map. Some is barely evident until the yellow is removed in Levels, while on others it just glares out at the viewer. Seeing as the tinting was done by hand, my thought is that the originals were probably "all over the map" too.

Most of the originals look as if they were black & white to start with - or at least the hard copy photographs that I have of the originals. The owner, my new-found cousin, isn't about to let the originals out of her hands - and I don't blame her. Plus, she's in Michigan and I'm in Texas, so that precludes a Sunday afternoon drive to visit and view. There are only about 4 or 5 that are a brown tone overall.

Well, thanks for the feedback. It's much appreciated. It gives me something to look for and work on.

Back to the drawing board - or in this case PS CS!

Cliff.

Last edited by CJ Max; 03-21-2005 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Made an error in reporting what I had done to correct a photo defect.
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Old 03-21-2005, 11:00 AM
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Flora Flora is offline
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Hi Cliff,

I think your restoration method is great: very clean and accurate ... (my aim in restorations too!)

Where I'd do things slightly differently, and I see Caitlin has the same view for a couple of them, is in the following points which, for me, are the golden rules of all my restoration jobs on old pictures:
  1. Restore = try to bring the picture back to the time it was taken, adding and changing only what absolutely necessary and careful to keep it as natural as possible and as close as possible to the original.

  2. Focus on the main point.

  3. No mixing grayscale and color.

  4. Yes to lightly desaturate and blur the background if this helps to make the main subject 'pop' out more.

  5. No high contrast.

  6. Yes to balance and enhance lights and shadows to keep an overall 3D 'feeling'.

  7. No flat, smooth 'brand new' background.

  8. When changing the background is necessary, try to keep the new one as close as possible to the original in colour and/or contrast ... Be very careful to the 'transition edges (not your problem since, for what I've seen, you do it very, very well) ... Use a gradient instead of a 'flat' solid color ... match the grain of the new background with the grain of the subject to be pasted to avoid the 'tampered-with/pasted' look.

That said, after the 'clean-up', I did the following:
  • Worked on different areas separately.

  • Used Curves and Levels to balance shadows/highlights and adjust the contrast ... (in your restoration, the dark parts of the 'overcoat' are solid black and have lost all the details...).

  • Loosely selected the man's head and run Brightness&Contrast on it to enhance it ..(strangely it was the most faded feature already in the original...).

  • Used Hue&Saturation to decrease the saturation a bit.

  • Created a soft, dark (colour sampled from the picture) vignette around the edges to further enhance the subject.
Please, keep in mind that this is only my opinion/method and that, at the end, if you do this professionally, the customer opinion and satisfaction are the main factors to be taken into consideration....
Attached Images
File Type: jpg F_39350512.jpg (97.6 KB, 26 views)

Last edited by Flora; 03-21-2005 at 11:12 AM.
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  #6  
Old 03-21-2005, 11:46 AM
CJ Max CJ Max is offline
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OK, now...

Flora,

OK, now for some questions.

I used Levels & feel fairly comfortable with it. Curves? I haven't gotten to that...yet. So, I gather that that is my next "level" to master. The only "curve" that I'm on is the "learning curve", but I'm enjoying it.

I took a look at the photo of the original that I have. I really don't see that much "fading" in his face (may be it's just me) considering some of the information that I have: 1. He was very fair with red hair and 2. being fair he always wore a hat which would keep the sun off his face but not his hands which I would expect to be slightly darker. This may account for your surprise at the perceived "fading" of the head in the image. That being said, I do like the slight darkening that you added to his face.

Red Robin's was the first image that I worked on, and I did "kill" the background rather successfully :-) lol. I posted one last night that is somewhat of an improvement - the image of Christopher Colin.

Your comments are much appreciated. Your example is even more appreciated. I much prefer it to my first effort (promise to improve!). Now, back to the drawing board...

Cliff.

Last edited by CJ Max; 03-21-2005 at 11:53 AM. Reason: omission, punctuation error
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