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Pete Donegan 11-24-2014 06:02 PM

More Authentic Photo Restoration
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Hi everybody! It's ages since I posted but I've just started on a job of restoration and I thought I would like to run some ideas past the experts on Retouch PRO to see what you think. I've been doing photo restoration for quite a few years now, but something has got me thinking. We use tools like the healing brush and patch tool etc, and at first it looks really good. You can't see the repair. But when you compare your work with the damaged original you see you've smoothed out some important detail! Does anybody know what I mean?
This is most noticeable on faces. I've found for detailed work, the healing and patch tools to be unpredictable for this kind of sensitive detail work. I find the challenge is not to make an unblemished face, but the face it was meant to be!
So I've found it to be more accurate and authentic (but slower) to use the clone tool with smaller dabs, and the paintbrush, sampling a colour from nearby. The aim being to not put any mark in that you can't justify. When I zoom out again, it looks to me a whole lot more "authentic". Does this make sense? I've been applying these "old school" techniques for a while now, and am more pleased than before. I am attaching my latest project/challenge as it is now, and when I'm done, I'll post the restoration for your comments!

Nezbitten 11-25-2014 02:21 AM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Sometimes when using the patch tool you can get a slight mark so either re-patch again or use the healing brush tool or clone tools or even the content aware fill or cut and paste a new area in and blend with layers. Also check if the Patch mode is set to Normal or Content Aware. If set to content aware switch it to "normal" its much better and iim not sure the content aware ever work well. see here for a comparison That's the point with Photoshop when one method does not work for your particular area you are trying to fix at that time, use what works and is most efficient. If the patched areas are very obvious you can blend the marks out with frequency separation. Alternatively sit back and see why these marks are happening in your working area and see if there is another approach such as setting a high setting on dust and scratches or using a median filter with some noise and blur. Match the grain by blur add noise and blur till you get the granular clump matching, the methods just continue... more than one way to skin a cat using Photoshop!

Pete Donegan 11-25-2014 08:03 AM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Many thanks! This is most helpful, and I will try these techniques out. Again, I'm sure many photo restorers out there have asked the same questions when dealing with damaged portraits, how do you retain or restore the actual features when there's so little to go on? Sometimes you look at your work when it's finished, and it's very smooth and realistic, but is it the face that it should be? I've also tried a "sketch layer" where I draw an outline of what is missing or partially missing, eg an ear, mouth, eye etc based on the information I actually have. I've seen so many examples where the portrait ends up looking like a doll!
Hope others have ideas too, and share their solutions! Thanks

byRo 11-25-2014 07:23 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Good advice from Nezbitten!

I get dismayed when people think that one tool / technique will solve all problems. Each has its own place.

I believe that one trait of a good restorer is in knowing which tool to apply in each case and, more importantly, being quick (and honest!) to realize when the chosen tool isn’t giving the required result.

All too many times folks will give more importance to the tool than analyzing the result obtained. You have to be your own worst critic.

Pete Donegan’s choice of image was very interesting. If you look at it zoomed out you can get a pretty good idea of how it should look when restored. Zoom in, however, and you’re overwhelmed by cracks and creases. A good restoration will take the “zoomed in” image and make it look like the “zoomed out” underlying image that our eyes/brain can pick out so very easily. That, for me, is the secret to restoration!

Pete Donegan 11-25-2014 09:04 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Thanks for your helpful comments byRo! I have just now been working on the image, and what you say is so true. If you zoom in on the eyes, there's no detail there, just shadow and cracks! But when you zoom out, yes, you can see more! I noticed this about the mouth area also, where there is quite a bit of damage obscuring the features. However, being careful not to just smooth it over, just sampling dots and painting dots, so to speak, I hope to slowly build up areas that are more authentic. And after doing a bit of this work, I zoom out and I think I can see teeth! Where I thought it was just shadow! This is the whole point of this posting really, because I get a lot of this work coming through, and I want to recreate the features as accurately as possible. It's something like police forensic work I suppose, where likeness is everything! Keep the thoughts coming. It's very interesting! By the way, I have to finish it in the next couple of days, so you can see the result!

byRo 11-27-2014 06:18 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Looking forward to seeing your results.
I would like to have a go at this one but I'm travelling now - back Sunday.

Pete Donegan 11-28-2014 08:10 AM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Watch this space!

Pete Donegan 11-28-2014 12:05 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
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This is the image after restoration! I keep working on it, but as we all know, you have to stop sometime, and I have tried to be true to what is actually there. I did use some artistic licence around the mouth area for instance, because there wasn't a lot to go on, and the area had to be filled! But as my friend pointed out earlier, when you zoom out of the image, you can sometimes see useful information that doesn't make sense close up.
As I was working on this project, I thought how much it is like the work of an archaelolgist who carefully and painstakeingly pieces together a broken piece of pottery for instance, and experts fill in the missing areas based on their experience. Very interesting!

Pete Donegan 11-30-2014 06:27 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
1 Attachment(s)
Sharpened version!

byRo 12-01-2014 04:25 PM

Re: More Authentic Photo Restoration
Great job Pete!! :bigthmb:

I tackled this for about half an hour last night and I can see how much work you put into it.


As I was working on this project, I thought how much it is like the work of an archaelolgist who carefully and painstakeingly pieces together a broken piece of pottery for instance, and experts fill in the missing areas based on their experience. Very interesting!
Yep, that pretty much sums up why I prefer restoring to retouching. ;)

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