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Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

Where does one start

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  #1  
Old 06-12-2015, 03:51 PM
xgi93's Avatar
xgi93 xgi93 is offline
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Where does one start

What I have attached is a screencap of part of the image itself, a rather flimsy
3 1/4 x 4 polaroid b&w from about 1975. I hi-res scanned the photo, made a duplicate layer and am masking out the old background as a way of at least making a start. Everything looks like it was liberally splattered with white paint. I have never seen so much damage; I can't see enough clear areas to even start to clone-stamp-repair the faces or anything else. I am looking for technical advice, steps to be taken in whatever order, suggested tools/filters, etc. If my low-res attachment can be used to illustrate your suggestions/instructions, so much the better. I am not looking for anyone to do the work for me; anyone who can get me going in the right direction with the right stuff to work with I will be most appreciative of; I will happily do the actual work myself and check back with concrete results (or more questions!).
Thanks very much in advance to all who donate so freely of their time and expertise.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P&B wip crop.jpg (83.3 KB, 72 views)

Last edited by xgi93; 06-13-2015 at 06:17 PM. Reason: spelling, minor punctuation
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Old 06-12-2015, 04:45 PM
Doug Nelson's Avatar
Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I had limited success, but it might be helpful on the fullrez version: blur the image until spots totally filled in. Define entire image as a pattern. Revert. Use healing brush set to aligned and using the blurred pattern as the source. Darken showed the most promise for me. It looked totally unrealistic, but at least the tones were right. It basically boils down to painting at this point. You can add some noise at the end if necessary.

Remember you're going to be creating over 50% of the image from thin air. That's not really restoring, that's painting.
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Old 06-13-2015, 06:10 PM
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xgi93 xgi93 is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I followed Mr. Nelson's instructions to the letter using CS2 (I mostly use PSE 11 but the stuff he was talking about I'm pretty sure you can only do in the full version of PS) and saw everything exactly as he said it would appear, particularly the part about the tones being right when using the previously-created pattern with the healing brush on the image after reverting it. I also now understand what he meant by "you're going to be creating over 50% of the image from thin air. That's not really restoring but painting." While I'm not a complete tyro, I am nowhere near the skill level required to accomplish what Mr. Nelson has pointed out. For one thing I have zero drawing skills, which unfortunately equals zero painting skills. I have not the delicate touch or level of finesse needed to literally conjure up the almost-totally-obliterated facial features in this photo. In short, it's well beyond my abilities. As Clint Eastwood said in one (or was it several?) of his movies: "A man's got to know his limitations." This is one area where I now know mine.

That being said, are there any suggestions for perhaps an abstract, arty kind of approach to this? My thanks again to Mr. Doug Nelson for his advice; I simply wasn't able to act on it.
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:15 PM
skoobey skoobey is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I would start with some general DNB like this:
restore.jpg

It would be great if you had a reference in other images so that you can make sure they look like them. If you are a pro I suggest you take on a challenge if you've got the time, because you can never have enough practice. That being said, this is a job worth hundreds of dollars.

Last edited by skoobey; 06-14-2015 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:20 AM
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xgi93 xgi93 is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I'm not a pro, far from it. I've had a limited amount of experience with several dozen very old photographs I got thru the Library of Congress collections, but while I got fairly good at dealing with scratches, fingerprints, dust and the general ravages of age, I was in fact dealing with relatively easy stuff like architecture, locomotives and automobiles, and it was straight retouching, not the sort of nuanced reconstruction described by Doug Nelson. Compared to what I've seen the members of this forum do on this site, I'm a rank beginner; for instance, I don't even know what you mean by "general DNB" yet it's obviously something so basic you (correctly) assumed I would get it straight off with no further explanation. If you could please tell me what steps you took to do what you did in the sample you attached I will try to accomplish something. You can get as technical as you want; I know my way around PS enough (I sure do hope!) to follow what you say to do (though it would be best if you didn't use too many acronyms so I can be sure of exactly what you mean). Thanks very much for your advice and assistance.
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Old 06-15-2015, 12:12 PM
skoobey skoobey is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I can do better than that, here's the PSD (Dropbox).

What I meant by "general dnb" means not going into specifics, like is this tone really right or is this the actual 100% representation of that person(anatomically accurate), but fixing things overall so that the image looks clean(ish). Then I'd go into actual specific things like distinctive facial features hopefully by having a reference from other photos.

Last edited by skoobey; 06-15-2015 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:18 PM
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xgi93 xgi93 is offline
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Re: Where does one start

I see and understand. Thanks much, skoobey! I loaded your psd into CS2 and by clicking the adjustment layers on & off saw what you did and how you did it. I now have a definite point of departure after I get done with the masking out of the old background on the original image and defining (to the point I'm able) the edges of all three figures, who are actually visible from about the knees up with plenty of room left and right. It will be a lot of work, but I've got lots of time. The 2 young people are my brother and his wife, so I'm familiar with their faces; the man on the right is a Navy Captain (they were visiting his ship) but I figure the main thing I'll have to do there is work out some kind of clone & flip of his visible eye to re-create the obliterated one. I'm not hoping to make this look like a photograph again. There's just not enough left. What you've done for me is show me a way to fix things up so they at least look clean and clear, after which I'll see about an appropriate background and maybe an art-type filter overall. Thanks again to skoobey, Doug Nelson and Retouchpro.

Last edited by xgi93; 06-15-2015 at 10:20 PM. Reason: clarification
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