RetouchPRO

Go Back   RetouchPRO > Technique > Photo Restoration
Register Blogs FAQ Site Nav Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

General approach to old photos

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 09-19-2004, 06:18 PM
tamhas tamhas is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3
General approach to old photos

I've been having an exchange with the editor of the newsletter for a small historical society. The society has quite a large collection of old photographs, very predominantly black and white, gathered from various sources and periodically someone comes up with a photo which they won't contribtute, but which can be scanned and published. However, as one might guess, a lot of these photos are in less than stunning condition and/or weren't great photographs to begin with. They are often very low contrast and not particularly sharp ... not exactly F/64 material, if you know what I mean. Sometimes they are damaged, but that seems the least of the issues.

What I am looking for is some guidelines of typical ways to proceed on enhancing these as well as is reasonable. Fortunately, final print size is typically no more than 5-6" on the long dimension. I am using Photoshop CS.

The editor has been scanning these at anything up to 2400 dpi, although the copies I have gotten are more typically a 150-300ppi and consequently I have resized them 2X-3X to get a few more pixels to fiddle with. Going forward I could expect to have higher resolutions.

The best general approach I have come up with so far, in part from some input on another forum, is to starting with the unsharp mask. I have tried two approaches. One is a 300-400% change on a radius of about 1.5 pixel with a threshold of 1 and the other is a two stage approach with an initial sharpening of about 50% on 5 pixel radius and then a 200% on 1 pixel, both threshold 1. This second technique has some advantages for smoothness, but depending on the print and the specific values can result in the graininess typical of multiply sharpened images.

Then I follow this with either auto contrast or equalization, most the former, but a couple seem to work better with the latter.

Then I will typically use levels to clip off a bit from each end, especially if there are any long tails, and giggle the center for the best effect.

Occasionally I will add in a little extra contrast or soften things with a little dust and scratches.

If there are areas needing burning, I will do that before the sharpening. Likewise any cropping of borders and such.

I will finish up with a bit of cloning to get rid of defects and artifacts.

Some sample before and after images can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/tamhas/tests

All suggestions welcome.
Reply With Quote top
  #2  
Old 09-19-2004, 08:03 PM
mdavis mdavis is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Missouri
Posts: 39
Smile

I think it depends on what you are trying to show with the finished images. If the dust and scratches and blemishes are meant to be left as a "patina" of ageing, then they are fine images.

On the other hand, if you are trying to obtain a "new" look for the photos, each of them could take hours (days?) of hand work to re-create the image behind the flaws.

In general, two moderate applications of unsharp mask are better than one strong application. Each photo will react differently depending on its scanned resolution and on the original sharpness. But remember also that application of sharpening will also make flaws stand out like a sore thumb, so do you fix the flaws, or back off on the sharpening, or sharpen away?
Reply With Quote top
  #3  
Old 09-20-2004, 02:41 AM
Leah's Avatar
Leah Leah is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London, UK
Posts: 518
I would be inclinded to fix the contrast first and then proceed to the sharpening. Also, particularly for shots of people, you might want to look into the "Smart Sharpening" technique described here -- it's likely to give you improved sharpness without the graininess.
Reply With Quote top
  #4  
Old 09-20-2004, 11:06 AM
tamhas tamhas is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3
I don't see any virtue in the imperfections, but in the context I also don't feel a need to be complusive about getting rid of them either. E.g., the picture of the boy ... sure I could get rid of the mottled appearance of the sky, among other things, but it would take a lot of time and it is never going to be a great image. On the other hand, having the image have some snap off of the page so that people will actually look at it, rather than having it look like a gray blob, that is worth the work. If there are some dramatic flaws, those I will typically clone out since they are distracting.
Reply With Quote top
  #5  
Old 09-20-2004, 11:17 AM
tamhas tamhas is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah
I would be inclinded to fix the contrast first and then proceed to the sharpening. Also, particularly for shots of people, you might want to look into the "Smart Sharpening" technique described here -- it's likely to give you improved sharpness without the graininess.
I will definitively follow your link ... but my experience is that fixing the sharpening first produces a better result. E.g., the aerial photo in the link I posted just went nuts with autocontrast done at the start, but giving it some edges first produced a much more reasonable result. Admittedly, this was a particularly muddy photo, so it could work differently with a different starting point.
Reply With Quote top
  #6  
Old 09-20-2004, 06:50 PM
Duv's Avatar
Duv Duv is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia
Posts: 1,213
You both may be correct. I would suggest a "minor" sharpening to start followed by your contrast improvements and then sharpened again at the end.

Dave
Reply With Quote top
  #7  
Old 09-20-2004, 07:15 PM
Flora's Avatar
Flora Flora is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Milan, Italy
Posts: 2,325
Blog Entries: 3
Hi tamhas,

Welcome to RP!

In addition to the excellent tips you got already, I would advise to balance lights and shadows while working on the contrast, (to prevent too bright highlights and/or too dark shadows, loosing too many details ... particularly in people's faces)..... For the sharpening I usually do what Dave suggested "a "minor" sharpening to start ........ and then sharpened again at the end...."

I worked a bit on one of your pictures concentrating only on that, (hope you don't mind). I used luminosity and shadows masks 'playing' with the Layers' Blending, Curves and Levels.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg F_33962955.Whiteside1.jpg (99.3 KB, 78 views)

Last edited by Flora; 09-21-2004 at 07:29 AM.
Reply With Quote top
Reply

  RetouchPRO > Technique > Photo Restoration


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help on technique for restoring photos that have gone pink cdrw6622 Photo Restoration 11 06-24-2007 06:51 AM
best approach? christo Photo Retouching 5 02-23-2007 08:51 AM
Help me to date some photos? Caitlin History, Conservation, and Repair 24 10-22-2006 11:56 AM
How-to send photos (FREE!) RokcetScientist Non-RetouchPRO Resources 0 05-31-2006 09:26 AM
Severe Colour Cast in Scuba Diving photos pm3009 Image Help 8 06-29-2005 01:53 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.
Copyright © 2016 Doug Nelson. All Rights Reserved