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Eliminating the "Fuzzies" from old photos

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  • Eliminating the "Fuzzies" from old photos

    While I've admired and learned a lot from this forum, I've hesitated to ask the "big guns" for help until I really needed it. Obviously, that time has come! I'd appreciate your thoughts on how to get rid of "the fuzzies" in this photo. By this I mean the noise/blotchiness throughout the photo, most noticeable on the dress and pants.

    First basic question, what is a more appropriate term than "the fuzzies"?

    Second, of course is how to minimize them?

    In other photo's I've typically use this basic approach:
    1. Find the channel with the best appearance.
    2. Snaphot, Median, History brush to paint back in desired details.
    3. Painting over areas such as the dress to have a more uniform appearance.

    However, in this case, "the fuzzies" are prevalent throughout and my solution doesn't seem to efficient. In additon, I love the detail - fuzzy as it may be - on the left side of the photo and want to preserve that as much as practical.

    Would appreciate your thoughts.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    There are a couple of techniques I've been using recently to overcome blotchiness:

    1. Create another "image," perhaps the same size as the image you're working on. Fill it with 50% grey and add an appropriate level of noise.

    Use the center of this 2nd "image" as the source for the healing tool. Carefully size the tool on the destination image to help blend the blotches, using the grey image with noise as the source "texture".

    This technique, of course, will obliterate the texture on the destination image, but it's handy for an expanse of wall, sky, etc.

    2. Add a layer containing 50% grey above the blotchy layer. Set it to "Overlay" blending mode. Set your color swatches to about 40% and 60% grey. Use a soft brush at about 10% opacity to selectively lighten or darken parts of the image by painting on the 50% grey layer.

    This has the advange of not affecting the original image. It is easy to undo the changes. By keeping your finger on the 'X" key, you can easily toggle between darkening and lightening. When satisfied, merge the grey layer with the image layer. The percentages given, of course, are only guidelines.



    • #3
      You can go far with this image just by messing around with a Selective Color adjustment layer. Create one and then, at the top of the panel under the Colors drop down choose Neutrals. With neutrals selected experiment with its black, magenta, and cyan sliders to reduce the noise relative to the desired image. Do the same for Black. Ignore the colors it creates, you can desaturate that as the next step. That's all I did to get here, except to brighten it a little. You can see that the texture remains, the antique character remains, and all other flaws are easy to fix with clone tools.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        For noise I always use NeatImage (, but it blurs the picture a little (guess this isn't really a pro-technique ). So I added some high pass sharpening and some edge sharpening.

        Here the result, judge for yourself.

        Attached Files


        • #5
          I think the fuzzy's you are talking about are a reflection of what is called silvering on the surface of the photo. You can see it if you hold the photo at an angle to reflect light off of the surface. The light source that scanners use really reflect off of silvering, that reflection then becomes part of the image.

          To get a kind of ok scan;

          -scan it
          -flip it 180 degrees and scan it again
          -drag the second scan image into the first scan image
          -change top layer to difference mode
          -use free transform to flip top layer 180 degrees
          -push, prod and rotate until it goes black (it is now registered with the first scan), hit enter to keep transformation of transform
          -change mode from difference to darken

          The light is only on one side so this will minus out some of the reflection.

          For best results take a picture of the photo with a digital camera, if you are carefull to light the photo so that no silvering shows you will see past the reflection.

          This kind of image I find very difficult since the hazy fuzzy reflection becomes a insidious part of the detail of the image. I may think I have done a good job until I compare it with a digital copy negative, there is no comparrison.



          • #6
            First and foremost, thanks for your suggestions! My lack of response is strictly due to lack of time, not interest!

            Although sleep-deprived at the moment, I was intrigued by Roger's suggestion enough it give it a shot before I fell asleep at the keyboard. Interesting at first but once I tried it -


            Was stunned at the difference this made! Since the photo is not square, a true test will require some time in manipulation to perfectly match the images. However, in aligning a small test portion of the woman's dress, I was truly grateful to see the difference this seemingly simple technique made to the quality of the photo.

            At this point I'd have to say this is a mandatory "first step" in restoring photo's of this condition. THANK YOU!

            As a bit of trivia, this is a photo of my daughter's best friend's Grandma's father, possibly taken at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Its that kind of history which really fascinates me - and continues to motivate this ever-consuming hobby!
            Last edited by dpweber; 08-23-2003, 12:10 AM.