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Mildew/mold on photo

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  • Mildew/mold on photo

    Hi All,

    I ran across this photo in our family mess of photos and am trying to figure out how to restore it in Photoshop CS5. I have others that part of the photo has been somewhat destroyed by what looks like the pox, but I assume is some sort of mold, breaking down of emulsion, or something.

    Does anyone have clever ideas of how to get through to the original enough to restore it? I am a poor artist so can't really just re-draw.

    I tried my best, the channels are all about the same. I then decided tried various filters and dodging and burning, all to no avail. It is still in progress, but I will attach were I am now also. It really is a bunch of skulduggery in that I superimposed heads of my grandmother and grandfather on the photo. Didn't have one for the baby.

    Thanks for any suggestions, or even, "at that amount of damage it will not be possible" -- either would help me!


    PS Oh yes, does anyone know whether it is common to have such outsize images in a photo? The father of the kid seems to be almost a ghost he is so far removed in size from the mother and son. "Would you mind standing back, sir, further, further, further"
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Mildew/mold on photo

    If you are trying to revive the first image back to how it looked originally then you should try scanning again but this time aim for a larger image size and a high dpi. It also could be worthwhile to make sure you are scanning in 24 bit colour as I get the feeling that this may have been scanned as greyscale - it just may help by recovering a little more information.

    If you cannot get a better scan with more info then IMO you are undertaking something which will prove very difficult and perhaps in the end prove impossible to get a decent end result.

    I do not think it common practice to have such apparent inbalance of size therefore I would suggest that this may be in part an illusion caused by the damage in the original.


    • #3
      Re: Mildew/mold on photo

      Thanks Tony,

      I will see if I have the original. It could be someone else scanned it in and sent it to me. But, if I do, I will re-scan and see what happens. I would have thought I would have noticed all that damage if I were doing the scanning, or is it just apparent after getting in digital form?

      If you look closely at the beginning photo, you see the shirt cuffs -- they are really close together, and the shoulders appear to be narrow too. Very odd. The faces are really about the same size, with mine being a bit bigger. I have stared at this forever, and finally decided it was a feminist photographer who considered men unimportant in the mother/son relationship. I have a great time making up stories about photos!


      • #4
        Re: Mildew/mold on photo

        I searched around and found the original, and re-scanned it. It turns out it was just a snapshot and someone had cut it in the oval shape and stuck it in the album. It doesn't appear that anything is on the photo per se but that it is the emulsion breaking down. To me, the green channel is the clearest, though I still haven't been able to get a decent photo out of it. From looking at it now I realize it was taken on my father's Christening day, and that gown he is wearing is the "family Christening gown" worn by at least 3 generations. I happen to have it in my possession. So, it would be wonderful if I could at least get grandmother and the baby who is my father in halfway decent shape. Probably grandfather was trying to escape back into the kitchen! It looks like they were on a porch.

        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: Mildew/mold on photo

          You would of course see the damage prior to scanning and after scanning it probably wont be worsened (the scanner will add its own measure of noise etc).

          What I am suggesting is that scanning in colour may give you just a little more useful information in one of the R G or B channels. Scanning in greyscale the scanner chooses the channel for you and discards the others. It may be therefore that the discarded channels hold information that could prove useful in the restoration.


          • #6
            Re: Mildew/mold on photo

            Hi Tony,

            I think probably you didn't see my latest post. I have gotten more detail out of it from re-scanning, thanks for sending me looking as I had scanned several years ago and just given up at that point.

            This time I tried scanning twice at different orientations and have sort of fiddled with the blue and green channels to get the best information.

            Don't know whether I will be able to bring out enough detail without getting the pox again! That discoloration seems to be just the emulsions breaking down.



            • #7
              Re: Mildew/mold on photo

              It is difficult to tell from the scan posted here as there is a lot of artefacting probably partly due to the size restrictions imposed here.

              You did not say what size the original is and what size you scanned for and the settings. If the original is relatively small then there may be benefit in scanning with high dpi settings to a final print size much larger than you intend. When finishing your corrections then you can downsize to final size, this may be helpful, but no guarantees. The damage maybe just too great.


              • #8
                Re: Mildew/mold on photo

                Tony, I had to cut it down quite a bit to get it there. I scanned at 600dpi. I just looked at what came through and it is pretty much the same as what I have. The original is 2x3, Actually I can see what is going on much better in the scan than in the original -- guess that says something about the condition of the original. You see people be able to come back from stuff that is obliterated with mold, etc. so somehow it just seems I should be able to enhance the remaining pixels enough that it is recognizable. Never like a picture taken just yesterday of course! Could be people who get things out of completely covered situations do a lot of painting?



                • #9
                  Re: Mildew/mold on photo

                  Judy, the original is quite small at 2x3 and it does look as though it is very damaged. I have no idea as I cannot see the original if anything will help you improve on what you have already got in the existing scan.

                  Scanning for a restoration is quite different than scanning a good print for copying where you are looking for an accurate match. Scanning for accuracy is not what you want here i.e. to match how the original looks now.
                  For restoration of a badly damaged image you should be scanning for information i.e. trying to get the last ounce contained in the image to make your work easier.

                  I have no idea if the following will gain you anything whatsoever, but if this was an image I was working on I would try this method:
                  • Place the cut out original on a black or dark background
                  • Scanner should be set for the highest setting uninterpolated. Do not know what your best settings will be but try if possible
                    • 48 bit colour (16 bit per channel)
                    • 1200 dpi or higher (as long as this is the scanners maximum without interpolation)

                  • Preview the scan and crop to include image only
                  • Adjust curves in scan software (if available). You will need to adjust the shadow and highlight ends to just touch at each end of the histogram
                  • Save scan as tiff - not jpeg

                  The above scanner settings will result in a larger file size of course, but you can be pretty sure that you will have captured all the information that your scanner is capable of. Then comes the task of editing contrast etc to get a pleasing result. After this then you can downsample a copy of your original large file for printing.

                  Good luck if you try this


                  • #10
                    Re: Mildew/mold on photo

                    Hi Tony,

                    I have just wasted another day trying to make silk out of a sows ear. Your asking the size of the photo really triggered something in me, though, as I realize what I am doing is taking a tiny 100 years old photo that was not a good photo anyhow, and is faded and has been mistreated, and expecting to blow it up to 4x6 or better and have it look good. Photos taken on bad cameras or at low resolution you cannot do that with, what was I thinking of.

                    So, I worked and worked, and the final result for my grandmother looked nothing like any of her pictures. It was a foreigner there. I realized I had a picture of her taken just a month later, so I grabbed that head and stuck it on her neck. I really need to do some tweaking, but I think this is as good as it will get at least until I have gained a lot more expertise and maybe not then, as I think there is only so far one can go with this. I also realized that at the size of the actual picture you can't see all the detail of the Christening gown that I thought so important. So, in a way it was a waste of effort except I have learned a lot, and I think the picture is respectable enough for the family album now.

                    Thanks for all your help -- I learned about scanning such pictures, and also to be more reasonable I think.

                    Attached Files


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