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The Restoration Process

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  • The Restoration Process

    Okay, what are the basic steps to photo restoration?

    I’ve read a few posts and gone to a few web sites and I must admit that I am a bit confused. I know it all starts with a photo that needs restoring, and then you scan it and clean it up but then what?

    Once the photo is retouched do you just print it out or do you print it out and photograph it and the customer gets the photographed copy? I am confused because I have read posts talking about negatives, posts talking about photographing the final images and posts talking a about printing the image on quality paper, even posts talking about photographing the image before you scan it. So what is the basic process?
    Last edited by T Paul; 06-23-2002, 06:28 PM.

  • #2
    Well, lets see. First, photographing before restoration is just another way of scanning the image actually. They use digital cameras with mega pixels to get a file copy of the raw photo.

    Your out put is what you or your customer wants. Maybe they want prints from a photo finisher. In that case you need to save to disk/CD and bring it in to be printed. First find out what your local photo finishers need ie file type, size and format (zip,CD etc) Maybe you have a high end printer with archival quality prints and that is your ultimate out put. Some want digital files on CD. If you do that, never give away your PSD file. Always flatten and make a tif, or jpeg copy to put on their CD.

    As for the basic steps, each photo is unique and will need to be assesed to plot out the best plan of action. Generally you do the clean up first (cloning out damage, cutting and pasting etc) then color or tone corrections. If I want to color a photo, I usually do that toward the last. Always save your work often and when you are finally satisfied with your results do your sharpening.

    Another thing to do is keep your layers if you can and save a version of your PSD file so you can always go back and change things even if you think you are done and printed.

    Hope that gives you somewhat of what you were looking for.


    • #3
      Thanks DJ,

      This is a field I want to explore more and I am trying to learn as much as I can.


      • #4
        T Paul, Dj covered it very well. My usual method is to first examine the photo closely and try to determine an approx. age. Next what damage is present--stains,curling,cracking etc. Is there any writing on it-front and back. Is this writing significant to what ever is depicted in the photo or is the writing superfluous,perhaps the scribblings of child armed with some type of writing insturment. At this stage I am in contact with the customer and ask any questions I feel are necessary to get the feel of the photo. Next the scan, then the photo or negative is placed in an archival storage sleeve and either given back to the customer of stored in a fire resistant/waterproof box or safe. The scan is saved exactly as imported from the scanner. Next, pretty much what DJ said. Each photo presents different challenges so a "cookbook" approach is not either possible or advisable. Everyone develops their own technique,or "signature"if you like, which makes their work unique and thats part of the fun. There is a general outline of steps but nothing is set in stone. hope this rambling epistle is of some small help, Tom


        • #5
          Something I feel I must add here is the importance of referring back to the original during the restoration.

          More than once I've thought I was finished and I print out my first draft. Then I realize something I thought was a component of the image was actually a flaw of some sort.

          In one case I actually sharpened and restored a section that I soon found out was actually a dent in the photo not obvious from a straight-on view. It could only be seen by catching the glare of light off the surface (of course the scanner caught it).
          Learn by teaching
          Take responsibility for learning


          • #6
            Well, I think that was covered very well. The only thing I would add refers to what Debbie said about when people copy a photo instead of scanning. There are times when a photo, for some reason or other, does not scan well. This photo can often be copied as Debbie suggested, or it can be copied with a traditional camera. If a traditional camera is used, prints can be made that will usually scan better than the original. Keep in mind that there is another generation necessary when working in this fashion, and each generation loses just a little in quality. Now, if you have a film scanner, it would be advisable to scan the film instead of the print. This eliminates one generation (film to *print* to scan). If any of these methods are used, the copy technique must be good in order to assure a good quality end result.



            • #7
              Thanks Ed,

              I'm learning a little more each day! This is something I am seriously looking at getting into. My husband is military so we move around a lot. Hence, the job market is difficult for me. My background is web design, but we are currently living in a small town and the interest is limited. I am hoping if I branch out to photo restoration that I may be able to drum up some work, besides it is something I truly enjoy so it will be good for the soul! :-)


              • #8
                Forgetting the physical part of the process which has been covered in the previous posts I think restoration/retouching is the ‘art of the possible’ and if doing the work for recompense it becomes ‘the art of the possible within the cost framework’.

                If you are in business and don’t rigidly follow condition 2 then your either losing money or its become an aesthetic hobby and you shouldn’t be worrying about other peoples images but enhancing your own material.
                Last edited by chris h; 09-08-2001, 01:46 PM.


                • #9
                  Ah, well said!



                  • #10
                    I recently had someone request a general tutorial for restoring a photograph. I thought about it, tried to write it, and then I found this thread, which seems to sum it up nicely.

                    I especially like Tom's assesment which says

                    Each photo presents different challenges so a "cookbook" approach is not either possible or advisable.
                    There are a few basic steps that I do at the beginning of a restoration job that are the same no matter what I'm working on:

                    1. Check the channels for damage
                    2. Adjust my levels/curves
                    3. Check my actions palette for anything that might be helpful

                    After that, I decide on a course of action based on the image itself.

                    One thing I find that I have gotten away from as much as possible is massive amounts of painting and cloning. Sometimes they are still just plain necessary, but they are also huge black holes waiting to suck up all of my time, energy and profit.

                    What advice would you have for someone just beginning to learn Photo Restoration?


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