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When is a photo beyond help?

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  • When is a photo beyond help?

    Well this has been the week to end all weeks...that'll teach me to take a vacation.

    I've got a tintype that I've lightened to get the beginnings of a picture but my gosh the cracks. The picture is actuall peeling away and cracking away from the tin. I'm not sure whether there's much I can do without losing a ton of detail of which there isn't much to begin with. I've posted the picture here and it's titled "Evers":

    It might take a minute or two to come up as I left it in the size the customer wanted to give a better idea of the work ahead.

    I guess my question to all is when do you determine that a picture is beyond help and how much work do you put into it before making that determination?

    I find myself putting a large amount of time into a picture trying everything under the sun only to come to the conclusion that it is beyond help or the amount of time to restore it would be more costly than the customer is willing to spend after I've spent quite a bit of "no-money" time on it.

    I can't really charge a customer for my time if I can't get a decent picture for them.

  • #2

    I don't see "Evers" on the page. There are some others, but apparently that one didn't make it.



    • #3
      Sorry Ed,

      It might take a few minutes as I just uploaded it...hang in there.


      • #4
        I just clicked on the link in my initial post and it shows up on my screen, hope this is working and you can see it.

        Let me know of any problems.


        • #5

          Maybe I'm doing something wrong. I tried it again, but I can only see four images. Should I be able to see five?



          • #6
            Yes definitely should see five images...can't understand why I can see them and you can't.

            hmmmmm..... let me try posting the main page and then you can click over to it.


            • #7
              Chris W, What a neat old photo. If it were me, and I am stricly speaking in that vein, I would keep the retouching to a minimum. Filling in the "white areas" on the clothing etc, isolating the background and trying the Dust/scratch filter to reduce but not entirely eliminate the cracking and carefully using the blur tool or the history brush to soften the cracks on the man, contrast and tone adjustment, High pass sharpening(experiment with strength) then quit. I think that if you try to get every crack repaired the photo would loose the marvelous detail it has (clothing ,expression etc. and the genuine air of Historical nostalgia)and might end up too"soft" or blurred and begin to look "phony". Just my opinion. Sometimes leaving some imperfections actually adds to the glamor and attractiveness of an old photo.Also, unless there is No image data at all, nothing is hopeless, unless it is this response! Tom


              • #8
                Thanks for the input like this photo?...Well I have plenty more similar to it sitting here on my desk just waiting to be worked on.

                I'll give your suggestions a whirl and see how it ends up.

                I guess I think nearly all photos are workable it's just that not many people can afford the time it would take to make them look good and I sometimes find myself working on a photo a lot and charging a very very small amount....just a soft touch I guess.

                Thanks again for the input.


                • #9
                  Those photos I did on that photo site (the man at the bar and the Muscles) were cracked that severely also. If you still have some cracking after doing what Tom suggested, the you could try cleaning up the rest by using a very tiny brush and the burn or dodge tool to darken or lighten the rest of the lines until they disappear. It's a real pain and a time consumer so I would look for as many easy ways as possible. You have alot of areas with little or no detail so Tom's suggestion should take care of the majority of it. What about some of the techniques in Katrins book? the background could be done the same way she teaches in chaper 5. It looks beyond hope but it really isn't. It's just very time consuming. You will probably want to charge your top price range for this one. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.


                  • #10
                    I don't think that one is beyond help. It looks like you've got enough information to me. You do have your work cut out for you though, with all the cracks!

                    I think the hardest part of working on these really bad ones (for me anyway), is that I want to bring photos back to a reasonlbly good quality image, and get frustrated when I can't get satisfactory results every time. There has to be a point when we accept that that's as good as it's going to get, no matter who works on it.


                    • #11
                      I agree vikki,

                      I do try to over do sometimes I think as I see a bad photo and think it should look like it was taken yesterday.

                      I spend a lot of time on it and get frustrated when it doesn't clean up perfect.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the input DJ,

                        Unfortunately the customer is only willing to pay around $30 and I don't think this would qualify as a $30 job...not for me anyway.

                        I'll probably restore it in my spare time...ha ha ha.... just to get some experience under my belt using the different methods talked about in this thread.


                        • #13
                          Before I read any of the responses, I looked at the photo (yes, I can now see it ). My first thought was "Gee, I like the cracked look! It has "age" written all over it!" Maybe tone it down a bit like Tom suggested, but if it belonged to me, the cracks would be preserved somewhat. Just my nickel. (inflation)



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