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Old Family Photo

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  • Old Family Photo

    Hi All

    Any ideas on how to get some detail into the very light faces to restore this photo? Thanks

    Attached Files

  • #2
    this is a tough one. I did some testing, and it looks like it's gonna take a lot of color correction (I got some results with a simple curves adjustment) and careful dodging and burning at low opacities. good luck!

    - David


    • #3
      Larry, if you duplicate layers and use Multiply blending, there still isn't any detail in some of the faces, other than the dark spots for eyes and mouth. If the goal is to restore, you can clean up the image and enhance what detail is there. If manipulation is desired, you can add detail -- preferably from other better photos of the same people.

      Have you tried rescanning to see if you can add detail during the scan?


      • #4
        David and CJ,

        Thanks for trying, I didn't think there would be too much that could be done. CJ, I was wondering if I did two scans and merged them together if that might bring something out. Did you ever do something like that?



        • #5
          I was wondering if I did two scans and merged them together if that might bring something out. Did you ever do something like that?
          I've heard it recommended, and I think I've tried it some time ago. Maybe someone here knows a good way to do it -- I remember reading (and probably trying ) to do one scan for the highlights and one scan for the shadows -- then combine both images in PShop. It certainly is worth trying if you have the scanner handy -- if it helps the image detail -- GREAT!
          If it doesn't help -- still learned something.


          • #6

            Thanks, I'll give ti a try.



            • #7
              Larry, this is a really tough one. It doesn't look like there's much detail left in the highlights to "save".

              Most often when I've heard of scanning for highlights and then shadows, it's using two different images taken at the same time, but with different exposures. Usually because the contrast in a situation it too great to capture on film.

              That's not the case here though - you've just got the one photo and it doesn't look like your scan has blown out the highlights at all. (Look at the lightest spot in the image - and then compare it to the pure white at the very edge. There's a huge difference there, which tells me the scan is not the problem with the lost highlights.)

              That being said, I've found that the blue channel often carries detail that the others have long since lost. (It also tends to carrie a lot of the dirt and noise in an image, so you have to make a tradeoff.) You can select certain parts that need details boosted though using a layer mask and it can really help.

              For this image, I copied the blue channel onto it's own layer and set the blending mode to multiply. I duplicated the multiply layer and added a layer mask to hide everything (i.e., all black). Then I painted with white over the faces since that's where most of the detail seems to be lost and adjusted the layer opacity (of just the faces) to about 40%. Also added an master channel levels adjustment to boost the highlights a bit. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much detail left in the face all the way on the right. Some of that may be JPEG compression though. And, of course, the picture still needs to be cleaned up - I was just working to get a little more details in the faces to appear.

              Good luck!

              Attached Files


              • #8
                Wow, Jeanie, thanks a lot. I know that most of the detail from some of the faces is pretty well gone, but you actually got some back in the one on the right.....can see the other eye. Iv'e got some clean-up and tweeking to do now.



                • #9
                  Try reducing the tonal range of your scanner by reducing the dark range. The scanner will then scan a more finite resolution within the remaining range. Crank your scanner up to its finest resolution. Make sure you are using an actual resolution, not an interpolated resolution. The goal is to obtain even the slightest differentiation in tone. The scan you have now, at least in its jpg format, has zero differentiation. If you can get even a slight amount of range, there are a number of photoshop techniques that will work wonders.


                  • #10

                    Just so I understand what you're suggesting - when you say "Try reducing the tonal range of your scanner by reducing the dark range." are you referring to moving the left slider of the histogram to the right in your scanner software? Or something else?

                    Thanks, Jeanie


                    • #11
                      Hi Barbie,

                      Me too....


                      • #12
                        Yes, use your histogram. Here is an article that explains how to set your black and white points and why it increases the tonal range. The article is several pages, but the two pages that defines the setting of histogram points starts at


                        • #13
                          I'm reading the reply I posted last night and it seems to contradict my first post. I should have said it increases the tonal range between your black and white points. Also, the link I supplied doesn't work. Here's another try


                          • #14
                            Thanks Barbie. I do that all the time and just wanted to make sure I understood what you were saying - and not a new technique that I hadn't heard of before.



                            • #15
                              Wonderful old photo! You might try this:
                              (1) duplicate layer
                              (2)set blend mode to "Multiply" then Flatten
                              (3)press{ Ctrl+Alt +Tilde (~) } keys
                              (4) Layer via Copy {Ctrl+J}
                              (5) Set Blend mode to multiply
                              (6) Flatten
                              (7) Repeat steps 3 and 4
                              (8) set Blend mode to overlay and Flatten
                              (9) Add Hue/Saturation Adj. layer and set saturation to around minus 73 or so
                              (10) Flatten
                              (11)Tweak levels and use Dodge tool set to Shadows and exposure to around 37% or so to lighten areas which appear too dark.
                              Very nice old photo. Would advise storing it in Archival envelope, pH neutral, in a controlled humidity and temp environment...try keeping it from being exposed to humidity in excess of 50% and temps over 60 degrees if at all possible and avoid displaying it in direct sunlight or under unshielded flourescent lighting..UV kills photos fairly quickly and high humidity/temp contribute to sulfiding deterioration. Good luck....Tom


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