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Archive for the ‘image restoration’ Category

Restoring pet photographs

Restoring photos of your pets is just as important as restoring photos of your family. Well they are family aren’t they. Here I am showing the progress through restoring photo a dog.

Restoring pet photos

The photo is heavily damaged but with some careful thought it can be restored.

Restoring pet photos

The dogs toe pad has been replaced with the large black foot pad but scaled down and rotated and squashed. Above that some shadow has been cloned into the white space as in picture 1

Restoring pet photos

You can see the muzzle has been cleaned up a bit here, using the patch tool and clone tools.

Restoring pet photos

I have also copied the yellow dog toy from the left and pasted it to the right. I pasted again and flipped the yellow ball and with the patch and clone rebuilt the right hand side of the toy. I made sure there was some flash shadow around the ball in a slightly red tinted shadow to match the other side.

Restoring pet photos

Finished cleaning up the muzzle and shadow underneath with clone tools and patch.

Restoring pet photos

Here I have used the left side of the leg and clone upward towards the ball. I flipped this leg edge and used it for the right side.

Fortunately the customer had another photo of the dog lying down and I able to distort and warp the rear leg to replace much of the missing leg.

Restoring pet photos

From the second photo I was able to use some belly fur and shade it with the dodge and burn tools. I added some flash shadows behind the newly added leg parts.

Restoring pet photos

I reduced the red tint to the back and grey sofa and zoomed out for the finished product.

Hopefully you will look after your photos and not need to get your pet photos restored.

Can an original photo be restored?

Original photos are made from layers. Old black and white photos were often made from fibre based paper. The base papers themselves would have been made in paper mills and the top coating of light sensitive chemical based sulphates called “baryta” was then added to produce the photographic paper. Once exposed to light and developed the positive image is embedded in the “baryta” or emulsion. If this top layer gets damaged there is no way to build up the layer and replace it. You cannot add wax or pen or ink, nothing comes close to the original emulsion. If some of the fibres of the paper have come away, then what? These cannot be replaced either, you cannot simply glue down new ones! Even if it were possible to put back a blank filler into the hole, there is no way to reproduce the grain structure that was there in the original, or the subtle tones and shading of the original photo.

Damaged photo and some component parts

Damaged photo and some component parts

The same goes for  colour photos, the resin or solid polyester top coat cannot be replaced with anything, It cannot be built up and restored. If there was a way to do this that was commercially available, there would not be so many digital photo restoration companies offering their digital restoration services today!

Sorry but it is not good news if own a damaged photo and want the original restored.

Types of photographic paper (image courtesy of WikiPedia)

Types of photographic paper (image courtesy of WikiPedia)

The only salvation may be that working in conjunction with a photo restoration artist, you can get a digital restoration done and then use that to help patch up the original. Of course this would only work if the paper texture and tone could be matched!

Photo restoration from an original

The question is, is it an original?

Genealogy and preserving photos isn’t new. The chances are somewhere in the family collection of old photos there are some that look a little smoother and shinier than the other, they still look old but just not as wrinkled.

Take a look at these carefully, can you see the scratches and creases, fold marks and tears but is the photo perfectly smooth? If so it is more likely to be a copy of an original. Unfortunately if this copy was made a while back when scanning technology was not so good, it may have been scanned with a first generation  scanner and printed in a high street lab when photo labs were numerous, around the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s. The chances are the tonal range within the reprint has changed dramatically from the original.

If you can turn the photo over, on the back may be printed “Fuji” or “Agfa” or “Kodak” in a faded font but clear as day, the paper itself is kind of plastic and not really papery at all. Very old photos were printed on paper made from pulp, made up of many layers of fibers, plastic papers just don’t have these and should be easy to spot.

In scanning the tones would have been averaged by the scanner and then when reprinting, the machines would have averaged again and much of the mid tones would have been lost. When it comes to making a restoration of this for the third time around, bringing out the details and enhancing the photo and making the restoration, is going to be somewhat disappointing,  than if it were direct from the original. The mid tones are what helps create shape and form to objects, the subtle shadows on some ones face,without these the photo will be just black and white and be very contrasty with little detail.

Lessons to learn here are, make sure that if you do end up making copies of old photos, make sure you still keep the original, no matter what state it is in! If you have to make a copy try to get it done professionally to ensure the maximum tonal range available, to allow for the best detail and best future photo restoration.

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