Archive for the ‘restoring old photographs’ Category
Let’s say a huge chunk of an image is missing, an object or some ones torso or perhaps a sky. These missing elements can be replaced using other photos taken at a similar time. This is very handy and it can work very well but what if there are no other photos and the owner of the original has no idea what would have been worn at that time or what the weather was doing or what the missing object in the photo was, what then?Restoring is one thing, healing and patching away cracks, removing stains and revealing details hidden by grime and years of neglect, but where does this restoration stop and the inventing begins?.
Its not just about sculpting something out of thin air, is it? When was the photo taken? What were the trends of that period? What were the clothing styles? I try to work out what is likely to be missing and work inventively. It may take while to find what I am looking for, period clothes, toys, furniture, backdrops but it is worth the search.
Most importantly of all when I have found some reference material that can be used I match the grain, the lighting and shadows. I cringe every time I see restorations with beautifully smooth skies or some replaced clothing where the grain and texture has not been matched up and it looks terrible. Shadows are a tell tale sign as well so match these in too and don’t forget the high-lights. The whole idea of a restoration is for it to look un-restored, like it was never damaged in the first place. This is the hardest trick to master, do this and you surely can not put a foot wrong.
Below I have included a couple of examples that illustrate what many of my previous posts have talked about. Many of these techniques described have been used in these two restorations
In the first example which I have called “motorbike mess” a large chunk of the image is missing and it has very large tears and creases and cracks. Most of the superficial cracks could be patched away sampling from suitable nearby areas or textures that matched the missing details. The largest crack through the middle needed a little more attention. This is where the sliding block puzzle technique, of cutting pieces using the correct selection technique and pasting and repositioning, slowly piecing together the missing details. The clone tool can come in handy here too.
I had to recreate the engine mountings and not knowing the exact model of the bike and having no photo records, I had to use some imagination. Internet references were found and I could get some idea. The huge chunk missing in the top corner and windows down the top right were added using vanishing point, followed by patch and clone. It took around 5 hours mind you and turned into very much a personal challenge.
Before I started the creases and tears and missing pieces seemed like a daunting task.
After. Like any restoration I can go on forever, but I had to stop somewhere.
The second restoration consisted of 3 separate photos to make into one. Almost half the photo was missing but fortunately the customer had other wedding photos on that day, which supplied a reference for the coat and the hair and missing chin and background. With the correct selection technique and a fair bit of dodging and burning on separate layers the image was back together and a very good repair was achieved.
Before, showing the 3 photos used to complete the photo repair.
One the restoration was complete at a later date I decided to hand colour the image.
This is just a summary of the photo repair techniques involved but if you go back through the posts you will find many of them described in more detail.
You may find that the photos that you want to repair are in more than one piece. When scanning an old photo with the intention of repairing it you may want to check what your scanner is up to again. See Saving you images correctly. When you scan two bits of a photo you may find that the two halves end up looking completely different. The tones and exposure and even colour may look great on one half and totally different on the other, what is going on?
When your scanner when set to automatic just like a digital camera set to “auto”, it will exposure and correct the image where and how it sees fit. Images with more dark tones in them, may be compensated for and end up lighter and vice versa for light images ending up darker. Colours may even change too.
It is best to set your scanner to manual and switch off all the automatic settings and keep the scanning resolution the same. Turn off the auto tone, brightness, contrast, colour sections and just scan in colour, as basic as you can get. This way both scans should end up the same in their tones and exposures and size. You can then be sure when you are trying to match up the two halves that they will meet easily and make the photo repair simpler too. In fact you can apply this technique when scanning large prints bigger than your scanner. Make sure you scan with around 25% overlap on each scan then this will give plenty to match up when getting your restorer to stitch them together again.
Photo repairs and fixing your old photos.