It is so tempting to whip out your phone and take a photo of your damaged picture and get it restored, simple right? Not exactly. Let us take a look at the issues that can occur when using a phone to take a photo of your image. We can also see the difference a scan makes for photo restoration.
First up it must be in focus.
With small screens and smeared screens, it is easy to miss when a photo is out of focus. It is easy to assume they are in focus and just email them without checking.
It is difficult to see the details and or what is wrong with the image when it is out of focus.
Distortion and Reflections
Although this image is in focus, it is both distorted and contains reflections from the nearby window. The way the light is falling has also picked up on the dents made by the ball point pen writing on the back of the image. It is difficult to see if there should be any detail in the background.
Similarly, if the photo is taken from the window side, it easy to cast shadows onto the paper.
Now the shadows have replaced the reflections making more work for the restoration. Still not ideal, as the image was taken on a phone.
When the light is not perfect and the image is coming up blurred we normally turn to using the flash. However, this also creates problems.
The flash is clearly visible and creates fuhrer problem for restoration so best avoid this. If the flash appears over an important detail area it can mask damage and details and make it tricky to assess the photo.
The best mobile image we can get.
This image is about as good as we are going to get from a mobile phone but is it good enough? I’ve included the scan below for comparison.
The scanned image is not as yellow. This is because the scanning light is of the right kind to bring out the normal tones in the image. The lights by the windows in the house have produced a yellow cast, giving a sort of sepia tint to the image. House lights of different colour temperatures cast different hues across photos. A scan should always produce a true result.
Close up which is best?
The scan shows a flat sharp natural toned image and the phone slightly less sharp with yellowing from the indoor lights. Ultimately a scan is always best. It eliminates all the above issues in one go and produces a far better image, be sure to notice the difference a scan makes for photo restoration. To get the best from your scan there is a separate blog post 7 steps to a better scan. or read my scanning guide for all scanning related issues.