Using photoshop to restore old family photos

photoshop-skill-final-lower-res.jpg   back of the orginial picture  Karin, Ashley and Matthrew 

My grandmother has alway been a bit of a “packrat,” which is a good thing if you’re looking for family photos, old stamps, letters, etc.  She’s got them all….somewhere.  One of the things I’ve recently become concerned about is the photo albums she’s kept or created for her children (my dad is one of three) for various birthdays, retirements, etc.  Not knowing what the glue and the standard Wal-Mart photo albums can do to pictures, she’s taken family photos, many of which are over 100 years old and put them in these album.  Over Thanksgiving I started going through the albums, experimenting with ways to get some of these photos scanned in a computer to preserve them.  The photo of my great, great grandmother, Rebecca Brown holding my great granfather, William Gourlie, caught my eye.  Three of my cousins have children, all bearing strong family resemblences in some way.  I’ve never been able to peg who my cousin Dean’s daughter Ashley looks like though (either on Dean’s side or his wife Robin’s side) until I took a closer look at William. 

I scanned in the orginial first and saved it, then began to experiment with retouching.  On the first retourch, I scanned at millions on colors (24 bit) with a medium sharpen and a high fix on the dust and scratches.  The scanner I used also had a restore faded color function, so I gave that a shot.  For the next retouch, I scanned the photo in 8 bit grayscale at 300 dpi with no sharpen or fix.  On the third retouch I scanned in the photo in 24 bit millions of color again, at 300 dpi, used an extreme sharpen, a high fix, the adaptive lighting and restore faded color functions on the scanner.  Then I went into the photo and used the clone stamper to fix the scratch on Rebecca’s dress (I tried the burn tool and smudge tool first, neither of which worked well.)  All of this was done using Adobe Photoshop 7.  I think retouch 3 probably came out the best in the end…it was interesteing that all the bells and whstles on the scanner I was using couldn’t fix the scratch in Rebecca’s dress. 

One of the other interesting things I found on this picture was that it’s orginial paper backing tore away when I pulled it off the album page (a result of the glue starting to eat through the photo.) Once torn away though I found the photographers orginial handwriting and the price that Rebecca must have paid for the picture, $0.50.  I’ve also attached a recent picture of myself with Ashley (and another little cousin.)  I see a strong resemblence! 

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