The original image was in very poor condition with peeling, fading, and the beginning signs of mildew. The image restoration took about an hour to complete. Using Photoshop I saved a copy thus retaining the original image, just in case the process was unsuccessful and needed to revert back. The original resolution was also very low, coming in at a whopping 667×439 which is really not well suited for print. Besides the image restoration for preservation, I wanted to actually have it printed and framed. The photograph is of my father in the UK in his early twenties, having a moment with the family pet.
The Image Restoration Process
Working on the image in its original dimension and zooming into the area that I wanted to focus on was the logical starting point as opposed to increasing resolution first. Using the clone tool I went around the image and removed small blemishes and spots were a distraction. Cleaning and blending one pixel at a time with special focus on his main body. The main goal was not to make it absolutely perfect and spotless as if it was just taken. I wanted to retain the patina or vintage feel of the image by keeping some of the few minor cracks and slight imperfections.
The next step was to add some depth to the image by having more contrast and a bit more detail. Using the burn and dodge tools and some finesse with the mouse, the details were carefully blended. The next step was to add a very slight sharpening filter on the entire image Once again, I did not want a super sharp crisp image and opted to retain the natural soft focus. Satisfied it was time to work on image size and color.
Image Sizing & Color Saturation
Playing around with the color balance, saturation, and levels the conversion from a faded red to a true black and white was complete. Just to keep it a bit more with the image, I decided to add a slight vignette around the print to diffuse some of the ground shadows and direct the eye to the center of the image. The final image comes in at 300 dpi at 1578×1052 which is okay for a simple 4×6 print. Since I was working from a scan from 15 years ago when image resolution was horrific I couldn’t increase the size more than these dimensions. The original image if scanned by modern day scanners would have yielded much better results. Considering about an hour was used for the image restoration the results are like night and day. Very pleased. Let me know your thoughts…
What is image restoration? Wikipedia Article