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Photoshop Tips: Restore Old Photographs to Vibrant Beauty

5459 views | added on 02.10.2012
restore old photographs

We hold photographs near and dear to our hearts. They take us back in time to a place of happiness, sorrow, achievement and success. One wouldn't normally assume a picture has been altered in anyway, but the shocking fact is that pictures of things that never actually happened are incredibly common. According to The Guardian, faked images have existed since at least 1920. It's almost certain that their history goes back farther than that—to the time cameras were first invented.

Altering a picture is so easy in this day and age many people do it just for fun. Popular internet sites are full of funny images that were whipped up just to make a joke: a great white shark popping out of a bathtub or President Obama hanging out with President Lincoln.

Photoshop: A Great Tool for Restoration

Photoshop is a great photography tool. Not only does it allow you to make funny changes to pictures, but it is also a great tool for photo restoration and general retouching of images. Photography colleges make sure that their students are skilled at Photoshop as well as actually taking pictures because the two go hand in hand for producing great results.

Restoring a Picture

When it comes to restoring pictures, the first thing to remember is that photos can be damaged in many ways. Improper storage can result in creases, faded spots and even mold. Old pictures can also be subject to problems like chipping, where the actual image has chipped off of its backing. There may be writing present on the front of the picture that you either want to restore or get rid of completely. Fortunately, Photoshop can allow you to take care of all of these problems.

How to Restore a Photograph Using Photoshop

Here are a few common steps from PhotoRestorics for bringing an image up to a presentable condition:

  1. Start with the overall color. A black and white or sepia tint is the easiest to apply, but many modern photos are in color. Use Photoshop to get rid of fading or color changes that have happened over time. If it's your first time doing this, it will take a while to get it right—but eventually, you'll arrive at a realistic color spectrum for your photo.
  2. Next, adjust the brightness and contrast of the photo. To change these factors for the entire picture, apply a filter over the image. To touch up only problem areas, use the burn and dodge tools. Make sure to make adjustments slowly and preview them before saving.
  3. Enlarge the picture on screen so the damaged area fills your entire monitor. A 19" monitor is suggested for this work. You should enlarge the trouble spot so much that you can see the individual pixels.
  4. Now that you can really see the minute details, start making your fixes. Use the clone stamp tool to copy pixels from an undamaged area and paste them into the part with the problems. This will allow your fix to blend in with the rest of the image. Work a few pixels at a time—the little things that you can't individually see at the picture's normal size are what make the difference between a new-looking picture and one that's clearly old and worn.

These are just a few of the basic tips for using Photoshop to restore an old image. With practice, you'll find that your results get better and you can work faster. Since the original photo remains unchanged, you can try again and again until you reach the perfection you're seeking.

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