Saturday, 25 June 2011

Restoring an old Photograph

Remember to click the images to see a larger view.

Some months ago a friend at work gave me a CD full of images. The images were of retirement / leaving presentations within the Rolls Royce Experimental Department in Derby stemming back some 50 years.

As I looked through the images one in particular caught my eye. It was a presentation from the mid-sixties and the image was taken in the Hand Turret bay of the Experimental Machine Shop (a hand turret is a lathe which has the auxiliary tools stored in a rotating device that looks like a gun turret). 

This was the bay in which I served part of my apprenticeship some 15 years later and the picture shows several people who would eventually become colleagues and friends and one person who would become my Foreman (That's the guy with the handbag - Ernie Dean).

Sadly the image (seen here) was badly discoloured and damaged before it was scanned which made it difficult to see and not really worth printing.

Original Image

Having seen a photo restoration tutorial by Janine Smith on I decided to see if I could do anything with this image to make it better.

I can categorically state that my skills in the field of restoration pail against those of Janine however her tutorials and guidance gave me the inspiration to give this a go.

Janine Smith recommends starting the restoration process by using the HDR Toning feature in Photoshop CS5. I made an ‘educated’ guess that the original image was in greyscale so after opening the image in the HDR Toning screen I set about trying to recreate that greyscale look. I tried a few presets and settled on monochrome. Not being too familiar with this screen, I continued to move the various sliders until I had, what I thought, was a satisfactory result.  opened the image into Photoshop and I called the HDR layer DESATURATE. At this stage I added a couple of levels adjustment layers to raise the overall look of the image.

Pallet workflow
I took the view to 100% so that I could examine it t closely. The first thing that struck me was just how much dirt and dust was on the image so I decided that my next task should be to remove it.

I created a blank layer, selected the clone stamp tool and began cloning out the damage. I cloned onto a separate layer just so that I could track my progress and also rectify any cloning mistakes more easily.  I worked my way in stages from bottom to top and left to right. This process took about two hours but was well worth it.

Next task was to introduce another levels adjustment layer to correct the black and white points. I introduced a Brightness layer to lift the overall image.

Lastly I made a selection of the faces of the two main subjects, copied them to a new layer and then used the multiply blend mode just to bring out their features a little. Having done all this I finally added a VERY slight Gaussian Blur to smooth out the final look of the image.

The result of all this work is shown below against the original for comparison. All-in-all it took about 3 hours in a couple of sessions. I learned a lot and I found the whole process very satisfying.

Final Fixed Image

Original Image

My thanks go to Janine Smith providing the knowhow to get me started and for providing a place to learn all these skills by putting them all on one amazing website.

Next time ...... Macro using focus stacking

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