Congratulations to the winner of the Shutterfly Savvy class yesterday, and huge thanks to Debbie Hodge at Get It Scrapped for donating the prize! I have made several Shutterfly albums and absolutely love them! My favorite one was for a family reunion and each family got to order one—so simple to distribute (I didn’t have to make multiple copies), and so well-made and durable. Everyone loved them. I’ve also had the chance to take classes at Debbie’s site, and it is well worth the time and money. I know you’ll enjoy it.
Anyway—back to today’s topic. I’ve put together 2 examples to demonstrate some basic Photoshop fixes for older photos. I work in Photoshop CS2, but these steps should be fairly similar in other versions of Photoshop, as well as in Photoshop Elements. In the first example I’ve taken an older color photo that is faded and has sustained some scratches and spots, and the second one is an older black and white photo that is discolored and creased. Let’s take a look at the magic of Photoshop!
Example 1: Original Photo
This is a photo I scanned of my paternal grandparents in front of their summer cabin in the 1950s. It’s a color photo, but the color has faded over time. And if you look carefully, you can see some small scratches and white spots where the color has come off completely.
The first thing I’m going to do (after scanning at 600 dpi, renaming the file with names/ dates/places, and making a copy so I have the original unedited file if I need it) is try some auto adjustments to see where that gets me. First I’ll do an auto levels adjustment (IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>AUTO LEVELS), and then I’ll try to bring back the original color with an auto color adjustment (IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>AUTO COLOR).
The auto adjustments did a pretty good job, but I’d like a little more saturation and contrast, so I’m going to try a free action by Pioneer Woman called Fresh and Colorful. The cool thing about this action is that it stops midway through and allows you to make adjustments based on each individual photo before it finishes. After you download the action (CLICK HERE for Tina's post on photography tutorials and actions), just click on the actions palette at the top of your screen, select “fresh and colorful” and click on the play button. Make the indicated adjustments, and then hit play again to finish. Then right click on the photo layer (not action layer) in your layers palette and select “flatten image”. You need to do this after you run each action if the action creates a new layer.
After running the fresh and colorful action, I’d still like a bit more color so I’m going to try Pioneer Woman's free "boost" action. After running the action, I adjust the opacity of the action layer to 40% in my layers palette. I like what this does, so I think I’m ready to finish off this photo.
Now I’m going to take care of the spots and scratches by using the “healing brush” in my tool bar, which is on the left side of my screen. The healing brush icon looks like a mini band-aid. Click on the icon and then move your cursor over your photo. You’re basically going to select an area near the spot or scratch that is the same color you’d like your spot/scratch to be. You do that by clicking on that area while holding down Alt + Shift. Then move your cursor to the spot/scratch and click again.
You have now replaced the damaged pixels with the good pixels you selected. If you’d like to use those same colored pixels to replace other damaged spots move your cursor over them and click. If you’d like to select a different set of pixels for another spot, move your cursor to those pixels, hold down alt + shift, and start the process all over again. You can increase or decrease the size of the area of pixels you select by clicking on the “brush” drop down menu at the top left of your screen and adjusting the “diameter” slider. Once I cover up all the spots and scratches my photo is almost done!
The last thing I’m going to do is remove extra noise in the photo by running it through noise reduction software. Scanned photos often appear grainy and textured, and noise reduction software can help smooth them out a lot. Some noise reduction software can be costly, but you can download a free community edition of Noiseware HERE. After opening Noiseware, I ran the default filter on this photo and that was plenty to smooth it out. Other more grainy photos might need a stronger filter to get the right results.
Now I can resize or crop the photo how I’d like and get a new print made. Here's the before and after so you can see the difference:
Example 2: Original photo
This is a photo of my dad at about age 22. It was originally black and white, but has become discolored and creased over time. Let's see what we can do with this one.
I'll start by desaturating the photo to take all the color out. This can either be done by clicking IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>DESATURATE, or by clicking IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>HUE/SATURATION, and then moving the saturation slider all the way to the left.
Next I'm going to use the healing brush the same way I did in the first photo to remove some of the discolored streaks and creases/imperfections. I can also use another technique if I need a more complete cover up of something large or obvious. I can use my marquee tool in the tool bar at the left (looks like a square with a dotted line border) to draw out a small rectagle over part of the photo that has no imperfections and is the same color I want my imperfect part to be. I then go to EDIT>COPY, and then EDIT>PASTE. I then click on the move tool (looks like a little arrow at the top right of the tool bar) and move the pasted portion of the photo over to cover the imperfection. I then flatten the image as I explained above. Now the spot/crease/whatever is covered but still looks like the original photo.
Now I'd like to add a little more contrast to the black and white. I click on IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>LEVELS. I start by adjusting the black-colored slider (the one all the way to the left). I'm going to drag that to the right a bit until the black is nice and dark. Then I'm going to drag the white-colored slider (the one all the way to the right) over to the left a bit until my whites are nice and bright, but not blown out. Then I'll drag the mid-tone (or gray) slider in the middle a bit to the left to brighten the whole thing up slightly. The very last thing I do is run the photo through Noiseware to reduce extra noise and smooth it out using the default settings again.
Here's a look at the before and after so you can see the difference. Not perfect, but so much better than the original:
Well, I hope these tips help you out with your heritage photos. A lot of this is trial and error, and each photo is different and will need different adjustments made. Don't give up--keep at it, be patient, and you'll figure it out. It's amazing what Photoshop can do once you do figure it out.
Don't hesitate to ask questions in the comments section, and I'll be sure and respond as soon as I can. Thanks for tuning in today. Come back tomorrow and I'll highlight some of your fabulous childhood and heritage pages from the flickr gallery. Happy scrapping!