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Thursday, January 13, 2011

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Saving Photos: Amateur Photo Restoration

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I have found saving photos has been just as thrilling as saving stories.  Unfortunately, I did not start out with a wealth of photos, so I am grateful for those family members who have shared along the way.  For this reason, I travel with my camera.

I have pretty much mastered taking photos of photos.  They most often look better than the original.  Well, since photographs are part of the story too, I thought I would begin to share the tricks I have learned.  We will start with basic photo restoration tips and move to enhancing and embellishing photos.

The following photo came from Creative Commons.

Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 
Repository: Beinecke Rare Book; Manuscript Library, Yale University
If you have a photo that you would like to restore, scan it in at 600 dpi or take a high resolution photo with a digital camera.  I use Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  For our purposes here, I will try to stick to Elements since it is easier to use.

 1.  First open the photo in Elements.



The photo is 400 dpi.  The frame is rather distracting, and the photo looks uneven.  I will first crop the photo.










2.  The photo has been cropped, and I am less distracted.


3.  Next, we will adjust the lighting of this photo in Elements. 
Select Enhance>Adjust lighting>Levels.
4.  The Levels Histogram will appear.  The black region of the histogram should be more centered in the viewing area.  This will improve the lighting of the photograph.  You adjust the sliders beneath the Input Levels to correct the lighting.
 
5. I moved the slider on the right toward the center.  Notice the difference:

6.  I slid the slider on the left and the one in the center toward the middle to create a little more contrast.

Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 
Repository: Beinecke Rare Book; Manuscript Library, Yale University
Adjusted by Robin Foster


In the next article, I will demonstrate how to remove the spots in the photo with the Healing Tool.

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