Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Restoring an old black & white picture

  1. #1
    Alis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,544
    Real Name
    Ali

    Restoring an old black & white picture

    Hi,

    I am trying to restor a very old family picture (black and white) with a lot of cracks and areas of overexposure and simply worn parts. The picture overall looks dull and neutral, and low contrast. What are the things I can do to make it better on print. I am using Photoshop CS3. Please advice,. And what is the best way to scan the picture. I can send the picture of somone wants to look at it.

    Thanks,

    Ali

  2. #2

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Hi Sadali
    If you email a copy of the photograph you would like restored I will do it for you.


    J W Revie

  3. #3
    Alis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,544
    Real Name
    Ali

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    I really appreciate the offer and will definitely send it to you. I need your email address.

    However, I am more interested in learning the technique, any tips, references, etc appreciated. I have a lot of them and I am doing this for fun. I just ordered a Canon scanner to scan the images and will send you a better sample (the one that I have is with a not so great HP scanner) I soon as I get the scanner.

    Thanks,

    Ali

  4. #4
    atvinnys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Raleigh (NC/US), Paris
    Posts
    183

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    if one could come up with a technique summary here, that would be awesome.

  5. #5
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    1,473
    Real Name
    Sean

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Here's some notes I have on restoring an old black and white photo. These are the main things most people have to deal with when restoring an old photo. Some of these notes are pretty basic and it lacks diagrams, but it should be a start. In other areas I list the concept, but have not mentioned all the tools or actually how to do it. I intend to improve this and put it online in the tutorials section at some point. I have gotten into this quite a bit recently after the purchase of an Epson Perfection V700 film scanner. The notes below were from before this purchase and do not include any of the new experiences/tips based on this work. Any comments/additions to the (very incomplete) notes below would be great.

    - TIPS ON DIGITAL PHOTO RESTORATION -


    Digital photo restoration can work miracles by turning a faded old family portrait into an image with seemingly modern quality. Alternatively, this process can work in reverse to give a photograph a timeless feel. Performing either of these transformations yourself is not as difficult as it may seem-- if you know which photo restoration tools to use.

    IT ALL STARTS WITH THE SCANNER

    Before any digital restoration is performed, the original photo needs to be scanned so that it can later be digitally edited. It is important to begin by using the best scanning equipment at your disposal, otherwise the the scan may limit the quality of your restoration. Here's a few settings to pay attention to:

    • If available and if your scanner supports it, always start with the film negative. It will give you much more detail, better white balance control, exposure control, etc. In other words, basically all the advantages of a RAW file for those unfamiliar with film developing. Otherwise you can just use a flatbed scanner for the photo itself.
    • Scan at the highest bit depth possible: 16-bits per channel or 48-bits in total color depth, if available. This way your digital original can withstand more retouching before it begins to show signs of posterization.
    • Use the highest dot per inch (DPI) resolution available, preferably one which can resolve the individual noise/grain speckles in the image. This will both retain more detail and make the process of noise removal more effective later on.
    • If your scanner supports it, using multipass mode can reduce noise and multiexposure mode can both reduce noise and extend the dynamic range (Dmax) of your scanner.

    If the above options are insufficient and the image is of great importance, it may be worth it send the original off for a high-end professional scan. This may provide a significant improvement compared to a consumer scanner.

    REDUCING PHOTO GRAIN & NOISE

    One of the first things you might notice when flipping though the old photo collection is that the images are quite grainy. Old photographs were far less efficient at converting light into texture and color on film-- producing lots of image noise. This noise can be quite difficult to remove without also destroying small-scale detail.

    Removing grain or noise has several approaches, depending both on its location and severity. Most image editing software supports what is called a "median filter," which can be quite powerful for minimizing noise in smooth-textured areas such as the sky. It works by scanning through each pixel level and re-assigning it to the median of the surrounding pixel values. This means it should also be avoided in fine-textured areas as it will smooth out detail. In film, the brightest area will usually have the greatest appearance of graininess, so it is convenient that these regions also have a smooth texture.

    The most powerful approach is to use a dedicated noise reduction program such as Neat Image or Noise Ninja. These work by first analyzing a smooth patch of your photo (where you know there should be no texture), then using this analysis to intelligently discern and extract noise from detail in the rest of the image.

    If you do not have Neat Image or Noise Ninja, or if these still reduce detail unacceptably in some areas, another approach could be selective noise reduction.

    DUST & SCRATCHES

    Photos which have withstood the test of time will have likely incurred plenty of imperfections in the form of dust marks, rips or tears, scratches and crinkles. These can distract from the image-- particularly if placed somewhere such as someone's face in a portrait. Fortunately, the places where dust and scratches are most detracting are also those which are often those which are easiest to remove. By far the best tools for removing these are either the clone or healing tool in Adobe Photoshop.

    The clone tool works by replicating a similar part of the image on top of the dust or scratch, whereas the healing tool goes one step further by also maintaining similar lighting on the patched area.

    ADDING COLOR TO BLACK & WHITE OR SEPIA PHOTOS

    Sometimes black and white or sepia enhances the mood of a photograph, but then again, sometimes it does not. Adding an element of color can help add vitality and warmth to old photos of people. You might ask: how can this been done if you have no color photo to base the coloring on? There is an element of guesswork no doubt, however proper coloration has a greater degree of realism because it also preserves the luminance or lightness of each color. This maintains shadows and a sense of atmosphere-- even if not all colors necessarily have the same hue as they once did.

    REDUCING LIGHT FALL-OFF OR VIGNETTING

    Another artifact of old lenses may be significant light fall-off near the edges of the photo (vignetting). This is sometimes desirable as it adds a nice artificial framing element and draws focus towards the center of the photo, however other times it can make the image feel closed in and artificial.

    Some tools that come to mind: PTLens, photoshop mask with gradient tool, photoshop raw converter, photoshop lens filter

    RESTORING CONTRAST & DYNAMIC RANGE

    Virtually the single most common thing that happens to old photos is they fade. Fortunately, this is one of the more straightforward aging artifacts to correct for. The most common of these is the levels tool in photoshop and other image editing programs, which provides full control over the white and black points in an image.

    REMOVING COLOR CASTS & NEUTRALIZING TONES

    Fading is one thing when it simply reduces contrast, however it can become harder to restore-- and more unsightly-- if the photograph develops an unrealistic color cast.

    Levels tool with "snap neutral midtones," manual correction with color balance, or the most powerful: curves on the individual color channels. Assess how far it deviates from neutral by applying an average filter to the entire image and inspecting at the RGB values.

    FINAL WORDS

    Photo restorations no doubt often require many interpretive decisions; use of good judgment for such cases could possibly be one of the most overlooked aspects of restoration. Before you even touch the photo, ask yourself: what do you hope to accomplish, and which aspects are of highest priority to improve? Do your restorations maintain the original mood of the photo, and does this even matter? All of these can influence your choice of several seemingly equal approaches to restoration. Finally, take your time! Proper removal of physical imperfections such as stains or scratches can be quite involved, so do not (always) expect miracles with just a few minutes of work.
    Last edited by McQ; 13th June 2008 at 04:45 PM.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Berkeley CA
    Posts
    23

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    If you find yourself battling the texture of the paper itself, one trick is to scan the image on an angle rather than square to the edge. In the early days of this type of work I've found it helpful to tweak the scan settings until I'm satisfied, do a scan. Walk away and set it all up again, scan, walk away. Do this a few times and compare them. Sounds tedious and it is, but you'll learn faster how to optimize a scan as well as get more comfortable with all the new controls at your disposal. After a few you'll start to feel the scientist in you come to power, find confidence and begin to know what you're looking for.
    Use PS adjustment layers! and start by duplicating the background layer for a backup. Save the file without flattening, forever, flattening a copy of the working file when needed.

  7. #7
    Alis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,544
    Real Name
    Ali

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Thanks every one for the wonderful replies. Very helpful. Sedali

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    3

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    i dnt have any idea about it. but i have heard about Photos on canvas. may be you can get good help from google.

  9. #9
    Alis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,544
    Real Name
    Ali

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Here is the picture I was talking about, Sean. It is way smaller in size now because of the site upload limitation but you can see the stains. For others, I am trying to get rid of the pink stains. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Sedali
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    1,473
    Real Name
    Sean

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Thanks, it's much easier to make suggestions after seeing the pink stains in the photo you've attached. My opinion after seeing this is that you will likely have no choice but to use the clone and healing brush tools to remove all the stains. This will undoubtedly be very time-consuming, but sometimes the best approach is the longest approach when it comes to restoration.

    The only other technique I was thinking of (before I saw the photo) was to scan it in and apply a color filter to remove most of the pink portions. You could then convert back into sepia or black and white and the stains would be less apparent. After seeing it though it looks like the stains have a strong colorless component to them as well, making that technique less effective.

    If anyone else has suggestions to make make the process quicker that would be great.

  11. #11
    shreds's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,328
    Real Name
    Ian

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    I was recently given a 50/60 year old picture that the gloss surface has deteriorated on, leaving a highly speckled surface when examined under a loupe. Can deal with the usual blemishes, tears, spots etc, but the universal speckling is a problem.

    Tried despeckling it with no great success in Photoshop, but wondered if anyone had any other solutions?

    Not really an area that I have spent any time on in the past, so all suggestions would be welcomed.

  12. #12
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    1,473
    Real Name
    Sean

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    If the problem is primarily the result of the gloss surface, it sounds to me like you could benefit from some physical restoration instead of digital restoration. Is there a way to resurface it, or to remove only the remaining speckled gloss using a particular solvent? Hard to say without physically seeing it though.

    You could also try Neat Image or Noise Ninja for noise removal (even though this is not noise). They are both pretty good at selectively removing screening/matte/etc patterns from images...

  13. #13
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Hi, I'm a retoucher and here's what I would do for the despeckling in Photoshop;

    Copy your background layer then apply a dust and scratches filter to this second layer. Fiddle around with the sliders until the biggest of the specks has disappeared - don't worry about how the rest of the image looks, just concentrate on those dots disappearing.

    Then apply a layer mask to 'hide all' on this layer and use a small size, medium firm brush to reveal it - painting a dot on your mask layer precisely over each speck, revealing the dst&scr layer. Yes, it's painstaking work but all decent retouching has to be! And it's generally faster doing this than cloning it out. (Any big scratches will need to be cloned out though.)
    If what you've done looks a bit soft in comparison you could also apply a grain layer on just that layer too. But it shouldn't be noticeably soft if you have done a high res scan and are using a small size brush.

    For the picture above I would very carefully paint a mask on the stained dark areas to select them then colour correct them lighter and vice versa for lighter areas, using a curves layer - that way you can paint more & less using a black or white brush on the layer. Then either clone out anything that wasn't affected by the corrections or just repeat the lightening/darkening process on them. On the pink areas - similar thing but you could additionally try using hue/saturation to balance the colour.

    Hope that helps, or even just makes sense.

    I agree with the possible washing of the speckly print - quite often I work on Polaroids and they benefit from repeated washes, but then they're not 50/60 years old so I'd be very very careful doing that. If it's actually degradation of the surface emulsion you could end up make it a lot worse. Maybe try a bit of water on a cotton bud in a tiny corner first then let it dry properly. I don't think it's worth the risk though. I have made the mistake of attempting to remove marks from prints using lighter fuel - we used to use that on transparencies - only to be told by printers "Water only".

  14. #14

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Is this what you are trying to do?
    Duplicate layer: blur average:blend mode colour:adjust opacity until colour cast is removed:
    flatten image:convert to greyscale:asssign black and white profile.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
    Alis's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    1,544
    Real Name
    Ali

    Re: Restoring an old black & white picture

    Looks great, thanks a lot. Sedali

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •