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restoring old photographs
Old 11-27-2006, 05:47 PM   #1
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restoring old photographs

Leonidas said in another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
I bought PhotoShop Elements and I get a lot of good comments on some of the things I have been doing. My aunt recently saw a photo of her parents that started with a photo that she had made years ago by taking of a copy of the original 1930 photo (her thumb was visible on the edge). She demanded to know where I had gotten my copy and didn't believe it was from her photo until I showed her how I did it.
I have a number of old family albums with photos going back to the 1800s. A number are faded. Some were improperly taped to the photo album page. Some are torn. I would like to have these photos restored to the extent possible and also scanned in to share with relatives. I am an amateur and have never used a photo editing program. If I bought something like photoshop, is it relatively easy to figure out how to use it? Any ideas on what to do about taped on pictures where I can't remove the tape and the tape has discolored the corners of the photos?

I also have a number of slides from my parents. Is there anywhere that would scan them in bulk for not too large a price? Or do I have to sit and scan one by one? There are several hundred slides.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-27-2006, 10:06 PM   #2
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Re: restoring old photographs

Re slides: We have a HP scanner that accomodates slides and yes it is tedious to load and scan them, also they take a lot of space to store. Were I you I would scan a few to determine a setting that works for you then engage a kid for a couple hours to do a bunch. Less effort than baby sitting or shoveling snow.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 08:27 AM   #3
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Re: restoring old photographs

PhotoShop takes some work to be good at it but a good fundamentals book and "Photoshop Restoration & Retouching" by Katrin Eismann will help you get up to speed. Just don't expect instant results. I have used PhotoShop since Version 1 and still learn new tricks. One feature in the current version of PhotoShop that makes it worth the extra cost is the "Shadow/Highlight" adjustment, take some time learning that one tool will make a lot of your adjusting easy, almost like magic.

When you buy PhotoShop just buy PhotoShop not the Suite that has lots of extras you will probably never use.

I have a Canon 8400F scanner that does a nice job on prints, slides, and negatives. It can do transparencies up to 2.25"X3.25".

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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 09:57 AM   #4
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Re: restoring old photographs

Martha,

There are places in major cities that do bulk scanning of film and slides - or you can find similar places on the internet like DigiPic. I Googled "scanning slides" and found places in different parts of the country that offer the service. Last year I looked at a local business that does this service and found that prices depend on what finished product you want and what material they were scanning. For 49 cents an image they would return the following:

* 2000 DPI
* Full 24-bit RGB color
* Scanned with professional quality Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED scanners
* Scan cropping
* Scan rotating
* Infrared dust removal (Kodak Digital ICE4) applied to every image
* NeatImage digital noise removal applied to every image
* JPEG format (others upon request)
* Delivered on a ForceField DVD

For that price they won't fix problems like tape across an edge unless they can crop the edge without losing important elements of the picture.

If you want to do it yourself there are equipment costs and a learning curve. I spent about $500 for equipment and software (HP Scanjet 4890 scanner, Canon Pixma ip6600 photo printer, and PhotoShop Elements).

Photoshop Elements is a cheaper version of photoshop but is still a very powerful tool. Or you can download Gimp, which is a open source Photoshop lookalike.

I set everything up and had it running within a couple of hours. What I discovered is that the software has a lot of easy fix tools that you can use that will make "intelligent" decisions about problems and apply broad fixes. You can get rid of a lot of dust, scratches, and you can sharpen and enhance. Those tools work great on photos that are newer. Learning how to do all of that took maybe an hour.

You will learn how to use the "undo" tool because as you play with the program you will get results you don't like, and you undo it to try again. There are a multitude of settings to play with and adjust in order to change the effect you are applying.

The really old photos with lots of problems take more work. You can learn more about the tools that PhotoShop Elements has by buying a book like the one I have (The Digital Photographer's guide to Photshop Elements - Becky Beckham) which has a section on how to fix old photos. There are a lot of tools that the book explains that allow you to go in and make more exacting fixes.

Finally, you can go all the way down to the individual pixel level and make fixes. I did this with the photo I wrote about on the other thread. As I said, it was a photo of a photo and there were a lot of problems. You could not make out facial details because of some blurriness caused by poor focusing and/or an old fixed focus lens. Plus, one child's features were completely blurred by an ancient fingerprint. I was able to bring out details that were not visible in the original and I think it came out better than the original photo from the 1930's. It's an extreme case to cite, and it took three hours to do, but I was restoring a family heirloom and the kid's face with the fingerprint on it was my mother when she was about 9 years old. It was worth the investment in time.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 10:06 AM   #5
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Re: restoring old photographs

Thanks! I will get the book. I am thinking that working on the old family photos might be a great wintertime project.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 02:01 PM   #6
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Re: restoring old photographs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb-NY
PhotoShop takes some work to be good at it but a good fundamentals book and "Photoshop Restoration & Retouching" by Katrin Eismann will help you get up to speed. Just don't expect instant results. I have used PhotoShop since Version 1 and still learn new tricks. One feature in the current version of PhotoShop that makes it worth the extra cost is the "Shadow/Highlight" adjustment, take some time learning that one tool will make a lot of your adjusting easy, almost like magic.

When you buy PhotoShop just buy PhotoShop not the Suite that has lots of extras you will probably never use.

I have a Canon 8400F scanner that does a nice job on prints, slides, and negatives. It can do transparencies up to 2.25"X3.25".

Jeb

That is what I have also....a canon....never used the the slide tool though....I went through all of our family photos with PhotoShop last winter and it was a big project....Once you get used to the various tools, it goes faster...Only ended up with 2 or 3 pics that I really couldnt do anything with...the "red eye tool" is the best...
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 03:13 PM   #7
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Re: restoring old photographs

Martha:

If you want to give this a try without a major investment I would recommend that you download a copy of the GIMP: http://www.wingimp.org/mainpage.php This is a free, open source application that has almost everything you will find in Photoshop ($400). Like Photoshop it is a complex application, but for retouching old photos you will probably only use a few of the tools. Levels (or autolevels) will get the basic photograph looking good (works well for both color and black and white). But the big gun for old photos with scratches and specks is the clone tool. You set a pointer to copy (clone) a few pixels from an adjacent part of the image onto the part you want to fix. If you zoom in the view and take your time it can do some amazing repairs.

You would also enjoy "Grokking the GIMP" a great book for understanding how to use the GIMP, Photoshop or any other advanced editing program. The entire book is available online: http://gimp-savvy.com/BOOK/. Here is a page that shows you how you can use the clone tool to remove a person from a beach scene: http://gimp-savvy.com/BOOK/index.html?node62.html

As for getting the pictures into your computer, scanning is the best bet. But, if you don't have a scanner available try using a digital camera. If you are careful you can capture a very good image. Once you are don't with it in Photoshop or GIMP it won't matter where it came from.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 03:32 PM   #8
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Re: restoring old photographs

Martha:

I scanned in or photographed a bunch of old B&W prints from the 20s - 50s and fixed them up in Photoshop and GIMP. Unfortunately I didn't keep many of the originals so I can't show you before and after shots. I did find a photo of an old friend from the 60s that I scanned in and fixed. I have it in photoshop format with the the original and a modified copy in layers. I will try to post the two here so you can see how easily you can "redo" an old picture. To get from the original to the "fixed" I simply corrected the color with "levels" and I then wiped out the scratches with the clone tool.

Don
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 03:47 PM   #9
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Re: restoring old photographs

Nice restoration job, bad hat.

I do have a scanner, one of the cheapest ones you can buy.

Thanks for all the tips folks. Once I start on this I'll be back with more questions.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 06:37 PM   #10
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Re: restoring old photographs

Quote:
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bad hat.
The hat was one of a series -- see below. The ladies liked it back then -- go figure. Maybe Az can explain it for us.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 08:09 PM   #11
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Re: restoring old photographs

I think that fatty he's tokin' explains a lot...
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-28-2006, 08:22 PM   #12
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Re: restoring old photographs

Quote:
I also have a number of slides from my parents. Is there anywhere that would scan them in bulk for not too large a price? Or do I have to sit and scan one by one? There are several hundred slides.
Believe it or not, I was able to "scan" slides like this: I had a light shining on white paper, and simply held each slide up to the lens of my Mavica camera, letting the light come through. It was able to focus on it, and the results were perfect. Probably won't work with most cameras, but it's worth a try.

I did this with a bunch of old family slides, and made albums as Christmas presents for the rest of the family.
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-30-2006, 11:17 AM   #13
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Re: restoring old photographs

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
The hat was one of a series -- see below. The ladies liked it back then -- go figure.
Maybe it's the wild-eyed bad-boy Mennonite image-- that used to be a big draw in Lancaster County, PA! All you need now is a horse-drawn carriage with tail lights...
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Re: restoring old photographs
Old 11-30-2006, 07:25 PM   #14
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Re: restoring old photographs

After mentioning GIMP here I decided to updated my version. I noticed that wingimp.org is now charging for their version. This is entirely OK in the open source world. I suspect wingimp.org adds value by bundling the (neccessary) GTK graphical toolkit which is needed by GIMP and tying it all together with a nice installer.

The GIMP project, however, continues to develop GIMP free for Linux/Unix and maintains a free binary for Windows. You can get GIMP for Windows free at: http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/ But you need to download both the GTK installer and the GIMP installer.
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