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Trying to restore old color photo

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I'm in the process of attempting to restore this photograph of my family, as a gift to my now 86 y.o. mom. (The girl in the pink dress is me, when I was about 14 or 15.)

This picture is from 1979 or 1980 and is (please forgive my ignorance of the proper terminology) I think "matted" onto a faux wooden frame.  It's too big to scan and so I tried to take a good photograph of it.
I'm trying to figure out how to make the background on the right side match the coloring on the left side.

I'm also trying to decide what would be best to remove the stains (?) on parts of the picture, as well as scratches.  I've tried the clone stamp but wasn't that pleased.

Any ideas as to what else I should do?  Thank you for your assistance! :)



Edited by Wuvmy3kitties
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The best way I know to make the sides match is to:


Open the image in Paint.NET.

Duplicate the image into another layer.

Use the Rectangular Select Tool to select the darker region in the top layer.

(Note the darker region doesn't go quite to the top of the photo. Take this into account when making the selection.)

Use the Move Selection Tool to adjust the selection if necessary. Be as exact as possible.

Invert the selection with Edit>Invert Selection.

Erase the selected region with Edit>Erase Selection.

Make the lower (lighter) layer the active layer.

Use Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast to darken the lower layer to match the upper layer. You will probably need to play around for a while with the Brightness and Contrast controls, but you should be able to match the areas so that the edge is nearly imperceptible.

Merge the layers.

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I'm not a big fan of the Clone Stamp. It has its uses, but there are often better methods, in my opinion


You have three types of areas, which require somewhat different approaches. First, the background; second, the clothes; third, the people.


I doubt if you care much if the background of the original picture is preserved exactly as it was. If I were doing it, I'd try to completely remove the background and generate a fake one that looks similar. Removing the background is quite a bit of work, but with a little care, it can be done well. It requires doing it in sections using mostly the the Eraser Tool. You'll almost certainly want to add a colored background layer so you're not erasing against the checkerboard pattern. Use a color that contrasts with the image colors, so you know what's been erased, but not so obviously so that it's distracting. I might use a muted medium-green for this photo.  Once a narrow band is erased around the figures, it's easy to eliminate the the rest. The difficulty is there are quite a few areas of low contrast between the foreground and background, though I don't see any that would cause huge problems. To replace the background, a slight gradient of something near the original background color, with some vignetting would probably look better than the original.


If you're not into blatant fakery the way I am, and you'd prefer to keep the original background, I wouldn't use the Clone Brush. Instead, for each area that needs fixing, I'd proceed as follows:

Copy the picture into another, lower, layer, then make the new layer invisible.

Using the Eraser with a soft setting, erase the area that needs fixing.

(You might want to use BoltBait's Object>Feather Object plugin to soften the erased edges even more, for a smoother edge transition.)

Make the lower level visible (but leave it as the lower layer).

Use Edit>Select All to select the layer.

Use the Move Selected Pixels to move the lower layer around until you find a region that fills in the erased region well . You can rotate and stretch the lower layer as needed.

Use the Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast and perhaps Hue/Saturation to improve the match.

Once satisfied, Merge the layers.

If only part of the erased region can be matched, that's fine. Just fill it in, and repeat the process for the area that didn't match..


(Saying I wouldn't use the Clone Brush is an overstatement. I'd certainly use it for eliminating small specks, where the procedure I describe above is overkill. Using the Clone Brush is much quicker.)


The clothes are a bit more of a problem. You don't want to drastically change them. Fortunately, most of them are in pretty good shape. The exception is the suit of the guy on the right side. Off hand, I'm not quite sure the best way to fix that. You could try the clone brush. If I get a chance sometime soon, I'll see what I can come up with. That's the type of thing that requires a bit of experimentation; at least for me.


The good news is that the most important elements, the people, are in fairly good condition, so you don't have to do much. Once you get the problems with the other elements fixed, you might want to experiment with Michael Vinther's Laplacian Pyrimaid Filter. It can do a lot to punch up photos. Don't be misled by the examples, which are mostly increasing details to get a certain look. It can also smooth images and make photos look clearer. Of course you also want to try simpler things like contrast, brightness, and saturation adjustments, and perhaps sharpening.



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I made a version of the photo with the only changes being to remove the change in contrast on one side, and the substitution of a new background. I wanted to show how much that improves the image. I didn't do some of the feathering tricks which would improve the blending of the foreground and background. I'd first want to adjust the contrast and such of the foreground. BTW, I should mention BoltBait's Photo>Combined Photo Adjustments. It contains a number of adjustments to spiff up photos.



PhotoFix3 photo PhotoFix3_zpshvnbbyrg.png


To erase around something in an image, I suggest first using a fairly large eraser -- say a radius of 10. Erase all the large curves. When you reach areas with sharp curves or angles, or small indentations, skip them. When done, go back with a small eraser size and take care of the tight areas. Remember to erase short strokes, letting up on the mouse button often. If you don't, when you make a mistake and erase something you didn't mean to, the Undo will undo all the good erasures along with the bad. (As often as I remind myself to do that, I always forget!)


Make sure you keep the original version around. Sometimes when you finish, you'll find you erased too far in on an edge. Just use the Lasso tool to cut the area from the original photo, and paste it as a new layer into the edited photo. (It will paste into the exact same location, as long as you haven't cropped the new version -- which you should not do!) Then merge down. You'll have a second opportunity to erase it correctly.


One additional comment. You might think it would be a good idea to use the Magic Wand in areas where the contrast is high between the foreground and background, I've seldom had good luck with that method. I almost always end up with a raggedy edge, and pixels erased that shouldn't have been.Perhaps it's just my technique, or lack there of.

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Remember to erase short strokes, letting up on the mouse button often. If you don't, when you make a mistake and erase something you didn't mean to, the Undo will undo all the good erasures along with the bad. (As often as I remind myself to do that, I always forget!)

Me too!:lol:


Red ochre Plugin pack.............. Diabolical Drawings ................Real Paintings



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