On dad’s last trip to visit Maw Maw in Kentucky, he found a box of old photos and decided to being them back to scan and preserve them on cd.

Last night he emailed me a few to see if I could restore them at all and I started working on this first one here. This is my first try at restoring a damaged photo and I’m sure there are many things that I haven’t yet learned that could be done to improve the finished product, but it’s at least better than when it started out.

I love looking at the before and after pictures and thought other people might be interested in seeing a little of the process. I’ve spent about 1.5 – 2 hours on this one photo. The original scanned file is over 5000 pixels wide so a lot of that time was spent cloning out tiny tiny spots that you can’t tell a difference with in these 600px wide photos I’m posting…but anyway – here ya go!


Bessie Giddens-Welch, Dixie Buchannon-Giddens, Ralph Giddens
(my great grandmother, great great grandmother, and great uncle)

1. My first step was to convert is to black and white. There are a lot of ways to do that in photoshop but I usually go with Image>Adjustments>Gradient Map>Black and White.

2. After that I fooled around with Levels, Curves, and Exposure until the light parts were light enough and the dark parts were dark enough without getting too noisy (aka fuzzy). I then used the burn tool to darken the facial features and details/shadows on the clothing.

3. The next part was the most tedious. All the most noticeable black spots, creases, scratches, and dust were taken out with the clone tool. I also used the blur tool at 100% opacity to blend the more pixelated spots on the faces and hair.

And there you have it. I may still go back and mess with it a bit more, but I’m pretty happy with it for now.

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