Thursday, May 7, 2015

From Black & White to Full Color

From black & white to full color is what I call Colorizing and this is what I have done for these photos. With Matt's permission, he allowed me to display my work on his photos. All the colors in the final photo where to Matt's specifications, the way he remembers the farms he grew up on. Two photos, one black & white, the other was hand colored years ago incorrectly. I suppose that is the beauty on digital coloring, once you paint the color you can change and correct easily. 

I used Photoshop for all the coloring. Writing is not one of my strong suits but for this blog article I thought I would give a hand at writing my procedures used, not in step by step but what tools I used. This might be more interesting to folks who know the Photoshop tools. If you are not familiar and don't want to cross your eyes figuring out these terms, just scroll down to my "before and after" photos. 

Here goes..... Tools

  • Color Adjustment toolsI mainly used the Color adjustment tool for most of the coloring. Using the brush tool to literally paint the barns or trees or landscape etc. 
  • Blending Tools - I used the blending tools to blend the color into the image so the details of the photo come through the color. That's the fun part, you have to try the different blend tools to get the color and look you want. 
  • Opacity Adjustments - Some colors I also adjusted the layer opacity. 
  • Duplicate Layers - Some layers I duplicated and the colors became more richer, then I toned down the opacity of the duplicate layer. 
  • Blend Modes - Some places I would choose the Soft Light blend mode and turned down the brush opacity instead of the layer opacity to paint parts and increased the brush opacity to paint other parts on the same layer. I kept trying these blend mode tools until I said out loud "ooooh!" then that's the setting I wanted. (If you say "ooooh!" only in your head and not out loud it's not the setting and you keep trying). 
  • Blur Filters - On almost all the colors I used the Glassian Blur filter tool to soften the edges blending in the color more. 

     Organize Layers is a must

  • I named each layer the object or objects I colored. This way later if I need to change the color I can find layer for that object easily and change the color without creating a new layer repainting that object. I must have changed the barn and out buildings at least 4-5 or more times and the wheat field at least 3 or more times and the cedar trees about 3 time etc....I used about 5 or 6 different green colors with different blend modes so the landscape is not all the same color.

Now the hand colored photo was more trickier for using the blend modes because the color I am painting on top of the original color is blending in with the original color. Therefor the color is not what I chose. I mostly used the color or normal blend modes and adjust the layer opacity and or the brush opacity to get the color I want. 

Using color adjustment or sometimes photo adjustment tools gives me a layer mask which is really great. I invert the mask from white to black which hides the color until I start to paint. White brush adds and black brush subtracts. For example the barn I painted red so the color adjustment layer has the red color icon and I am painting with but my bush tool which shows either white or black. Toggling back and forth with the alt key so I can paint red with the white brush to add use the alt key to the  black brush to erase red color where I over painted. Masks are wonderful for that. Keep in mind you have to have the mask selected for this to work. Looking at my Layers panel almost every layer has a mask. Color adjustment layers gives me the color icons to use when I need to change the color. See simple isn't it?

The History panel is invaluable to me. I can't tell you how many time I clicked back in the history panels to undo. 

I also used different brushes changing the scatter, rotation and distance settings to add purple lilacs to the lilac bushes, and the leaf brush to scatter fall leaves under the trees. Round brushes to add grapes to the grape vine, orange ditch lilies behind the shed, marigolds along the fence and purple and white wild sweet peas flower along the road.

Once I had the photo completely colored I used Curves and Levels adjustment tools for the brightness and color until it looked good to me. I used Camera Raw filter to adjust the clarity to make the photo a little more clearer.

Here are the before and after photos.

After many email and phone calls back and forth, Matt approved the final photo. I had soooo much fun working these photos and great conversations on the phone with Matt. He has great pride and love for his family farms and these photos. Some of the barns and building are gone now. One farm house burned down and another is in sad condition. So it's no wonder these photos are a treasure. 

I am very grateful he found me and asked me to work on his project. Thank you Matt for allowing me to share your photos.

I can do the same for your black & white photo or faded photo or correct color. You can contact me though this blog or my email
or my Facebook page
Restored Memories on Facebook

Now when I drive in the country and see a farm I think of Matt! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some Recent Photos I Have Restored

It's been a while since I posted my work on my blog. I have an actual studio now where folks can bring their photos to me, instead of just email. So I have been very busy getting my studio setup and working. Here are some of my recent projects.

 Thank you Betty, David, Lori and Pam for allowing me to work on and display your photos. I will post my studio information and location on my next blog. I am still taking projects over the internet as well, either through my Facebook page, email....and from here on my blog too.

So busy, busy, busy and I love every minute of it!

Restored Memories on Facebook
Email address -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Adding People to a Photo

Original -  William, Clayton, Bob and Greg
 This is my sister-in-law Dian's family, her "My Guys" photo. One guy (below) was left out by not being there at the time of the original photo (on the left) shoot.

The "Out" guy Dale
Dian knows I love working with photos. She of course asked me to work on this on. Taking her son's picture later and asking me to place him with the others to complete the photo.

Here is my final. The tools I used on Dales photo is the quick selection tool, refine edges tool and then saved it as a .psd file. Then I placed him in the original photo to join the other guys placing him between Bob and Greg. On Dale's layer I lowered the opacity so I can see Bob and Greg while still seeing Dale at the same time. I then could erase parts of Dale using a soft edge brush so he is standing behind Bob and Greg. (Sorry Dale, that sounds kind of cruel doesn't it). 

Dale's coloring was more lighter and whiter compared to the other guys, so on his layer I used the Levels and Brightness\Saturation adjustment tools to match the rest of the photo. His skin was still too white so I found this skin coloring technic on TipSquirrel  by Janine Smith
Janine has really good tutorials.

I think everyone was happy with the results.

Without Dale

With Dale

They are such handsome guys. Thank you Dian for letting me work on your project and using it for my blog article.

I can also take people out of photos, but that will be another article.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. If you have people to add or omit, please contact me by through this blog or email me at or join me on my Facebook page Restored Memories/Misplaced Ancestors/Lost Ancestors on Facebook

Friday, December 5, 2014

Her Photo is Stuck to the Glass

Lori came to my studio a few weeks ago with her photo. It is stuck to a piece of glass and damaged by being in water. Removing the photo the ink stuck to the glass, so better to leave it alone. I scanned it for her with the glass and it scanned perfectly, so I knew I can restore and create a great copy for her.

 She was having fun with her granddaughter that day as you can see. The water damage created these colorful snowflake like spots all over, and especially on her granddaughter's eye.

I was able to remove the colored snowflakes. The eye was just a matter of copying her good eye and moving it over and flipping to replace the bad eye and using the warp tool to adjust it the same size and position of her original eye. Then enhancing the colors really made the photo pop. I also enlarged her photo and printed. I print with my Epson Artisan printer using Epson premium photo paper and Epson ink for quality results.

Lori was pleased with the results and so am I. Thank you Lori for allowing me to work on your very special photo.

I can do the same for your photos. Contact me through my blog, email address or My Facebook page Restored Memories \ Misplaced Ancestors \ Lost Ancestors

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Large Aerial Photographs of a Family Farm

Courtesy of Cynthia, Before picture
After picture

I had the honor of restoring Cynthia's family farm. Actually aerial photos of her farm. They are large 16 x 20 very faded and dark photos. The same farm in both photos only about 20 or 30 years difference. Both photos were probably black & white originally and I could tell they were hand colorized. I drive by the farm quite often on my way to Collette's Vintage & Antique Mall.

My scanner is not big enough to scan these photos in one scan. I called around looking for a professional camera store who might have a very large scanner. Nope.... they just scan in pieces and then used Photoshop's automate > photo-merge tool to piece them together.....Well I can do that and so I did. Easy peasy it was and I had her two very large photos digitized in my computer.

Now for the hard work. There was a lot to do getting rid of the scratches, and dark dirty patches, and bringing back color to the faded out areas, getting the whole photo as even as possible in light and shadows.

The tools I used the most were the patch tool, healing tool and clone tool. Many masking layers to help lighten the dark areas and bring color back in the faded areas. I love the masking tool. Then it took trial and error with the adjustment tools to get the right brightness and colors.
Courtesy of Cynthia, Before picture
After picture
I always love the original photos, but sometime if left exposed to light too long they fade. So digital restoration creates a copy to display is the best solution. Store the original in a safe place out of sunlight pulling them out from time to time to show the family. Leave the new restored photos displaying in your rooms.

Thank you Cynthia for choosing me to restore your treasured photos. It's an amazing farm.

I can so the same for your photos. Contact me though this blog....or use my email my Facebook page
Restored Memories / Misplaced Ancestors

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunset on a Cloud

I was out and about this evening and we had a sudden downpour of rain that lasted a short time. As I was leaving the store, I saw people taking photos over yonder. I looked up and saw this amazing cloud lit up with the rays of the evening sunset.

So I whipped out my cell phone to take my picture of this wonderfully colored cloud. (What was life like before cell phones, I can barely remember).

So when I got home I put this in my computer and posted it on my Facebook page. Then I opened up Photoshop and decided to get rid of the man made objects and just have mother nature only in my photo. I tweaked the color more vibrant just a little. The cell phone did not show the amazing yellows and oranges I saw when gazing on this cloud.

So here is my "Sunset on a Cloud"

Visit my Facebook page. I think you will be glad you did.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Beloved Grandmothers

Another fun project from Sylvia Cross. These ladies are her beloved great grandmother and grandmother. Thank you Sylvia for choosing me to restore your photos. They are a treasure indeed. Enjoy!

Visit my Facebook page

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Challenging Polaroid Photographs

Some photos are so damaged they can't be restored. Some are so badly faded, scratched or damage the photo can only be made better but not great. These two photos came close and I could only make them better.

Zola West asked me to restore her two 4 generation photographs. These photos were taken when Polaroids photos had to have a fixing agent spread across to prevent fading of the black and white photo. If not done properly you can smear the photo as you can see here the same white smear on both of these photos.

Photo courtesy of Zola West

Photo courtesy of Zola West
These photos originally are about 2 x 3 inches in size, very faded in many places along with a ton of marks, spots and scratches.

My mission was to make the photos bigger, clean them up and get rid of the white smears. For the landscape photo where their hair is chopped off, I was asked if I could add the tops to their hair. I knew right off putting the tops of their hair was going to be the easiest of the tasks. 

The hardest challenges was great grandmother in both photos her face is missing many features and making their skin smooth.

I made very high 1200 pixel scans of both photos adjusting the contrast and color during the scan to give me more detail of the pictures to work with. You can see the zillion of spots, scratches and smears much better.

Scanning them at 1200 pixels with levels and contrast adjustments shows more details

My first step was to use the black and white adjustment, I find this works best on photos with no or little color. I tried several tools and technics involving masks and filters but I ended up using mostly the spot, healing and clone tools for most of this. It took a very long time and much patients and after a while they started looking promising. 

Not knowing what their true facial features look like, especially great grandma who is seated front and center. I had to ask Zola for another photo of the great grandmother at about the same age. Zola gave me one that I was able to use and was able to place her photo on top of this one and using the masking tool to erase all the parts I didn't want. Then lowered the opacity for that layer so it blended in with her original face. I scrolled though the blend modes to find the one that seems to work the best. I also used the puppet tool to align her features.

The last steps I used levels, color curve, and brightness and contrast adjustment layers. Zola wanted them to be sepia tone and using the photo adjustment seems the best. 

Here is the final results.
They are not perfect but much better. Thank you Zola for giving me the honor of restoring your beloved photos to the best of my abilities.

If you have a photo needing restoration. Just mail me a copy and I will give you a free estimate. My fees are very reasonable!

Email address: or find me on Facebook at

Friday, April 18, 2014

WANTED: The family of John Cole from Mifflin, Ohio

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John Cole and I met at an antique store in Michigan. We talked about how he managed to be living in the antique store. He seemed to be suffering from a bit of a memory loss replying back "He doesn't remember, but he would very much like to find his family again". John is from Mifflin Ohio according credentials on the back of his photo. So he came home with me and I did some research on to see if I can joggle his memory again, I found a John Cole in....

1870 living in Mifflin OH with his father Benjamin. John was 23 at the time and a school teacher. 

1880 age 35 in Mifflin OH and a farmer, he is married to  Martha and has children Roy and Edna

1900 age 55 married to Melinda, he is a farmer. Living with him is Roy, Edna, Harry, Benjamin and Clayton

1910 age 64 married to Melissa and still farming in Mifflin OH

1920 age 78 married to Melissa and retired in Mifflin OH. Living with them is Edna, Benjamin and Clayton

1930 age 87 married to Melissa, retired and now living in Bethany, Harrison Co. Missouri

1931 age 88 he died in Bethany Missouri.
He was amazed but still could not remember any of this. So it is vital we find his family and being back home might help his memory.

If you recognize this man or know someone who knows of John Cole's family, please contact me...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

This Is What I Love To Do

This is just fun, fun, fun to do. Some tares mended, spots removed, brightening color and it turns out wonderful.

 Thank you to my gracious client for allowing me to post her photo on my blog and Facebook page. 

I can do the same with your photo. Just contact me through this blog or email: 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What a Handsome Guy!

This is Mark, he's my grandson and he's such a handsome guy don't you think? I took this photo and thought it was good except for the red eyes. I am not a photographer by no means, so I let my Photoshop software make up for my lack of photography skills, and it  took care of that quite well. With a little improvement here and a little tweaking there... and now his photo is wow! When I retouch photos, I don't mean to alter physically, I just make small improvements. Like remove acne, red eye, whiten teeth and improve brightness and color making the photo pop!

I can do the same for your photos. Just contact me through this blog or my email address

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Marcia Kennedy from Seattle

"Marcia Kennedy, Seattle, My Cousin" is what written on the back of this lovely photo. She has a pretty smile, 1940ish curly blonde hair and Claudette Colbert style eye browses. 

A quick research on I found a Marcia Kennedy in a 1940 census, born about 1904 in Michigan, married to Fred W. Kennedy living in Seattle Washington with their 3 kids Clyde, Myrtle and Verlin. Also living with them at that time are 3 children Katherine Simpokos, Dorothy Simpokos and William Simpokos. Perhaps they are nieces and nephew of either Marcia or Fred.

I found this photo in an antique store in Michigan. I am not positive I found the correct Marcia in this census record, there were other Marcia Kennedy's listed. But this one makes sense, my finding the photo in Michigan, Marcia is born in Michigan.

If you are looking for Kennedy or Simpoko surnames or if you know someone who is, please forward my blog article to them. I would dearly love for Marcia to be with her family again.

This photo can be found at my store Misplaced Ancestors. Below is a link.

Name:Marcia Kennedy
Estimated birth year:abt 1904
Marital Status:Married
Relation to Head of House:Wife
Home in 1940:SeattleKingWashington
Map of Home in 1940:View Map
Street:16th Ave N E
House Number:8005
Inferred Residence in 1935:Rural, Thurston, Washington
Residence in 1935:Rural, Thurston, Washington
Resident on farm in 1935:Yes
Sheet Number:4A
Attended School or College:No
Highest Grade Completed:High School, 4th year
Weeks Worked in 1939:0
Income Other Sources:Yes
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Marvin Kennedy46
Marcia Kennedy36
Clyde Kennedy18
Myrtle Kennedy16
Verlin Kennedy15
Katherine Simpokos14
Dorothy Simpokos12
William Simpokos10

 View blank form 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mary and Florence Dull

This is a post card dated July 25, 1910 of 7 year old Mary Dull and her little 1 year old sister Florence. The card is in poor shape but the children are adorable, identified and dated. Perhaps with their mother's handwriting on the back.

This post card measures 3 1/2 X 5 1/2 inches. Very poor condition, dirty on the front and there is a crease near the top that bends easily. Still a very desirable find for the family genealogist.

These sisters can be found at this link

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ernie and Marion Virginia Marhar

Meet Ernie Marhar and Marion Virginia Marhar or maybe it's Markar. I had no luck finding any information on them. I can't even say Marion is Ernie's daughter.

 I found these two photos in the same basket in an antique store in Michigan.

Ernie sitting on his front porch with a cigar wearing a shirt and tie. 
He might have just come home after working or it's a sunny Sunday afternoon after church.

Marion is an adorable chubby cheek 9 month old baby. My guess the photos are dated 1920-1930.

If you are researching Marhar or Markar or know of someone who is. Here is a link to these photos in my Etsy shop.

Or contact me on this blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Marguerite Jenks

I found this baby photo of Marguerite Jenks in an antique store in Michigan. There is no other information on this adorable baby. 

I used to search this name and there is a 1910 census from Charlevoix, Michigan listing a Marguerite Jenks 3 years old, born in 1907. This photo could be from that time. The census lists her parents as Robert H. Jenks, mother is Lizzie K Jenks and a sister named Esther L. Jenks.

I am not claiming this is photo is the Marguerite Jenks in Charlevoix but it could very possibly be her. If you know anyone researching Jenks name, especially in Michigan. Please forward this blog post to them.

I have this photo for sale at my store. Click this link below.
Robert H Jenks
Father's Birthplace:Michigan
Mother's name:Lizzie K Jenks