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!

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