Family Photo Restoration Project

Created: 01/12/13
Last Edited: 01/14/13
Miraculously, it's been found and the search (and the banter) is finally over. As far as I know, this is only image we have of my father as a child.
  • For years I would raid old family albums and take photos to scan for myself. Some I scanned and digitally restored, some I enlarged and framed, so naturally my father thought I had taken this one too and lost it. So he would occasionally ask, (as if for the first time) "hey, there's a picture of me on a horse…." and I would interrupt and say "you mean the one when you were a baby? No, I don't have it!" It was a head shaker for a while... I had no idea what he was talking about.
  • When my parents immigrated to the US from Sicily they took what they could conveniently pack or hand carry. So many of their photos were cut and placed to fit in albums… like this one. I noticed that some photos my parents had were reshot at one time---having a photographer take a photo of the original photo----but this one is the original. It's aged, cracked and fragile the way you can imagine it. What a great family artifact to discover after years of searching. I'm going to restore this one for sure. He was so happy to have found it. And so was I.
    Well I'm just about done and I'm happy with how it's turning out. Sometimes I find myself resorting to the same old techniques, even though I know Photoshop 5.5 is insane with new tools and filters. It's easy to edit when it's totally automatic, but I feel it takes some of the artistry out of the process.
  • My goal essentially is to have the photo printed and framed for my folks. I started out with applying the Dust and Scratches filter to get some of the tiny dots cleared up. Even though it saved me some time, it leaves some funky artifacts after the filter is applied leaving some areas left to patch up. Like the stitching around the saddle. I could have used the Wacom tablet to help redraw the wave of the stitch but that's where I felt like I could leave it be.

    There's so much more I can do to the digital image itself, aside from the physical imperfections of the paper, the actual focus of the photo is imperfect and is very soft around the edges. I could have started to redraw some things… like the mane on the horse, or the legs. I just stuck with the cloning tool and found some nice lines and textures to replicate some areas.
  • I really love the Replace Color adjustment option. With the age and color of the paper itself had three tones going on: red, brown and yellow. To even things out I selected the red pixels and pulled back the lightness and saturation to balance out the overall color to keep the sepia tones. I pulled back one tone to keep the photo as "original" as I could and find a balance that was eye pleasing. I've learned over the years to know when to stop and not over do it. I am looking forward to printing this on photo paper.

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