Today, through the magic of technology, damaged photos that used to be tossed when they were unfit for framing or scrapbooking, are just a few Photoshop Elements tricks away from being almost as good as new!
In the bottom of a poorly stored bin of photos, I discovered two school photos of my Jim that were each tightly curled up like rolled cigarettes from moisture exposure. I wish I had taken a shot of it to show you, but they were a sad sight, indeed. Here's one of them as it looked when I scanned it into my computer: Isn't that just the cutest photo? It appears to be handcolored, and I even found the note that little Jimmy's mom had written to the photographer requesting which photo she wanted colored. The photo is actually only about 3x5 inches, but I wanted you to see the extent of the damage.
So after scanning, I opened it in Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, cropped it, and enlarged it so I could see better. The "Spot Healing Brush Tool" is really all you need to make those pesky cracks in the photo magically disappear. There is a learning curve, I admit, so be sure to "Duplicate" your image once you crop it, so that you keep a copy intact in case you want to go back and start all over. Experiment with altering your brush size. For the removal of small spots, you will want to choose a smaller brush...perhaps 15 pixels...maybe 20. But for the lapels and the necktie, I increased the brush size large enough for the program to read the pattern, so it knows what to eliminate. Ditto with the background, although I did use the "Smudge Tool" on occasion when I wasn't getting the results I wanted from the "Spot Healing Brush" alone. Here's the "Before & After":Pretty cool, huh? Trust me...I'm hardly an expert, but I both amazed and proud of myself for figuring it out and I want to encourage you to jump right in and give it a whirl. I wanted the image to be a little sharper, so I selected "Enhance", then "Adjust Lighting", then "Shadows/Highlights". I lightened the shadows by 25% and it miraculously gave me the results I was looking for. Don't be afraid to experiment! (There is an "Undo" button and a "Redo" button in the upper right hand corner!)
The other photograph of Jimmy is black & white and although it had less cracks, it was even more damaged with some sort of an oil stain. This time, I felt that it was better to simply crop off the major area of damage, fix the cracks as described above, and adjust the lighting again as before. The trickiest area here was the eye on the right. I had to make my spot healing brush really small to be able to remove the cracks without harming the eye itself. I'm certain that an expert could do a more impressive job, but at least I managed to save these adorable photos.I know many of you have Photoshop installed into your computers, but are afraid to use it. I hope I've given you that little nudge to give it try.
Let me know how you make out! -Enikö