Project : Re­pair your oldily pho­tos

Clean up pic­tures to pre­serve your past

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

it will take

From 5 min­utes to 1 hour per photo

you will learn

How to use colour cor­rec­tion, cloning and path tools to fix pics

You’ll need

Pho­to­shop, Affin­ity Photo or a sim­i­lar ed­i­tor that al­lows work­ing on highly spe­cific ar­eas The beauty of dig­i­tal stor­age is that you can make old pho­tos in­stantly ac­ces­si­ble, but sim­ply set­ting aside a few days to hun­ker down with your scan­ner to pro­duce a mas­sive folder on your Mac of un­sorted, un­pro­cessed im­ages is merely the mod­ern­day equiv­a­lent of a dusty old box in the at­tic. Tak­ing a more fo­cussed ap­proach is key: scan im­por­tant, one-of-a-kind shots, and make sure you tag the re­sul­tant files with a rough date and a few key­words so you can find them.

More than any­thing, digi­tis­ing old pho­tos is a chance to undo the rav­ages of time. Jobs such as restor­ing colour, re­mov­ing tears and fix­ing wa­ter stains are all rel­a­tively sim­ple, and we’ll walk you through how to per­form these tasks ef­fec­tively and in­vis­i­bly, leav­ing you with fresh-look­ing, print-ready im­ages free of the arte­facts they picked up over the years.

For the pur­poses of this piece we’ll ex­plain our ex­am­ples us­ing Pho­to­shop, yet you’ll find many of its fea­tures, key­board short­cuts and work­ings are repli­cated in Affin­ity Photo.

Your source ma­te­rial is the im­age you scan into your Mac. Scan your pho­tos at the native res­o­lu­tion of your scan­ner at its high­est colour count. Use the native file for­mat of your im­age ed­i­tor while you work – in Pho­to­shop, that’s a PSD, while in Affin­ity Photo it’s the af­photo for­mat. Apart from be­ing loss­less, us­ing an im­age ed­i­tor’s native for­mat will do the best job of pre­serv­ing lay­ers and a his­tory of your ed­its. Lossy for­mats like JPEG are best used when the fix­ing up is fin­ished and you’re ready to print or share a photo on­line.

Us­ing the spot heal­ing brush

Pass­ing in­sects and wa­ter dam­age, as well as greasy fin­ger­prints all leave their mark, and un­der­stand­ing how the clone stamp and spot heal­ing brush tools work will be a ma­jor step for­ward when it comes to fix­ing old pho­tos.

The sim­plest way to lose dust spots and wa­ter marks is to use the spot heal­ing brush. As you drag this tool across your im­age, it sam­ples nearby pix­els and paints them over the parts of your im­age un­der the

Digi­tis­ing old pho­tos is an op­por­tu­nity to get rid of the rav­ages of time

pointer, repli­cat­ing tex­ture and light­ing as it goes. When it comes to clear­ing up dust spots on oth­er­wise clear ar­eas of sky it’s amaz­ingly ef­fec­tive, of­ten re­quir­ing no fol­low-up work. It can also be used to good ef­fect to clear up fa­cial blem­ishes, al­though that should be be­yond the scope of the at-home his­to­rian.

Us­ing the clone stamp

When dust or wa­ter spots ob­scure finer de­tail, you’ll find the spot heal­ing brush tool leaves ob­vi­ous traces where you’ve been work­ing. These will of­ten present as blurry smudges in your im­age that draw at­ten­tion to the fact it has been worked on, and in most cases will be less de­sir­able than the smudges your work was in­tended to ob­scure.

As you start work­ing on larger prob­lems, learn how to use the clone stamp tool. It works like any other brush in Pho­to­shop; choose it by press­ing s and you’ll see you can change the brush’s flow rate, opac­ity, the hard­ness of its edges and so on, giv­ing you lots of flex­i­bil­ity over the ef­fect you cre­ate.

This tool copies and pastes an area of your im­age over the area you drag the pointer over, re­cre­at­ing de­tail as it goes. å- click the part of your im­age you want to recre­ate, then drag over the part of the im­age you want to ob­scure. It’s best to vary your view of the im­age, so work both fully zoomed in and zoomed out to make sure you’re mak­ing changes aren’t ob­vi­ous in the fin­ished im­age.

You should also pay at­ten­tion to the check­box in the op­tions bar that’s la­belled ‘Aligned’, as this will af­fect ex­actly where the clone stamp takes its sam­ple from. If Aligned is unchecked, the first place you å- clicked will be where Pho­to­shop takes its sam­ple from and will re­set to that po­si­tion ev­ery time you re­lease the mouse or track­pad but­ton.

The faster you work, the clum­sier your re­sults will look. The nadir of any cloner’s ef­forts is a soft, de­tail-free air­brush ef­fect that will make your ef­forts look very ob­vi­ous. Make plen­ti­ful use of the Undo tool to step back if you make changes that don’t look good.

Im­prove a photo’s con­trast

If your pho­tos have been left on a mantle­piece for a num­ber of years, it’s likely their colours will have faded dras­ti­cally. Even im­ages kept in the dark are likely to be less con­trasty than their mod­ern coun­ter­parts. Pho­tos that have been ex­posed to the at­mos­phere – bright light plus en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors such as poor air qual­ity – will show a greater drop-off.

For­tu­nately, restor­ing faded colours is a quick job. A quick yank on Pho­to­shop’s con­trast slider may yield fine re­sults, but us­ing

Dust spots like these are easy to fix thanks to the spot heal­ing brush, which au­to­mat­i­cally sam­ples nearby pix­els.

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