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Old June 23rd, 2009, 01:45 PM   #1
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Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?

I'm familiar with Photoshop Elements, been using it for years for basic tasks of photo editing. Recently I was given a "job" to restore a bunch of old family photos, some are really poor quality. I tried the basic tools of Elements and it made a big difference. However, I want to really improve/repair/retouch and print them out to acceptable quality. Is Photoshop CS4 the solution. I'm willing to put in the time to learn it. Elements doesn't seem to have enough tools to get the job done. I'm open to all ideas about which program(s) to use.

Thanks,
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 03:06 PM   #2
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I've used PS to do some restoration and it works great BUT be prepared, it takes time and patience. Thank goodness for alt,control, Z ;-) I'm using an older version of PS (version 7? I think) and while I'm certainly no expert it does a fine job.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 03:25 PM   #3
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I'm with Don. I'm no expert either, but have managed to pull off pretty good restoration attemps. Photoshop is amazing.

Here's a before and after of my late grandmother as an example.
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Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-original.jpg   Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-retouched.jpg  

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Old June 23rd, 2009, 07:53 PM   #4
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Specifically, which version of PS are you guys using?
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 08:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norris Combs View Post
Specifically, which version of PS are you guys using?
I'm using CS3.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 11:03 PM   #6
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Nice work! I'm debating whether to get CS4 or not, maybe CS3 or older will do, for a much lower cost.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 01:20 AM   #7
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Here's a massive restoration that I've been working on in fits and starts. The original photograph, on the left, was in about 20 pieces. I scanned them separately and then put them together like a jigsaw puzzle in Photoshop. Then I started on the restoration. Note, in particular, the little girl's left arm, and the chair, right pants leg and right forehead of the older boy. This was done in Photoshop CS2, though now I use CS4 which has even better restoration tools.
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Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-untitled-1.bmp  
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:07 AM   #8
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I'd definitely recommend Photoshop for the ability to achieve technical excellence with your image manipulations. Their 30 day trial versions are also handy.

Another thing to be aware of is the infra-red scanning technologies that come with some scanners. (I have a Microtek ArtixScan F1.) This feature enables an "auto healing" to occur on photos where scratches or other damage is physically present on the surface. This can be a huge time saver for you.

Andrew

Last edited by Andrew Smith; June 24th, 2009 at 02:08 AM. Reason: spelling correction
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Old June 24th, 2009, 10:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
Here's a massive restoration that I've been working on in fits and starts. The original photograph, on the left, was in about 20 pieces. I scanned them separately and then put them together like a jigsaw puzzle in Photoshop. Then I started on the restoration. Note, in particular, the little girl's left arm, and the chair, right pants leg and right forehead of the older boy. This was done in Photoshop CS2, though now I use CS4 which has even better restoration tools.
I love it! If I didn't see the original, I would've never known you fixed the defects/missing pieces. This gives me hope for some of my photos. The man's and the little boy's faces are gonna be hard work!!! Thanks for posting.

Last edited by Norris Combs; June 24th, 2009 at 12:12 PM.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Smith View Post
I'd definitely recommend Photoshop for the ability to achieve technical excellence with your image manipulations. Their 30 day trial versions are also handy.

Another thing to be aware of is the infra-red scanning technologies that come with some scanners. (I have a Microtek ArtixScan F1.) This feature enables an "auto healing" to occur on photos where scratches or other damage is physically present on the surface. This can be a huge time saver for you.

Andrew
I don't think my scanner has the infrared feature. But it does have a lot of options for fixing up the photos as they're being scanned. I was told to fix everything with PS and bypass all scanner's photo-fixing options. Not sure if that's good advice or not. The only thing I do before scanning is to adjust the Levels using the scanner software.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:11 PM   #11
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Any version of Photoshop will do the job, but IMO each version does get better, making the work easier and faster (or shall I say "less tedious?"). If you have a computer that'll handle Vista 64, and the budget to get CS4 Extended, you'll love it. The improved performance and new tools were sure worth it for me.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 03:13 PM   #12
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I've done a lot of restorations via Photoshop, having moved up from Elements a few years ago. Certainly there is always a learning curve but the rewards are many!

Attached is a quick restoration I did for someone I met at the local print shop, she couldn't afford what they were going to charge to have this 40 yr old picture cleaned up and wanted to make copies for her grandkids. I offered to help her out because she seemed so disappointed (she actually asked the guy if they could just color in the missing parts "with a crayon or something")!
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Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-primrosebefore.jpg   Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-primroseafter.jpg  

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Old June 24th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #13
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Charles, nice work BUT now let's see you do that restoration while running a Steadicam Rig ;-)
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Old June 24th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #14
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This is fun. Nice to think about something other than video once in a while. Here's another sample that worked out well.
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Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-phylis-adele-1940s-orig.jpg   Restoring old B & W photos, is Photoshop the best tool to use?-phylis-adele-1940s-restored.jpg  

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Old June 24th, 2009, 04:32 PM   #15
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Another vote for photoshop. We just had some expensive family photos done, My wife, my two grown up sons and myself - PLUS my oldest's long term girlfriend, who then fell out with him and I've spent a week deleting her from the group photos!
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