HomeTechnologyHow to restore old photos with Photoshop

    How to restore old photos with Photoshop

    Old photos bring a plethora of memories. However, time wears down these photos.If not preserved appropriately, they are susceptible to damage. Neglect can cause the photo edges to curl and create lines or make the photos stick together.  Effects of age and light can cause the photos to fade away.

    The good news is it is possible to restore and preserve the old photos for years to come. With photo restoring software like Photoshop, you can preserve, repair and enrich the damaged photos digitally. You can brighten, darken, add props, crop the photos and breathe new life into them.

    Steps involved in restoring photos with Photoshop

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    Scan and store

    Clear the scanner glass to ensure it is dust free and smudge free. Brush away the dirt settled on the old photo that has to be restored with a photo wipe or soft brush. Set the scanner at 1200 dpi and scan your photos at 32-bit colour depth. Make sure the photo is not askew or bent around the edges. It is not possible to change from gray scale mode to colour mode. Hence, always save the photo in colour format.

    Once scanned, store your photos in tagged image format (TIF). Alternatively, when you store the scanned photos in JPEG format, your image files get compressed leading to loss of quality. Therefore, unless you are running out of space on your hard disk, do not store the scanned photos in JPEG format.

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    Take a backup

    It is prudent to never work on the original scanned image. The original photo will serve as a reference when you are manipulating and fixing the image. Further, save each edited photo under different names to avoid overwriting of files.

    Manipulate the tone, contrast, colour and brightness

    Once you have taken a backup of the photo to be restored, open the Photoshop software and assess the damage. When you are restoring an old photo, it is wise to adjust the tone, contrast and brightness of the photo before moving to specific fixes.

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    Use level or curve adjustments to fix the contrast within the same portion. Dropper graph helps you to determine the level of tone adjustment required in a photo. Use brightness adjustment tools to darken or brighten the photo. Saturation tool will help in improving the depth and brightness of the photograph. If you have pushed the adjustment too far, reset button can be pressed.

    Fill in the missing portions

    To fill in the missing portions, zoom in on the area. Use clone stamp tool to fill in the missing portions. Sample the nearby pixels using this tool, copy and fill them in the damaged area. Start with the outline or edges and move towards the center. Once you have filled the missing portion completely, adjust the shadow using the shadow option.

    Repair and fix

    Next, zoom in to repair and fix the finer details. Have the unrestored photo as a reference and deal with scratches, creases, small lines and stains. Spot healing brush uses the surrounding pixels to read and cover the minor damages in the photo. The dust and scratch filter can also work wonders in repairing the damages. If a part of the photo is blurry, then sharpen the affected area. The key is to zoom in tight to ensure the minor damages are completely fixed.



    Crop and save

    Once you have fixed the damages, look at the photo as a whole to determine if it looks natural. Use the marquee tool to crop the photo, if necessary. Save the restored photograph and print the image.

    Other improvements

    Photo restoration can also be used to add props to the old photos to make them more striking. You can convert a black and white photo to colour using a lasso or magic wand tool. Add border to the photograph using vignette tools or include a caption or date in the photography.

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