Here’s a before and after example of a digital photo restoration.
Digital photo restoration is usually done in Adobe PhotoShop, and involves scanning in a damaged photo and restoring it digitally by re-sampling pixels from areas of the photo that are not damaged.
The difficulty in restoring the image depends on where the damage sits. For example, a blurry background that doesn’t have much detail but has a tear across it is very easy to restore, as there really only needs to be a recreation of the background as a texture to emulate the existing background, rather than recreating specific detail.
At the other end of the scale, faces are much more difficult to repair, as damage across an eye and main facial features need to be meticulously repaired. Anyone who recognises or knows the person’s face will easily tell if features like an eye have been poorly restored. Repairing damage across a face also requires a lot of attention to detail, as placing a shadow of a feature a few pixels on the wrong direction can result in that area looking swollen.
The cost of getting a photo restored will depend greatly on the level of detail that is being restored, whether similar ‘textures’ can be taken from other parts of the photo, or if there are faces that require repair, which will increase the time exponentially. Other factors include perspective and spacial depth of the photo subjects.
Two photos with the same level of damage, and the same size, will not necessarily cost the same to restore if their subject matters differ.
The tools used are generally the Clone Stamp Tool, but increasingly for smaller areas of damage, Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush and Patch Tools are used. Larger areas are often repaired with undamaged areas of an image, which are then adjusted. Sometimes it is necessary to paint in areas with individual pixels to match up areas of tone and shadow.
The Levels adjustment layer can be used to remove colour casts to a degree. This is very good and greatly improving those old polaroid images that have developed that distinctive red colour cast over time. Levels can be used to readjust the image’s histogram data in each colour channel to effectively erase the colour cast and reveal the detail and colours that have survived below. An example of a before and after treatment with the levels tool can be seen in the image below below. Also, see more digital photo restoration examples here.
I will also be posting more examples, and a few posts on the process involved with the steps that I do when restoring images.