Restoring the Past With Photoshop

Humidity, sunlight, water, and most of all, time, are just some of the culprits in the damage most printed photographs will endure. However these memories of loved ones do not need to be thrown away or thought to be unrepairable. A few layers in the digital world can bring it back for your clients.

A few years ago when the most destructive storm of 2012, hurricane Sandy, wrecked the northeast coast, a few of my closest friends called me up to ask if there was any way to repair some old photographs that were damaged in the storm leading back to the early 1900s. This project took many weeks to accomplish due to the conditions they were in. So when my long term client recently asked me to restore an image that was badly torn simply from time, it was a few quick edits compared to the damage of water from the super storm.

Getting It Right

While there are many ways to repair an old photograph in film form, either digital or simply repairing the physical image itself, a digital reproduction was requested so she could print multiple times to surprise her family of a relatives that past away. First the image had to be puzzled together as tight as it could be for less post work in the end. The image came to me with blue tape holding it in place. More damage would have been done by pulling it apart from the tape and some pieces were missing as well. I laid the image on a flat surface and shot it from above to capture the replica of the photograph. Then the fun began.

Healing and Cloning

For the majority of images, the healing brush is the first go-to tool if possible. Specs of white, torn lines, or even the blue masking tape were easily fixed with this tool. I took care not to get to close to the details of her dress, otherwise Photoshop would take into consideration those tiny buttons and attempt to remove those as well.

The finer details are best left for the clone tool for a more precise line. The clone used the above buttons to create what was lost or…

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