Visibly different, part 25

unkknown woman in wedding gown for restoration
A little bit different approach this week, sparked by stumbling across this in my folders. I have no idea who this is, because the image was uploaded to a newsgroup dedicated to Photoshop as a challenge: to see who could restore it to an acceptable state. I wasn’t actively participating, but I downloaded it anyway to see what I could do with it, and according to the dates on the various files, it sat on my harddrive for almost a year before I tackled it. This was back in 2002/03 – they’ve been sitting in an old folder all that time, despite the fact that I’ve replaced harddrives at least seven times in that period. I could say I should probably do a bit more housecleaning, but then again, we wouldn’t have this example if I had.

There are, of course, no Photoshop filters than ‘fix’ damage like this, so it’s a lot of meticulous work in each aspect of damage: tracing the edges of the horrible cello tape, carefully following the cracks and folds, and all that jazz. Worst, I think, was the water/mildew staining giving a milky vague hue to some of the dark areas. And I don’t recall how many hours I spent on it, but the file dates progress over a few days at least. I also feel obligated to mention that I never took any kind of training in photo editing, being entirely self-taught with buttressing by the occasional web page that showed some cool technique. So how did it come out?

damaged photo restored to authentic monochrome
I look at this now and see where I could have done better, but overall, I think the original owner might never have noticed these and would have been pleased with the result. Or I could be dead wrong. It’s no Ecce Homo, though – I feel comfortable saying that.

But does a true monochrome image look ‘right?’ Chances are, the original back in the day had these hues, because that sepia coloration is a product of aging from the chemicals used at the time rather than what prints looked like when fresh, but we also expect to see this tone in old photos – it’s gravitas. So, another version with the sepia tone restored, just not as far.

restored image with sepia tone
Both of the restored images, by the way, were tweaked slightly just before this post was written, in two ways. The first is, I had never done the borders around the print, which still retained the lines and wrinkles and so on, but it made the images look odd, so I smoothed them back out (pure ‘white’ borders – that’s easy.) The second is, the sepia tone that I’d originally selected seemed a little too magenta, so I shifted it for this image.

While I would be curious to see what I could do with this now (given that the efforts that you see here were all made nineteen years ago,) I’m not so curious that I’d spend a few dozen hours on it – not even for a post. But another example may be along before the end of the year.

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