Things are progressing here at Scan Central as we work our way through the boxes and files of pictures, documents and other memorabilia we brought home from Kansas. While it's a lot of work, it's a lot of fun too as we keep uncovering such cool things, many of which we not only haven't seen but didn't know existed. An unexpected blessing.
The scan total is 508 now. Lots of photos, plenty of documents and a good number of clippings. Wayne's done the biggest share of those by far. I get the problem children; you know...the ones that need extra attention. My mother-in-law was good about getting a lot of pictures into books, usually with names and dates. She was bad, however, about cutting them into strange shapes or simply down so small it's hard to do much with them. I've been scanning them at super-high resolution then resizing the dpi down in increments as I raise the photo size up in the hopes of retaining some quality. Well, as much quality as you can have working with old snapshots.
And then there ones like this:
Isn't it just a treasure? Little boys in giant bows and young men with wide lapels. There's something about old photos that set my heart a-twitter, especially when there's a connection to someone in them. In this case, that sweet little boy in the lower left is Wayne's grandfather, Clarence Commodore Blaine, otherwise known as Connie. Pictured with him are his seven brothers; the three sisters must have felt left out.
This photo would fall into the happy surprises category as we didn't know of its existence, and I suppose that's what makes it all the more disappointing that it was damaged. Not only is there the obvious fold-mark across the top, there are what appear to be pen marks on it as well. I suspect someone was writing on the back of another photo (since there is writing on this one as well) and simply placed it on top before the ink had set, transferring some lines onto it.
There's also some stains and other signs of aging. This photo was taken about 1911 so it's over 100 years old. That kind of damage isn't that unusual.
So I spent my Sunday afternoon trying to restore it. Here's the result:
It makes me happy.
I use what is now an older version of Photoshop but you could do the same thing with Photoshop Elements. It's mostly two tools...the clone stamp and the spot healing brush. The clone stamp is just what it says: You "dip" your cursor in an undamaged portion of the photo that matches what you're trying to fix then you "stamp" your cursor on the damaged area. You're cloning the pixels, in this case to make the repairs.
The spot healing brush is similar but you only have to click once. The tool looks at the surrounding pixels and fills in the area with pixels that are similar colors. Depending on the nature and size of the damage, one tool works better than the other and sometimes it takes both. You can adjust the size of both tools to vary the size of the area you're working on but generally speaking, smaller is better.
There's a little cut and paste too as I needed to manufacture a chin for Elmer and a mouth for Dewey. That was just a guess. I looked at face shape and sizes as well as age then duplicated that element from someone else in the photo. I wouldn't have done this if it was the face of a direct ancestor that was damaged, lamenting instead the loss of the chance to see what they looked like at that particular time. Since it was grand uncles, however, I thought it worth the effort. And I added an explanation to the names to reflect that it was a digital restoration using composite features for those two individuals.
With a little patience and some trial and error, I was able to get most of the damaged areas restored. It's like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. There are some areas that are beyond my amateur skills, like the stains across the plaid suit worn by the boy on the bottom right. And I think there's a water stain on the right-hand portion of Grandad Connie's bow and shirt but I just couldn't get a handle on what it was supposed to look like without the stain so I abandoned that effort. At least for now.
Obviously not every photo will get this kind of attention but I just thought this one was too special not to try. Besides, it feeds my love for old photos so it really wasn't work at all.