Bringing Life back to Old Pictures
Thanks to technology today, one can think of bringing back to life old photographs and with it fond
memories and a sense of history. Aged photographs are at times part of a family heirloom, faded
with time, aged and damaged over the years. Methods of rejuvenating them have existed for a
long time now, even before the advent of digital imaging; only that it was far more complicated,
difficult, costly and the quality of the output as in the new image, not always great and the
capability of consistently creating acceptable results very questionable. Add to all that access to
the capability of restoring old photographs, very limited.
With the advent of digital image technology and the ever spreading reach of the Internet most of
the challenges have been addressed. Today one has access to resources and experts who
restore and convert old aging images at the click of a button and they are able to consistently
deliver quality results at affordable prices.
As a rule never touch the original photograph, the process is a highly specialised one and laden
with risks. Always make a copy, the rephotography is being used less and less with time. Make
the copy and store the aging photograph with care, preserving it as best as one can, will not hurt
and leaves one with the option of using it if one needs to, one never knows what technological
innovations lie ahead of us. The way ahead is by far to scan the original old photograph, and do
so with a relatively high magnification 300 to 600 dpi, ideally greater than 600 dpi is more than
welcome. Though it does lead to heavier files, it also leaves the image restoration experts with
that much more to work with.
Capture the photograph in TIFF format instead of JPEG, in the latter there is loss of details due
to the compression algorithms. Many a scanner today allows to capture the image in RAW or
DNG (Digital Negative Adobe RAW format). These would be the preferred choice since all the
elements are captures as it is. Though the magnification is driven by the final size and the use of
the restored photograph, a smaller photograph to be put in an album does not need to be
magnified much though a blown up portrait on the wall would have to be. That said, it is better to
work on a higher magnification as it allows for flexibility in terms of the final restored
photograph`s size. Even when dealing with Black & White photographs scan them on RGB /
Color mode since it is easier to rectify the flaws as many of the marks and damages will be in
color. One can move it back to grayscale mode if one wants to, to retain the restored photograph
also in Black & white.
From a technique and software standpoint, Adobe Photoshop is among the more popular
choices, Photoshop elements is another cheaper choice but serves the purpose to a large
extent, shareware is also available with varying levels of features and capabilities. The broad
steps are to create a copy scan the photograph. Open it with the Adobe Photoshop or whatever
tool one is using. Asses the details and map out the changes and corrections that need to be
made. Make the global changes first, like the contrast, brightness, fading, color cast and the like.
Then make address the specifics be it marks, stains, damage and so on. Once these flaws are
rectified, crop the image and retain the best area, remove the damages and disturbances in the
edges. Once done compare the two images and asses and ascertain how the well the job has
A blessing of the times we live in and technological advances we have made, today we are able
to restore and revive some old memories, cherish them and preserve them for years and
generations to come.
Bringing Life back to Old Pictures