Second Assignment: Image Restoration
Before I begin I feel that I must apologize to my fellow classmates for posting this so late. Due to a family emergency, I spent most of last night and nearly all of this morning in the emergency room. Fortunately everything turned out ok.
The process of restoring and matting a photograph is a rather laborious process. The rewards, when the task is complete are well worth the effort. With that aside I present to you my rather pathetic attempt to emulate photographic restorers of lore. (I am guessing that I shot for the stars but never made it off the ground.)
The photograph that I chose to restore and add some color to, I found in the online archives of the Library of Congress. Admittedly she was not my first, nor my second choice. I had originally planned to do the daguerreotype of Mary Todd Lincoln which is in their holdings. The reason I did not do so was that I got into the process of trying to restore it, many of the corrections that I made ended up making the picture worse. There were a lot of scratches and trying to rid them from the photograph seriously compromised the image. In any event, here is the image that I chose:
The image is of a women, possibly in her thirties of forties, sitting for a photograph. My first reaction when I caught a glimpse of this photograph is that she is probably an immigrant or, at the very least, born in the United States the daughter of immigrants. IN some ways she reminds me of the wedding picture that my mother has of my great-grandparents. They emigrated to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century from Italy. There is something very captivating about her.
Upon examine the photograph the first thing that is readily apparent, aside from the detail of the image, for example, the woman’s knuckles are clearly visible, is that it needs to be cropped. One of the reasons for cropping the image is it becomes much easier to work with. Once this is done, the next task at hand is to balance out the monochrome color scheme. In the image there is a great abundance of white. This is alleviated by the Photoshop feature called Curves. This allows the reader to adjust the white balance within the photograph. By doing so allows for a sharper and more detailed photograph. In this particular photo, the white balance is not that off kilter and with a relatively small adjustment of the balance in the photograph, utilizing the Curves graph, I was able to adult the levels and produce a clearer and more detailed appearance.
If you look in the photograph above you will see standing behind her, and off to the right, her left, a large shadow. I tried using the Drop Shadow feature in Photoshop to try to rid the image of it, but to no avail. Later on, when I was adding color to the image, I tried to alter the appearance of the background, but it ended up looking rather cartoonish, well more cartoonish and grotesque than after I added color to the rest of the image, so I decided to just leave it as is.
My next task, in restoring this photo, is to try to rid the image of the many dust, scratches, and debris that have accumulated on the photograph over the years. Opening another layer, nearly every task in Photoshop requires one and creating a new one is quite prudent, I decided to use the Spot Healing Brush for this. After zooming in on the image I went to work. While it worked well on most of the scratches, I was not able to completely rid the photograph of the ravages of time and ill care.
The image below is how the photograph appeared after I was finished cleaning and repairing some of it:
My next, rather Herculean task, was to try to remove the frame that the image was in and try to mat it onto another background. To do this, I first needed to crop the image again, this time so as close to the actual photograph as I could get. Once I accomplished this, I next used the rectangular selection tool and used it to highlight the image. Then, using the keyboard shortcuts, I was able to copy my selected portion of the image and open it in a new Photoshop window. Once this was done I noticed that the tone and contrast of the image appeared a bit off, so I adjusted both the brightness and the contrast until they were relatively balanced.
Next I opened a new layer and placed it below my current one. My reasoning for this is so that the new layer that I just opened could contain my background color underneath the photograph. Next, I chose, for some unknown reason, Red as the color for the background layer. Once this was done, after opening a new layer, I took the Eraser Tool and after zooming in on the image and selecting the smallest possible size I began to patiently rub the remaining frame away from the image. Once this was complete, the image was now mounted on a red colored frame. I decide, however, that I needed to add even more color to this picture. I have no idea why I chose some of the colors that I did, especially when you consider that they seem to clash with the red in some spots. As I went through and applied my imagination to the image, I tried using the Magnetic Selection Tool. This item proved rather unwieldy in some of the spots and I ended up actually using the brush to color in items such as her dress and her skin etc. Anyways I will leave you to judge the results for yourselves, as for me well they just seem to make a photograph rather grotesque:
As you can see, the colors make this photograph rather bizarre, I mean she does not even appear as if she is the same person.
My next task for this assignment, and one that I had a much better result with, was the task of turning this poor woman into a vignette. while I am not particularly fond of the way in which the colorization process turned out I am rather pleased with results.
Here is the picture that I started out with:
Once again, I proceeded to crop the image thereby ridding it of as much of the frame as possible. Next I proceeded to enlarge the image so that it is easier to vignette. One the image is enlarged, I then use my rulers to construct a set of guides around a particularly interesting part of the image, in this case her face. The guides are arranged so that they resemble a box around the desired portion of the photograph to be vignetted. Next I use my Rectangular Selection Tool to select a portion of the image. Once the selection is highlighted I modify the selected portion by using the Feathering feature. In this case I selected a Feathering level of 40. Once this is complete I next copied the image and then opened a new window in Photoshop. Once I paste the new image in the window my next task is to expand the canvas upon which my image rests. Then, after highlighting the image, I use the inverse feature to color in the area surrounding my image. As I said earlier the results are pretty nifty:
Lastly, here is one more of the vignetting and matting process. It is a little different from the process used in that rather ridiculously colored picture. In any event, one of the major differences is that when you use the vignetting process, you need to expand the canvas, which I have done after pasting the image in a new window. Again I used the feathering feature, however, this time after I expanded the canvas and used the inverse feature to fill in my border, I used the crop tool to shrink them down into a manageable size. Oh, and the only other really subtle change is that in the first image I used the rectangle selection tool and in the image below I used the elliptical.
As stated earlier this can be a rather laborious and time-consuming endeavor, That being said, as some of these images illustrate, I shudder at the colorized one, which I must say under normal circumstances would under no shape or form be colorized, to protect the historical integrity of the image, the time invested in restoring photographs is a worthy investment. Moreover it is one that can reap huge rewards.