Healing and reconstructing damaged areas of a photo is actually my favourite part of the photograph restoration process as it gives me such a feeling of achievement when comparing the result to the often almost hopeless looking original. This portrait has been particularly rewarding.
Here I have started on the face, taking great care to preserve the existing texture of the skin and the old photo. A completely smooth, air-brushed overly processed look is out of keeping with the character of such a beautiful old portrait. I use a variety of the tools available in Photoshop to achieve this; the healing tools and the patch tool is best for preserving texture. Of course a graphics pen tablet for precise photo corrections is essential as well. The next task is to reconstruct the corner of the lips, this requires a great deal of care as it is extremely important to get detailed facial features such as mouth and eyes as perfect as possible. I pay extremely careful attention to form, colour and shade, using a variety of tools such as clone stamp, the healing tools, sometimes dodge and burn etc.
Now the lips have been reconstructed I turn my attention to the other damaged areas of the photograph, nibbling away at the edges of the larger areas, creating “islands” which I can then heal using the healing tools. Areas of blank background are more forgiving than faces but I always take care to preserve the texture and shading if appropriate.
Healing the damaged areas of the lady’s blouse is quite challenging and is an exercise in patience as texture and pattern has to be continued, together with the shading of folds.
All the damaged areas have now been completely repaired and ready for correcting tone/density and colour. Sometimes there can be a blemish or area of concern in the original photo which was not the result of physical damage, how I deal with it will depend on the clients wishes and whether it detracts artistically from the image or is in keeping with the character of the image. Issues such as this did not really arise in this image, but I have in the past erased pen messages from an old girlfriend or even added in the island of Tasmania which somehow was left off a map of Australia!
Don’t miss my next post dealing with correcting the colour and density (contrast) of this gorgeous old photo portrait!