22 October 2010

Repairing a Damaged Photo

My sister took a look at the repairs I made to Bubba's sailor photo and asked if I could do anything with a damaged photo that happened to be one of her husband's favorites. I love a challenge and so I set to work. Here is the original photo as she sent it to me by email:

There are lots of problems; several damaged areas, lots of dust and fading. The first thing I did after I opened the photo in Lightroom 2 is add a Direct Positive Lightroom preset. Here is the result:
Yes, it looks too extreme and too dark in areas, but I am bringing this image along with the original image into Photoshop Elements 8 where I will blend them together for a more pleasing color palette. Using my favorite tool, the clone tool, set to normal I repaired the two damaged areas in the center. Here is how it looks now that it is blended and the damage is repaired:
There are two things about this photo that are bugging me. One is the fact that the horizon is off kilter and the second is that the information board in the foreground is distracting from the image of my sister and the view of the beach. The board could be useful to keep in the photo if you might someday want a clue as to location, but I think my brother in law likes this picture because of the main subject, my sister The cropping I did back in Lightroom 2 because I like that crop tool better than the one in PSE 8. Here is a cropped image with the horizon straightened and the board removed:
Looks good, but we're not done yet. There is still way too much dust. I adjusted the Luminance in Lightroom, which affected the dust slightly, but not nearly enough. Here is the result, which doesn't show a discernible difference:
Back again in PSE 8 I used the clone tool set to darken and normal to repair the dust spots on the fence, beach and sky. The last thing that was really bugging me was my sister's face. Well, my sister's face doesn't bug me anymore (not since we were teenagers), but the pixels in her face were detracting from the final image. This is not something I have repaired before. I decided to try the smudge tool. The first time I used it at 100 percent and it just made her look weird. Finally I used it at 50 percent and stayed away from the defining lines of her face and it looks much better. Here is the final picture along with the original for comparison. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


  1. It looks really great. A lot of work, but worth it to salvage an important photo!

  2. Wow - looks fantastic. I am seriously considering PSE 8. Does it have a steep learning curve? I really like what you've done with that photo.

  3. I have been using PSE since version 1. I love it. It is possible to use it to do simple tasks, or complex creations. It is fairly intuitive. I also highly recommend the books series by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski called Photoshop Elements for the Digital Photographer. There are clear instructions (with pictures!!!!) to show you how to do the most common photo corrections and enhancements. It is always at hand when I need to do something new with a photo. Thank you for looking!!


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