29 November 2010

Photo Edits–Rescuing an Old Faded Photo–PT Boat 328

This photo is blown up from another (location unknown) damaged photo. The damage that is visible is part of the image. We actually found two copies kept in archival sleeves, so it is most likely that it was an important picture to Bubba. You can read more about it here.

PT 368
For this photo, I am not interested in a full restoration. The quality isn’t such that I would ever hang it on my wall, but I would like to be able to more clearly read the number on the side of the boat and perhaps during the process other photo clues might become apparent.

As always I begin the process with my trusty Epson 4490 scanner, scanning the photo at 600 dpi and saving in both TIFF and JPG formats. This is a bit of overkill I know, but most websites will not accept the TIFF format and I like to have JPG version handy if I know I will be putting it online. I open the TIFF version in Lightroom to make my photo adjustments. Have I said before that one of the reasons I love Lightroom is that it leaves the original image untouched? Your edits are made and saved in the Lightroom Catalog. You can save new versions to your photo folders by clicking Export, but your original is always available.

Here are the photo adjustments I made.

1. Adjusted Blacks +63
PT Boat Blacks (1 of 1)

2. Adjusted Clarity +100
PT Boat Clarity (1 of 1)

3. Lowered the Contrast –45
PT Boat Contrast Down (1 of 1)

4. Lowered the brightness –61
PT Boat Brightness 1 (1 of 1)

5. There is more substance to the photo, but some of the detail has been lost, so raised Contrast +120
PT Boat Contrast 2 (1 of 1)

6. Can’t leave that brightness alone because I think I see some clouds in the sky. Brightness –32
PT Boat Brightness 2 (1 of 1)

7. It isn’t a color photo, so that isn’t really blue sky peaking through, but I do think clouds are visible.
    A little too dark still. Exposure + 48.
PT Boat Exposure (1 of 1)

Here are the things I have noticed while working with this photo. There are clouds in the sky and land is visible in the background. The two men sitting at the front are not on high alert. Their shoulders and backs are slumped as if they are relaxing (or exhausted) and enjoying a nice boat ride. The boat is flying the American flag. The number 328 is certainly clearly visible on the side, but I didn't notice with the original version that it is also visible on the top of the boat right in front of the radar pole. There may be two or three more men sitting at the top.

Here again is the original scan of the faded photo.
PT 368

I love a good black and white photo as you know from here and here.

You can’t see the clouds as well, but if you were putting together a project with a cohesive look, it might be worth the extra step to convert the photo to black and white. I think it is a little less distracting to the subject.

Happy Photo Editing!

Scrappy Gen


  1. It was interesting to see each "corrected" image as you went through the various editing modes (contrast, lightness/dark). I began to see both boat numbers, 328. I enlarged the last image by clicking on it and noted its properties: 987 x 593 pixels, 170 KB. Were these the image properties of your final scan. Incidentally, Adobe Photoshop Elements also keeps the original scan as well as any edits.

  2. I am not sure about the image sizes on blogger. I think they get compressed somewhat when they are uploaded. I scan all images at at least 300dpi, large enough so that it can be printed at a fairly large size. When using Microsoft LiveWriter, in addition to image compression, I have noticed color alterations between the image on blogger and the image in my computer. I have more to learn about this process.


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