Photos fade because they’re made of materials that are sensitive to light. They have to be, because that’s how photography works. But too much sunlight – or even room light – can wash them out until your image is almost gone. But all is not lost! Faded photo restoration is possible because of the great tools we have today.With a good scanner and the proper adjustments, we can recover a great deal of the original image.
Initial Steps for Faded Photo Restoration
To restore a faded photo, we do as much as possible as we scan the original, then we move to Photoshop magic. One of its primary tools allows us to set the white, black and grey levels. We tell the computer that we want this part to be white, and what part should be black. Then we find something grey in the image and tell the computer to make it grey. The computer then adjusts the entire photo so that it fills out the blacks, whites, and greys we asked for. This trick doesn’t finish the work, but it’s a great start.
What Comes Next
At that point, we usually go through the photo with an eye for flaws. We enlarge the image on screen so it’s like it was several feet tall. Then we go through the photo from left to right and top to bottom, examining it in detail. When we find a flaw, we copy from undamaged portions of the photo to fill or paste over the problem area. Sometimes we cheat – on one photo I copied a twin’s eyes to replace a missing part of his brother’s face
Finally, for black and white photos we can apply a tint to the image if that’s what the client wants. We often add just a bit of brown to an older image, which gives it a pleasant aged look. Here, we also did some ‘sculpting’ by making the darks darker in certain areas. This gives better tonality and more depth to the photo. In this picture you can see where we used this trick to darken the shadows behind the two largest wheels.
Or we can leave the blacks, whites, and greys pure, which would be more believable for a newer photo.
Do you have faded photos in your collection? Give us a call at 540 577-0933.