Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Old Photo Editing – Restoration Magic!

Editing old photos is not something I usually do, but it presents some challenges, which I’m always down for. Recently I completed an old photo restoration for my wife’s family. I included the before and after photos in my blog below, with pretty stunning results.

Photo After Editing

Photo Before Editing

Essentially, I scanned the image digitally from an original circa-1920s print, edited it in Adobe Lightroom and then re-saved it. I’ll let you be the judge. I’m pretty happy with the results.

Developing an eye for how to edit photos properly definitely takes some practice and it’s something that I’m evolving at. But I have to give some credit to the Lightroom Software. Without modern software technology these changes were not even possible 5-10 years ago.

Here are the steps I used to edit the image into a better photo:

First, I straightened and cropped the image. In the before image the print wasn’t completely straight and the edges were tattered.

Then, I changed the color of the image. I don’t know what the original print looked like, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t washed out and light brown initially like you see in the before photo. Over time, old prints have a nasty habit of changing colors because of chemical changes on the paper or ink. To solve the problem I converted the original to black and white.

Now for the image detail; I used the sharpening tool in Lightroom to get rid of some of the haze and blur in the image. I also tweaked the contrast/black in the image to give definition to parts of the image that needed it. I also toned down the brightness of the image to give more definition to the shirt collar area – which originally was “blown out.”

Last, the white specs and stains on the image had to go. So I used the Lightroom removal tool to get rid of any unwanted, unnatural looking spots. If you look at the original photo in the bottom left/right corners you’ll see what I mean.

I didn’t want to over edit the image so I stopped there. I think the changes were pretty reasonable and simple. And as a result we were able to print a nice copy of the new image to replace the old one.

Gotta love it…

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