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Photo Restorations

Jan 2, 2014, 16:24
Post: #1
Photo Restorations
I have been working on restoring a collection of old black-and-white photographs for family. Some of the photos are scratched or damaged; all of them are faded and corroded in varying degrees. I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread to share experiences in using GIMP for photo restorations.

The fist hurdle that I encountered was that GIMP has no "spot healing brush tool" like Photoshop does. We can't just paint over small irregularities and have them corrected based on the surrounding pixels.

This is not a significant problem for the bulk of photo restoration work. We probably spend most of the time retouching small scratches and spots, but GIMP's standard Healing Tool (Heal) works fine. Of course, we select a source to use the Healing Tool. I like to use a very soft brush with the Healing Tool, the standard 025 Hardness brush or a new brush with a larger radius. The soft brush helps to avoid ruining the textures. It's easy to over-smooth things with the Healing Tool.

The Dodge / Burn Tool (Dodge) comes in handy for faded areas and for shading irregularities left over after using the Healing Tool. However, I find that the Dodge / Burn Tool is very hard to use without leaving spots that are too dark or too light. The opacity needs to be carefully chosen for each situation. Despite the difficulty that I've had in using the Dodge / Burn Tool, I've come to greatly appreciate the tool's Range option (selecting only Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights).

One of the most difficult situations that I've faced is when the photo has a lighted surface that needs a lot of retouching. The light accentuates the grain of the wood or the fabric. After using the Healing Tool to get rid of spots and fade marks, the texture is ruined and looks clearly artificial. In one situtation, I used the Smudge Tool (Smudge) to clean up the extraneous light texture, sort of re-creating the texture of the surface material that I had to destroy with the Healing Tool. It doesn't look perfect, but it looks slightly less bad.

One trick that I learned on Photoshop is to apply a light Gaussian blur on people's faces, selecting around the facial features and other details. This technique works the same in GIMP.

I don't think I'm very good at photo restoration yet, and it is a slow process for me. I hope my experiences might help someone else, and if anyone has any suggestions that might help me, I'd like to hear them!
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Jan 2, 2014, 22:17
Post: #2
RE: Photo Restorations
I want to add that the Healing Tool does not have good enough content awareness to handle edge lines very well. To fix a spot near the edge of an object or the borders of the photograph, you should make the Healing Tool large, and select a source straddling a clean portion of the edge. Then, click the spot, with the cursor near the edge line.
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Jan 3, 2014, 01:04
Post: #3
RE: Photo Restorations
(Jan 2, 2014 22:17)Bainespal Wrote:  I want to add that the Healing Tool does not have good enough content awareness to handle edge lines very well. To fix a spot near the edge of an object or the borders of the photograph, you should make the Healing Tool large, and select a source straddling a clean portion of the edge. Then, click the spot, with the cursor near the edge line.

This is where Gimp has an add-on that works very similar (and IMHO better than PS content-aware fill) called Re-synthesizer (heal-selection)

Here is an example damaged photo I helped another gimp user restore using the plugin, it works very well Smile

http://gimpforums.com/thread-how-to-edit...7#pid21157

*See the first post at the top of that thread for the original damaged photo.

This works especially well for scratches and to an extent, reflection/glare

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than fear of failure." BC
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Feb 12, 2014, 10:55
Post: #4
RE: Photo Restorations
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEkBxBO4j1E
This is a link to a you tube for gimp beginners. It shows how you can fix a ripped photo.
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Aug 31, 2014, 13:09
Post: #5
RE: Photo Restorations
(Jan 2, 2014 16:24)Bainespal Wrote:  I don't think I'm very good at photo restoration yet, and it is a slow process for me. I hope my experiences might help someone else, and if anyone has any suggestions that might help me, I'd like to hear them!
Hi Bainespal,
The Wavelet Decompose as an optional technique, is a great option.
Pat David gives an excellent example in this article http://blog.patdavid.net/2014/07/wavelet...tml#stains
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