More photo restorations!

I've become quite hooked on this lately, and there are loads more on the way. This is the latest one I've been working on. I'm pretty happy with this one, although it has been the hardest one yet to get right. This photo is of my great Grandfather Albert Redfern, his wife, and two daughters (Phyllis and Olive) Phyllis was my grandmother, and in this photo she looks to be around 20, she was born in 1914, so its likely that this photo was taken in roughly 1934. Although I have a photo of her which has written on the back that she was 17, and from what I can tell she looks roughly the same age, so it could have been taken a little earlier than '34. I don't know much about my Great grandfather, and even less about my great grandmother, as she died before my father was around. Albert worked in Nedderton Colliery  (among other things), and also worked as an architect in the north east. One of his hobbies outside of work was photography, (strange how it seems even hobbies can be passed down the generations!)  so its not a great stretch of the imagination to think that he could have taken this photo himself, or at least set it up, or it being taken on his equipment. The original photo only measures 64mm x 90mm, so its a tiny little thing, and has become severely damaged over time, the main damage is on the corners, so im assuming at one point it was in an album, and has become damaged when its been removed from the album. Unfortunately I don't know where the photo was taken, as there isn't too much to give away its location in the image, and everyone in the photo has long since passed away. So that may have to remain a mystery. As well as getting this photo, I also managed to lay my hands on a couple of photos of my grandparents (same grandmother thats in this photo), that were taken by professional photographers, which have survived very well considering when they were taken, they won't need much restoring, but I'll post them here soon purely because they are great photos! So, anyway, here's the original image of Albert and his girls!
Albert Redfern

Albert Redfern

As you can see, this photo is very damaged, and due to its small size that makes it even harder to restore, as the margin for error is greatly reduced!

I started with this one by taking it to black and white, then getting the levels to a place that looked about right, Once I had completed this I started to try and take care of the damage. Luckily the missing parts of the image are at the corners, which have very little information in them anyway, so I could easily clone the  corners back in, giving a pretty good interpretation of what was probably there in the past. The scratches and folds in the image where the next to be repaired. With this image being so faded, by turning it to black and white then sharpening it there is a trade off in quality, this trade off is that the image becomes sharper, but noise, or grain is added to the image, which to a degree is acceptable, I tried to get the balance just right, but its taken a lot to et rid of most of it. The size of the photo also presented another problem, there are four people in this photo, each of their faces is tiny, and doesn't have a great deal of detail, so when they've become damaged, its very hard to restore the features, when they weren't even properly represented in the first place. With alberts face in the front row, the left side of his face in the image (as we look at it),  was pretty much gone, so what I did to restore it was to copy the portion of the image that was his face, then flip it over, (so i could have his "good" side, covering the missing side), then i progressively deleted the features I did not need, and rotated the image until I found the way that best fit. Once I had achieved this, I used dodging and burning as well as the clone tool to match the colour correctly and place it in the right place on his face. I used the same technique on Phyllis' face (top left), the shadow was completely covering the left portion of her face, so i used an inverted portion of the right side to build it back up again. Unfortunately, in the lower part of the image, you can kind of see that they should have legs, and you can kind of see Alberts feet, but there isn't much to go on, so regrettably, there wasn't much I could do to save this part of the image, as the information simply isn't there to retrieve, or, it is there and its way beyond my skill level. With the scratches removed and the faces repaired, I started to work on correcting the background. The top of the image and the right hand edge seem to have a dark line over them, from what I can gather, this was taken in a back yard, behind olive it appears to be   doorway, and to the far left of the image appears to be some sort of stonework that looks like it would fit in a back yard. The black lines appear to be either a fault with the camera, or, a mistake when processing the image (you can forgive him for that though, this would most likely have been taken on a glass plate!) I decided to clone over these, and just extend the wall, on either side, this makes the photo look more natural. After this was done I showed it to my dad, who thought that  I should take out the shadow to the left of Mrs Redfern, I was a bit dubious about this, as there wasn't much I could do about it. But I took it out anyway, and I personally feel that the area I've "created" does look a bit false, but, overall I think the image has benefited from its removal, and my dad liked it, so I suppose that's enough! we then printed the image, and it became apparent (to me anyway) that there was still a heck of a lot of noise in the image, so I went back and did a second round of cloning and healing all over the image, where ever it looked like there was some noise. I think I've now got to the point where I have to stop, mainly because if I go any further with it I think i'll start to do more damage than good, so I'm going to leave it, at least for now. So here is the results of this round of editing.
restored image

restored image

Hope you've enjoyed this post, I'll be posting a few more over the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Chris

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