"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera." (Dorothea Lange)
Through our video biography work, and then as a stand alone business, we have fixed thousands of photographs over more than ten years. But even after all these years, I still get tickled when I look at new images that need help: it's knowing that through some digital magic the old can be made new again. It's also that every old photo is a kind of magic peep-hole into the past. Old photos really are the closest thing we have to a time machine.
In this blog, I am going to give you the seven quickest and best tricks to restore your old photos. And you can do them on almost any photo editing program - including "Aviary" which Flickr provides, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Photoshop Elements. So, let's get to work!
If you are using Flickr's Aviary, it's the "Contrast" tool you will need, in Windows Live Photo Gallery its Auto Adjust>Settings>Exposure"; and in Photoshop Elements use Enhance>Auto Levels.
saturation color slider.
In most photo editors, this fix can be found under the "saturation" adjustment. In Photoshop Elements use Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation.
If you are using Flickr's Aviary, it's the "Sharpness" tool you will need, in Windows Live Photo Gallery there is no tool; but in Photoshop Elements use Enhance>Auto Sharpen or Enhance>Unsharp Mask.
5. Flash-Caused Red Eyes
We have all had this happen to us: we snap a photo in dark conditions (where our pupils are nice and large to let the maximum amount of light in) and the flash goes off. Great, except that oftentimes the light bounces right back from the back surface of the eyeball, showing a nice red hue (which is pretty much the color of all of our insides). Luckily, easy to fix.
If you are using Flickr's Aviary, just click the "Redeye" tool and select the circle size; in Windows Live Photo Gallery there is also a "Red Eye" tool; and in Photoshop Elements use Enhance>Auto Red Eye Fix.
If you are using Flickr's Aviary, click the "Enhance" tool, then "Color Fix; in Windows Live Photo Gallery you have a choice between "Auto Adjust" and "Color" where you get to choose a countervailing color shift; and in Photoshop Elements use Enhance>Auto Color Correction or Enhance>Adjust Color>Remove Color Cast.
This is really the holy grail in terms of amateur photo repairing - an easy to use tool that fixes dust and scratch marks. Luckily, we have now reached a level of sophistication in our quick and easy tools where these problems can sometimes be fixed by the part-time photo restorer.
If you are using Flickr's Aviary, just click the "Blemish" tool and select the circle size; in Windows Live Photo Gallery the closest you can come is to use the "Noise Reduction" tool (which may not get you where you really want to be). Photoshop Elements is the most advanced of all the amateur programs and it really comes into it's own with dust and scratch repair: start with the Spot Healing Brush tool, or the Clone tool - both available in the tool panel on the left.
I hope these seven quick and easy tool tips help you restore your precious old photos to their former glory. If you would like to see more examples of what can be achieved with old photos just click across to Photo Fix Restore's dedicated photo repair and photo restoration website and check out the extensive before and after gallery!