I´ve often said that an important part of photo restoration is knowing when to stop because if you overwork a photo you can lose as much as you gain. By that I mean you can smooth it out, clean it up and eradicate all its major faults and in the process simply ensure that it takes on a completely artificial character.
With the following photo knowing when to stop was not a major concern. Well, not for many years because it was one of these projects I kept attempting and almost immediately gave up in frustration. I just knew that it wasn´t the right time to start.
See what I mean? For many years I just didn´t have the necessary expertise to tackle something so horrendous. For a start that deep diagonal crease was totally intimidating and the longer I looked at it the less confidence I had that I´d ever be able to remove it. I finally put the photo away and forgot about it. In the meantime I had enough old damaged photos to keep me occupied. Just recently I was looking through all my previous restoration work and realised that many of my old family photos had been just as badly treated and yet I´d somehow managed to restore them, if not to perfection at least to a reasonable condition so I dug it out again and had another look at it. First of all I desaturated it. I suppose that wasn´t really necessary but I find it far easier to repair faults in a black and white image.
After that I straightened the edges and then used a combination of the clone tool and the healing brush tool to remove the crease. I know that this sounds easy but, believe me, it wasn´t! It took a lot of trial and error before I was happy with the result.
The next step was to conceal the black edges but that was easily done using the clone tool which I also used on the missing part of the shoe. Next I restored the photo to its original sepia. Well, not quite its original which looked rather too yellow to me. (See Tutorials) I also altered the shadows and the highlights.
After that I cleaned up that messy looking sock using the clone tool. The photo still looked rather flat so I also deepened the contrast.
In my final version I decided to use a darker brown overlay. I then increased the contrast using Curves which brought out the detail. This also had the effect of increasing the visibility of the scratches.
Did I just say that was my final version? Well, it may be but I couldn´t resist trying out an even darker overlay to give it more depth.
As you can see from the above, it took a lot of trial and error to restore this old photo. I´m still not entirely happy with it but at least it looks a lot better than the original. I suppose I could remove those scratches but, as I said before, you have to know not only when it´s time to start but also when to stop!