How to Fix an Old Photo in Photoshop in 3 Easy Steps
By on October 5th, 2009

Retouching pictures is an art in itself and image fixing can have many facets. You may have to restore an old picture, alter the lighting and color temperature, or do something very simple like removing the date or time signature automatically added by your camera to ruin your otherwise beautiful composition. (Usually, you can avoid this by switching the option off, but it helps to know how to remove it in case you, like I have on many occasions, forget to do so).

In today’s post, I will reveal a secret much guarded by photography studios and discuss how to do something that many people unknowingly consider rather complicated.

Let us start by assuming that you have an old picture. (Imagine a really old picture… like that of your grandparents’ when they were young and you will know what I’m talking about.) It is likely that even if you have it on disk, it’s a scanned version of an original which could do with some work. But then, you have your heart set of getting it framed, after all, it is such an adorable picture that brings back great memories for your mom and for that it needs to be fixed first. Here is how you can do it yourself:

The original sample I’ll be using to demonstrate is this it is an old photo of my own grandparents:

fix_old_photo_sample

Step 1: Open the picture in Adobe Photoshop and double click on Backgroundin the Layers tab to unlock it and make Layer 0 (circled).

fix_old_photo_step1

Step2: Select the Clone Stamp tool from the tool box and choose a suitable brush from the Brushes tab (circled). A brush size of 15 px seems suitable for my purpose, so I will go with that. Feel free to change according to your picture requirements though!

fix_old_photo_step2

Step 3: What I will be attempting to do is to clonecertain undamaged portions of the photograph (which are similar to the damaged portions) and stampthese onto the damaged parts (the torn areas in this picture). To do this you need to press and hold the Altbutton on your keyboard and then click on the area you want to clone from. You will find that the cursor changes its shape to a target sign (circled) when you press and hold Altand becomes normal again once you select your area. Now click the way you would for an ordinary brush over the damaged areas similar to the cloned portion to fix them.

fix_old_photo_step3

As you can see here, I’ve removed most of the damaged areas in the top left portion of the picture:

fix_old_photo_step3_b

Here is what the final restored image looks like:

fix_old_photo_final

Perfectly easy, right? Once you’re happy with the results just save the picture with a .jpg extension and you’re good to go!

Another application of this technique is when you want to remove time or date signatures from pictures taken using a digital camera.

The key here is to (a) Get the brush size right and (b) To click over the right areas, with these becoming instinctive once you get the hang of things! So go ahead with confidence and have fun breathing new life into all your old pictures!

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Author: Shohini Sengupta
A very enthusiastic Writer, Blogger, Pianist, Vocalist and newbie Graphics artist, I love doodling pen and ink sketches and designing banners and CD covers. I am also a Biotech student and enjoy writing articles on new and exciting topics that catch my fancy between college and exams. :) My Twitter handle: @ShohiniBird

Shohini Sengupta has written and can be contacted at shohini@techie-buzz.com.

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