Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 238: Scanning old Photos

This week's theme is "family" and I don't always have the, uh-hem, most stellar cooperation from family in getting photos these days (during college breaks, etc.) And our extended family all live far away.

So I thought I'd play with some old photos of family. I'm actually getting ready for Scrapfest at Mall of America, in September. Two of my sisters and I meet in Minneapolis and have a lot of fun hanging out with each other and strangely participating in this scrapbooking addiction.

I'm scanning some photos for some of the workshops, and one thing I've noticed about scanning old photos is that you can get a lot of noise or what looks like "dust spots" when you do any sharpening action on the photos. I tried a process decribed in Photoshop CS3 by Blatner, Chavez and Fraser.

I'm not sure that these two photos will be as clear in showing this as I'd like, but it's really evident when you print the photos!

The first photo (23 years ago of my son, Scott, playing with the sandbox in our back yard) is how it looks when scanned. I'm not sure why, but scanned photos also seem to end up with this little tag in the upper right and bottom left corners.

Especially in dark areas, like the shadow in the upper left, especially after defog, or sharpening, there are lots of noise, or little white specks.

I used CS3 and first defogged. Then I used the polygonol selection tool to select most of the photo. But you can actually just select a small section if you want to just did with a bunch of dust-like specks in only one section. Set "feather" to 1 or 2 pixels.

Hit control "J" on windows; command J on Mac. This creates a new layer with just the selection.
Now, for white specks, select blending mode to "darken." For black specks, you'd set the mode to "lighten."

Now use the move tool and move the new layer just one or two pixels up, down, left, or right. Instant fixing of a bazillion specks! Now you can flatten the layers and run any other kind of actions you want on it, or pop the colors, or paint with light, or sharpen. I just wanted a slight boost in saturation, so I ran Lady Ren's gentle boost, and reduced the opacity.

I cropped the photo slightly to get rid of the weird tags, saved and printed. I don't know if you can see the difference as much on-line, but you would if you printed them!


Reds said...

Thanks for the tip! and your son is a cutie!! :)

Sharon said...

I think this is one reason I haven't tried to scan old photos. I guess I'll just scrap them, eventually. ;)

Anonymous said...

That is a great tip! That is also a great sweet!

Bobbi said...

Oh gosh what a great old picture. You knows whats funny is I hate my scanner so I actually just take pictures of my old pictures lol.

Amy said...

Wow, nice improvement! What a cutie he was!

Jena Photography said...

The last 4 1/2 years I've only got digital photos. And don't have many before that so I've got nothing to scan and play with. Isn't it fun going down memory lane? Great photo.

Yvonne said...

What a great tip! Hopefully one day I'll get to scanning all these pictures that I have sitting in my photobox.
Great picture! Cute son!

--sme said...

I love looking at old photos, even if the colors aren't exactly what we want by today's standards, there's nothing like an old photo!

Amy said...

What a cutie, isn't it fun to go back and look at when they were smaller. Great tips!

Gypsy Girl said...

Ahhh so cute. Now he is all grown up. Amazing isn't it?

Jess said...

Awww, what a sweet photo! And what an amazing tip! It's mind blowing the difference between the two- even at this small size, I can definitely see it! AWESOME!

Anonymous said...


I was reading the last couple posts and I just wanted to let you all know about a company my mom has used. They are called Life Preserver and they scan and host analog media. They are based out of Los Angeles, CA. My mom really liked using them because they were very hands on and helpful. They were a little more expensive the some others, but she loved working with them. You all should check them out if you want to fast forward the scanning part and get on to the enjoying part.