The restoration of an old photo is within everyone's reach. The required hardware and photo editing software are now available. The operation of rejuvenating an old photograph remains delicate, however, and it may be preferable to entrust this work to a professional.
What hardware and software choice for retouching an old photo?
Any recent PC or MAC will have enough hardware resources for photo editing work. However, you will need to equip yourself with a scanner and perhaps invest in a screen and a probe to calibrate it.
- Choose a flatbed scanner dedicated to image acquisition. And opt for a medium / high-end device. This will need to be fast so that you can scan photos at high resolutions without having to wait indefinitely. Pay attention to the sampling depth of your scanner. This is measured in bits and the more their number is important the more this will guarantee a nice restitution.
Take into account some specificities such as a calibrated monitor with a wide color gamut.
- If possible, obtain a calibration probe. This will allow you to view colors on your screen that are faithful for printing.
- On the software side, if Photoshop is inaccessible to you, don't despair. There are many completely free alternatives. The GIMP is an open source tool as powerful and functional as those published by ADOBE. In the world of freeware, PAINT.NET will also allow you to do all your editing.
The acquisition work prior to photo editing
Digitizing an image with a scanner is like taking a second photo. Just like when you use your camera, there are a few settings that need to be made. For example, choosing the right definition and the right image compression rate. The quality of the file obtained with your scanner will be decisive for the final result.
- Select a non-destructive image format. Generating a PSD or TIFF file will therefore allow you to keep more details than a JPEG.
- Do not hesitate to increase the resolution level. A flatbed scanner achieves 1200 and even 2400 DPI. If such values are unnecessary when you print an image, they will allow you to make more precise corrections during the retouching phase.
- As soon as your image is scanned, make a copy. This will keep your original file and allow you to use it again if you make mistakes while editing.
Last step: how to edit your photo?
An old black and white photo is often yellowed. A color photograph will have faded with a dominant red or more rarely blue or green. We will have to restore its original shine and restore the sharpness of the image.
- Use the cloning tool in your software to correct imperfections in your photo. This is the longest and most painstaking operation to erase tears, small stains or scratches that alter a photo.
- Improve the color and tone of your photo. To do this, apply yourself to adjusting the contrast and brightness of your image as well as correcting its exposure. To revive your photo, it will also play on the color saturation setting.
- Optimize the sharpness of your image. You will find this functionality in the filter menu of your editing software. This last operation will give relief to your photo and the appearance of a recent photo. Do not force the sharpness function too much, which could affect the quality of your image if you print it.