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In Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos, professional photo restorer Janine Smith shows how to bring new life to old photos. The course begins with a look at the types of photos that may require restoration, including slides, negatives, prints, and newspaper photos, and options for scanning them. She discusses the types of scanners that are available, from flatbed to film, and the best settings to use for originals. The course then delves into Photoshop Elements tools and techniques to help restore clarity to faded photos and fix problems such as dust, scratches, and tears. Exercise files are included with the course.
Photographers used to offer the finish print to their customers on heavily textured paper. It added an artsy look to photos that people were proud to hang out and display in their homes. However, when it comes time to scan a textured photo the light from the scanner reflects in all those little peeks and valleys of texture. So how do we soften the texture while not losing a lot of clarity? Here is one quick and easy way to try. Duplicate the original layer either by keyboard shortcut Ctrl on a PC or Command on a Mac + J, double-click on the layer name and rename it, we'll name this Suzy and click next to it to accept.
Let's zoom in really tight so you can see the texture really, really well. Zoom in with Ctrl or Command and the Plus key a little too far let's go back one that looks really good. Scroll up, let's look at this portion in her hair and over on this side. Now let's go to the Filter menu down to Blur and then Surface Blur, and move it over just a little so we can see the area we want to see.
We want to do a very soft blur, so we'll try a Radius of about 3 and a Threshold of around 24 and click OK to accept. Let's look at our before and after. You see we soften that texture up pretty well, but I think we still need to sharpen it up a little bit. So now we'll duplicate Suzy with Ctrl or Command+J, double-click on the name and we'll name it sharpen and click next to it to accept.
Now we'll go to Filter>Other and High Pass. Use a Radius of about I will go up here and try something pretty high, let's go up around 50, 50.3 is good. You should always experiment with each photo to see what works best with that photo. Now we'll click OK and change your layer Blend mode to Soft Light. Now that we have our sharpening layer we can see that the edges of the hair look a little too sharp, they brought a little too much texture back in, so what we need to do is get rid of that.
I think we mainly want to sharpen the eyes that's the most important part here, the rest can be a little soft. So what we'll do to get rid of that is go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select the Add a layer mask icon. This brings a mask up next to our sharpen layer. Over here in our Color Picker you can see that now white is the foreground color and black is the background color. We need to invert our mask from white to black. So what we'll do is choose Ctrl or Command+Backspace, and now you can see everything through that mask.
To paint in the areas and resharpen the eyes we want to go over to our Brush tool, and again our colors who inverted so our white is our foreground color and that's what we need and we'll start to paint in the eyes to bring back sharpness. Let's get here over the lid, give her a little makeup. This is a 60s photo and they did this sort of thing back then. Let's scroll down and see if anything else needs to be sharp maybe it will give her teeth a little sharpness right here on the edge, no, we don't like that.
If you don't like something simply invert your Color Picker and go back and paint it back up. Let's zoom out and see how it looks before and after. Let's click our Visibility icon and get back to our Background layer. Now let's look at our blur layer and with a little sharpening in the eyes. If that looks a little bit too much, again let's take the Opacity down see if we can soften that up a little about 55% and that looks really good.
No matter how you might like a certain look if it makes the restoration process twice as hard as it could be it may not be worth it. That's always your call of course, but if you have a photo to restore with a heavy paper texture that's cramping your restoration style this maybe a good softening technique to try.
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