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Mold on an image when digitized will just look like a stain, and that's how you will tackle it--like you would any other stain. Just a quick word of caution about mold on a photograph: inactive mold on an original is usually powdery and dry, but the right amount of humidity can cause it to become active again. For the safety of all your other photographs, keep the original quarantined in its own archival container, and be sure to thoroughly clean the scanner bed and allow it to completely dry before scanning any other photographs. Let's have a look at this photograph with mold on it.
You can see this mold is a dark brown with a light ring around it. And we're going to try first a Black & White adjustment to see if we can reduce the appearance of that mold. Go down to the bottom of your Layers panel and select the Create a new fill or Adjustment layer icon, the black- white guard here, and select Black & White. Now go up to your Presets. We are going to scroll through to see if any help the appearance of the mold. You can scroll through on a PC using your downward arrow key, and on a Mac you will need to select them individually.
We'll just see if any of these lessen the appearance. And I'm actually just right offhand liking the look more of the Green filter. It lightens the image overall, but you can go back and darken it up later. We're just concerned with the appearance of the mold at this point. Now we are going to use some healing tools that require a layer with pixels, an actual image layer. So we're going to go back down to our layers stack. We're going to use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC, Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac, to combine those layers, and we're going to go back over to our toolbar and begin with the Patch tool.
I might want to zoom in, Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus, just to get a little better look at these areas, and start by selecting the damaged area and pulling it up. This is fairly easy. It's in a non-detailed area, so it's not going to really have any problems using the Patch tool.
When you get into a slightly more detailed area just make smaller selections. And keep going in the general direction, such as-- this will have a shadow right here at her arm. You want to bring it up or down following that shadow and so on, until all the mold is gone. The Black & White adjustment just made this a little easier because the tones are more similar.
If you kept the color image or the toned image, it might have been a little harder to find areas to sample from. If you want to go back to the original tone, I demonstrate how to do this in the video "Tinting a black-and-white photo." Now let's have a quick look at a different kind of photograph, a different stain. This is just on the sky here, and it's just more of a spread stain than the little circles. And in this, you can try to lighten the stain-- one way is with the Curves adjustment. Another thing you can try is to go down to your Layers panel and add a new blank layer, change your Layer Blend mode to Soft Light, go over and select a Brush tool, make sure your foreground color is white--and you can lower your brush size or make it bigger with your open and close bracket keys--and begin painting in the area of the stain.
See, it doesn't really affect the light areas terribly bad because they're already so light. It just reduces the obvious stain a bit. Be a little careful around your detailed areas, the trees, the shrubs, but this is a really good way to just lighten the dark parts. I'm not going to be terribly detailed here, for the sake of time. But when you get this painted in to your liking, go up to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Just blur the edges of that a bit.
See over here how it's not quite so stark. Bring it just up enough just to blur the edges a little. You can tell when you go too far because you can see a lot of the stain through it again. That will work. You can see that just lessened that stain just a bit, and you can keep doing that in layers until it blends really well with the sky. And then you can take your Patch tool, or your Clone Stamp, and blend it in further.
Images like this may take a lot of work and a lot of patience, or it may go really easily. All you can hope for is some improvement in some cases, not a complete restoration. And like most old photos, it will never look new, or sometimes not even close to new, but with time and patience, the photo can look better, and in many cases you can get rid of most, if not all, of the mold.
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