Friday, September 16, 2005

Restoring Old Photos

By Christina VanGinkel

My husbands grandmother passed away several years ago, but was one of those people who left a mark on all the people she ever had contact with, including her grandchildren. My mother in law showed me two pictures of her, one with her husband, and one with her two sisters when all three were in their teenage years. This second one is in black and white and has a few blemishes on it, including a scratch and a stain in the one corner. She wanted to know if I could make copies of the first, and somehow fix the second picture and make copies, as she would like to give one of each to the grandkids at Christmas this year, together in a photo album.

The first was accomplished with ease, and then I moved on to the second picture. I had seen several programs that actually advertised that they would instantly fix damaged photos, erase cracks, restore faded color (Not needed with this one as it is in black and white), etc. The problem was that I did not want to spend a small fortune to fix one photo, so I decided to see if any of the programs I already owned would be capable of doing what I wanted. Sure enough, Microsoft Picture It! Photo Premium, which came bundled with my computer, has this option. (I have version 9 for those of you who want an exact comparison.) Under 'Touchup', I scrolled to the bottom of the list and clicked on 'Other Photo Repair' where I had the option of choosing 'Remove Scratches', 'Remove Dust', or 'Restore Old Picture'. The Restore Old Picture option primarily just lets you fix the focus and contrast, but the other two did what they said, and after a very short amount of time under Remove Scratches, I had the photograph looking as spiffy as the day is was taken.

Everyone has photos like these treasures tucked away, many damaged much worse than this example, and other programs may be more capable of fixing extensive damage, but if you are looking for just a quick fix of a blemish on an old photo, take a good look at what photo editing software you already own. Oftentimes we are blind as to the basic functions of programs we already own, because we do not normally use these aspects of them. The best way to uncover if what you have installed will work for whatever task you would like it to do, is to browse the links or type in the specific task in the 'Help' section found within nearly every Windows bases program.

So nice did the photo turn out, I am going to print one larger than she requested, mat, and frame it just for her. As to the small ones printed for each of the grandchildren, I am sure they will appreciate such a clear look into their grandmother's past. Coupled with the copies of the snapshot of their grandmother and grandfather, I cannot think of a nicer gift during the holidays.

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