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Fixing a Damaged Print

An image like the photo in Figure 4 will take some time to repair because the photograph has been severely scratched over the years. You can use a tool such as the Spot Healing brush and click on each damaged spot in the image to fix it. Do this one spot at a time.

Figure 4

Figure 4 The years have not dealt kindly with this portrait, and it will take a lot of effort to fix the damage.

Alternately, if you lack the patience needed for such small fixes, you can use a tool such as the Dust and Scratches filter. But just don't expect it to repair all the damage. Instead, use it to simply remove the smaller damaged areas and then fix the larger damaged areas yourself, one at a time. When using the Dust and Scratches filter, keep the radius to a minimum level and adjust the threshold to give the best balance between the amount of the fix and the blurring that the fix will make to the image. Removing blemishes this way will result in an overall softening of the image so you must make a trade-off between the fix and adding more damage (albeit of a different kind) to the photo. The image in Figure 5 shows the result of the Dust and Scratches filter having been applied to the image and some of the remainder of the damage having been fixed.

Figure 5

Figure 5 On the way to a final fix, some of the damage has been repaired, but there's more to be done.

Remember, too, that you can limit the fix by applying it to only the area that needs it. To do this, apply the fix to a duplicate layer and use a layer mask to remove the fix where it isn't required. When using the new Photoshop CS2 Spot Healing brush on an image like this, take care and use the smallest brush possible to cover the problem area. Check each correction after you have made it and use Edit > Undo to undo a correction if it doesn't look right.

The child's skin on this image shows some mottling, which can be fixed by making a composite layer of the image once the dust and scratches are fixed (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E) and then blurring the layer and setting it to a Darken blend mode. Add a layer mask to this layer and remove the blurred detail where it isn't required—particularly around the eyes, nose, shadows, and mouth. Now adjust the levels using a levels adjustment layer to ensure a good tonal range. Finally, sharpen the result—especially around the eyes and lips—to finish. Although it is common practice to sharpen an entire image, you can alternatively use a composite layer (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E) and a layer mask to sharpen only discrete areas of the image for the best results.

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