Photoshop and Lightroom Photo Restoration

Damaged photo of the former Commander of the Canadian Army.

As most of you are aware, I'm a full-time regular force serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).  In the CAF I serve as a photographer, deploying and supporting the office of the Commander himself, which means you're never quite sure what's going to be crossing your desk, or where you may be deployed.  A few weeks ago a project to restore age-damaged images of former Commanders of the Canadian Army was assigned to me in a rush, and those of you who have any experience with photo restoration can agree, that can be one of the most trying jobs you can get.

Naturally the deadline didn't afford us the time to seek out and secure the original negatives, so I had no choice but to scan a series of 36 images which had been worn, faded, and bore the brunt of decades of tungsten bulbs.  Talk about a challenge, I put that Wacom to the test through all the layers, masks, filters, patching, cloning, painting, adjustments, etc., etc., etc., back and forth through Lightroom and Photoshop.  In the end we made our deadline, and the images have been shipped to be printed, matted and framed.  It's a strange thing, but some of the wear and tear wasn't even a simple matter of age.  The worst ones in the bunch were the result of poor handling, the grease on the hands of the people who handled the prints.  Take a look at this photo of Lieutenant-General Charles H. Belzile, former Commander, Mobile Command (Which is what the Canadian Army was previously called):


See how much needed adjustment in the image?  The orange splotches all over the original image are all grease from fingerprints, basically the image was ruined as a result of ignorance or indifference on the part of the person who framed or handled the print.

Honestly, though I'm personally not a fan of restoring images, there are few things that truly test your mastery of Photoshop more.  So, if you really want to grow as a photographer, particularly in the area of post-processing, I'd definitely suggest challenging yourself to restore a damaged photo to print quality.  Watch a few videos on YouTube about it, or drop me a line, I'd be glad to give some suggestions.

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