Editing old pictures


Editing photos do make them look much better, or that's how I think after trying a few simple tricks to improve my old photos. These tricks I have learned by seeing what others have done and from tutorials I have found on Internet. …

Very first thing you may wish to do for a photo is some improvements on contrast, brightness or white balance. On photo editing software there are usually tools like 'auto levels, contrast and color', which you can try. However, I recommend not to accept them without criticism. Try the tool, but if you have even small doubts about the results, then just undo and try something else. For example sometimes 'auto leves' fails to make the colors natural. Then you may get better results with 'auto contrast'. And sometimes the picture is perfect just as it is.

Another thing you can do is tamper the levels manually. Here's a good tutorial how to do levels on PhotoShop. There's very similar tool also on GIMP, so that tutorial should work for GIMP just as well.

Next step is to check if there's much noise that may look bad especially when the picture is enlarged. If you enlarge the previous picture right after 'auto leves', you may notice there's quite much small speckles on it. This is because the photo is taken in poor light conditions using high ISO value.

This noise can be reduced by running so called 'smart blur' ('selective gaussian blur' on GIMP). The recommended values are somewhere around 7 for radius and treshold (radius and delta on GIMP). What are the right values depends very much on the size of an original picture and your personal taste, but do not exaggerate. You may not get all noise removed because this smart blur actually does exactly what it says: it blurs the picture.

Dark vignettes have become quite popular lately. The idea is to make the corners of the image look a little darker than the center, thus giving more vivid and a bit dramatic touch for the picture. This can be achieved simple by using a dark layer where's blurred hole cut through. Here's a short instruction how to do that:

  1. Add layer
  2. Fill in the layer with black paint
  3. Cut circle or any shape you like in the middle
  4. Deselect if the selection does not get unselected after cutting the hole
  5. Add 'Gaussian blur' and be quite generous with it

From here on you have different possibilities:

  1. Change the opacity of vignetting layer
  2. Change the opacity of fill
  3. Change the mode of vignetting layer to 'Overlay' (option at least on PhotoShop)
  4. Change the mode of vignetting layer to 'Soft Light' (option on PhotoShop and GIMP)

You can even combine those by choosing 'overlay' and decreasing the opacity for the layer. Here's more or less the same explained for GIMP. In that tutorial there's layer mask used but I really don't know why ๐Ÿ˜€ You can just as well cut the hole into layer.

Taking these few steps you get started easily. More tricks maybe coming in near future ๐Ÿ˜‰

EDIT: As you may noticed, large speckles are not removed, and that would be impossible withe the tool I described. If you happen to know way to lessen those larger speckles, then please give feedback.

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19 thoughts on “Editing old pictures

  1. Thanks for the visit Qlue ๐Ÿ™‚ These tricks are actually really easy to do once you get used to editing photos. And the difference is sometimes huge!Have a look for example on these two photos:BeforeAfter

  2. I'm glad if you find this useful :cheers: Another option on Photoshop and GIMP is to use 'gradient' tool. On Photoshop it is "behind" the paint bucket. Just right click on paint bucket and you can switch to gradient tool. So:1. First paint new layer into black.2. Switch to gradient tool.3. On gradient tool toolbar, select round gradient and invert.4. Start from middle of the picture and draw a line to one of the corners with gradient.5. Switch the layer mode to 'Overlay' or 'Soft light'.The only problem is that 'gradient' makes the center of the image much lighter. Therefore you may need to make the image on background darker and then decrease the opacity of vignetting layer.

  3. I actually LOVE noise in some pics…I love adding texture to the pics, and adjust bright contrast can help achieve more of a 'pop' to the pic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Originally posted by angel292005:

    I love adding texture to the pics

    That's something I still need to practice ๐Ÿ™‚ Originally posted by angel292005:

    I actually LOVE noise in some pics..

    Depends on the picture and type of noise but in general I like the noise as well :up:

  5. Have You done the Dishes Yet Ya Slacker??:confused:

    Seriously this is such a Helpful Tutorial Sami for Gimp & Photoshop :doh: I Never knew that "Gaussian Blur" de-noised Photos that have Poor Resolution or shot in low Light I just assumed it Made the Photo look really ๐Ÿ˜Ž with it's Intense Blurry effects & Shimmer to Top layer.
    The Part about White balance, Contrast & Brightness is What I do without Fail always 1st to Editing any Photo as this way of Toggling with effects guarantees a nice Finishing Touch as sometimes that's all You Need to add with some Editing like You said Usually some Photos are Perfect just the
    the way they are & they only need the Basics to improve their Quality.
    With Auto level Tools like Colour Balance or Contrast I'm also a bit Critical of using as it doesn't make the Final Result of the pic look Natural any more & they loose their Lustre so it can Look False I think but Auto levels have their shining Moments also when You want to Animate or be a Bit more Creative & Artistic but Your Right to just be Aware if you want to use Them for Basic Photo Editing.

    My Quotes I think is working on this Page it has a Mind of it's own which is very Annoying & Frustrating for Me the way they are not Working on all Pages. Originally posted by serola:

    Originally posted by angel292005:

    I love adding texture to the pics

    That's something I still need to practice ๐Ÿ™‚ Originally posted by angel292005:

    I actually LOVE noise in some pics..

    Depends on the picture and type of noise but in general I like the noise as well :up:

    Yay it Worked on this Page not the Last one However. I also Noise in Certain Photos & depending on the other Effects that are used but sometimes it can make the pic look literally like utter Crap.

  6. I just did some "Gimping" which is a Nickname that I made up 4 Photo Editing with Gimp & I used one of the Colour Balance Tools under "Colour Tool" so I toggled with the Yellow, Red & Cyan slides & then I applied a "Gaussian Blur" Layer & then finished it off with "Sharp Unmask".If Your still Online I'll upload it to My Main Photo Album on my Blog Page ASAP.

  7. I keep my camera pretty much always set to underexpose by 2/3 stop, so I don't blow the highlights. (Sometimes they blow anyway, but that's neither here nor there.) Then the first thing I hit is "Auto levels". Sometimes it's perfect, sometimes it's really wacky, and sometimes it actually goes the wrong way. Go figure. But a lot of the time it's close enough that I can tweak it with the other tools, mostly "Brightness/Contrast", "Hue/Saturation", and "Levels". Sometimes "Curves" or "Colour balance", but I'm not very good with "Curves", and "Colour balance" can be kinda crude. "Variations" can be fabulous, but you have to be willing to spend the time on it.Mostly I'm trying to make the picture look like what I saw with my eyes (Hey, if I didn't like what I saw, why would I shoot it?), with maybe a touch more "snap", maybe not.The big problem in digital photography is that it's a lot like TV … it's getting better, but it's still not film. TV has a very limited brightness range … when I was making TV slides for instructional videos, we were stuck with a range of 1:30. That's not very much. Digital is not that bad,but it looks like it's not sharp … I've heard pros complain that digital cameras aren't sharp. Right … they've got state of the art cameras and lenses, and they're not sharp? Gimme a break! The photos just don't LOOK sharp, but they are. The contrast is low, and perceived sharpness is a function of contrast. That's what the greatest tool (in my estimation) that P'shop has is "Unsharp mask". It increases contrast, pixel-by-pixel, and it's very controllable.My favourite way to get rid of noise is the "brute force" way … I enlarge the picture and use the Clone stamp tool to take out the damned dots, one-by-one. Yes, it's royal PIA, but it gets the job done.

  8. Originally posted by Kelisha:

    If Your still Online I'll upload it to My Main Photo Album on my Blog Page ASAP.

    Obviously I was not :DOriginally posted by derWandersmann:

    That's what the greatest tool (in my estimation) that P'shop has is "Unsharp mask". It increases contrast, pixel-by-pixel, and it's very controllable.

    Sometimes it just seem to add a "halo" around objects, and that is not nice :(Originally posted by derWandersmann:

    My favourite way to get rid of noise is the "brute force" way … I enlarge the picture and use the Clone stamp tool to take out the damned dots, one-by-one. Yes, it's royal PIA, but it gets the job done.

    :faint: All too much work for my taste ๐Ÿ˜†

  9. Originally posted by serola:

    Sometimes it just seem to add a "halo" around objects, and that is not nice

    I define that as "oversharpening". Back off. If that doesn't work, don't sharpen at all.

  10. First I wanted to say that this was a very helpful and interesting post.Next I wanted to share a few observations from my use of Unsharp Mask in GIMP. As to the "halo" that may result from Unsharp Mask, there are a couple ways around that. First on Gimp, I've noticed that you get more "halo" (and more "white noise") from Unsharp Mask the larger the value you use for "Radius". Try reducing the radius to until the halo disappears or is so small as to reach acceptable levels. Another way you can keep Unsharp Mask from adding noise or producing excessive halo is to use the lasso tool to select a specific area in the photo that you think needs to be sharpened. Set the feathering for the selected area to be something large. Depending on the resolution of the photo, I've gone as high as 30 pixels. Then run Unsharp Mask on just the selected area. The feathering keeps the halo from happening. Also the large value for feathering means that you can be pretty sloppy about selecting the area. The large feathering also helps disguise the fact that one area has been sharpened while other areas haven't been.

  11. Thanks for sharing the tips Deb :)I myself have started to use the 'Unsharp mask' available via 'Tools > GEGL Operation'. That one seem to work pretty well even with default values. Thanks to Kelisha for that tip :up:Another way to get very sophisticated sharpening are so called "redux" scripts: http://registry.gimp.org/search/node/reduxSo far I have tested the first one there, thanks to Przemysล‚aw for tip :up: But I now noticed there are improved versions. So, more tests needed ๐Ÿ˜€

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