Mabel Rose (Photo Retouch Project)

mabel rose photo restorationAs part of Photoshop project finals at Conestoga, students were asked to include at least one photo that had been restored (utilizing colorization and other FX is desired). So I chose an old photograph of my grandmother, Mabel Crich (my mother’s mother), and challenged myself to go beyond simply restoring the cleanliness and clarity of the original and focus on depth, rendering the image as a painting where the subject (Mabel) really stood forward from the background.

The effort was a multi-layered one. Beginning with a scan of the damaged original photo, I used the Healing Brush and Patch tools to repair and improve the overall image (adjusting hue and saturation settings along the way). Over this base layer, I added a near-duplicate of the restored image for a subtle blended effect—a two tone treatment (involving Colorburn) not varying too much from reality. Then I tried something I hadn’t done before. I created a third layer with a mask around the subject and further amplified saturation to accentuate a foreground-to-background look. Applying Shake Reduction to add more depth (from the crispness of the foreground to the slightly blurrier background), I added a subtle drop-shadow to pull the subject still further toward the foreground. Applying the Accented Edges filter to the background, I set the overall image with a rose tint as a tribute to my mother, whose favorite color was rose and who’d loved her mother deeply. So my overall impetus in beginning the project was to honor the bond between mothers and daughters—to edge the seemingly ordinary toward the extraordinary.

As a first attempt at a new image-restoration technique, I was pretty happy with the outcome—including a philosophical one, that in working with any kind of imagery in the future, I might find much in considering what I’m drawing forth or contributing to in terms of depth, either focally or artistically.

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