Loss And A Restoration

Two days before Valentine’s Day, my friend Indrani lost her dad. His passing was sudden and unexpected, and the funeral of this respected and loved retired professor, father and grandfather was packed to the brim. Even the overflow seating was overflowing with family and friends coming to pay respect.

His three daughters spoke about his love of life, of his caring nature, how 3 weeks before his death he and their mom were on vacation, riding elephants in Asia. They talked about how he loved teaching, gardening, and playing with his grandchildren. Then two of his friends stood up and told hilarious, heartwarming stories about Dr. Sen, showing that it wasn’t just his family who loved him; his friends and coworkers valued their relationships with him as well.

A few days after the funeral, Indrani called to catch up. The funeral had been such a blur, with emotions still so close to the surface and all the people who were there. She asked if I knew any place that could restore an old photo of her dad. It was an old, glossy black and white photo from 1968, that ripped right across his face when someone tried to remove the photo from an album. I asked her to let me try to restore it digitally, by scanning it and using Photoshop to remove the tears and wrinkles from the image. She gave me the photo and I brought it home to work on it. The worst of the rips were across the left side of his face, and little flaps of the photo were folded over exposing blank spaces in the image. Step 1: Original Scan of an old photo I very slowly smoothed the flaps down with a small piece of tape placed on the back of the photo. It took a few different tries to get the very fragile photograph to cooperate without damaging it further, but I managed to get a decent scan to use as a base for the restoration.

I started with his face, removing the cracks and wrinkles with the clone tool in Photoshop.

Step 2: Start with the easy parts

After finishing his face, I moved on to the background.

Step 3: Once the easy part is finished, work on the background. Once I was happy with the background, I went back over his face and the nose area to make sure I had gotten all of the details.

Step 5: ready in Photoshop, only needs the noise removed

The restoration was finished, but because the original photo was so small, it was very grainy and pixelated and wouldn’t have made a great print. I opened the restored image in Adobe Lightroom and smoothed it out so that it could be printed.

Step 6: Reduced noise in Lighroom. Final image, ready for printing and framing

Lastly, I wanted to make sure that Indrani would get a good print out of the finished image, so I printed a 5×7 at Richmond Camera, and was thrilled beyond words with the result:

Finished product: Before and After Photo Restoration

When friends lose loved ones, especially suddenly, it can be hard to find the proper way to support them. I suppose that’s why so many people cook; it’s so much easier to feel like you’ve helped someone through the grieving process when you’ve physically done something useful. I felt like I was able to help in my own little way by putting the pieces of this photo back together. I hope so.