"The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as of the pen." -Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1936

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Photo Journal/Exercise 5 (DI): RESTORATION

Old family photographs are such precious artifacts. Going through my father's bookcase I found an old album containing old photographs of my late great grandfather's family. My father only remembers his grandfather and grandmother in these pictures, other members he can barely remember.

These photographs carry such interesting clues to the past ways of life, especially about the Chinese Indonesian families during the early 1900's. Note that the men in these pictures wear European (Dutch) style suits, whereas the women wear traditional Javanese dresses. And there's a plant sticking out in the middle of the picture that might be seen as funny. Why didn't they just move it and replant it after taking the picture? But I think it can also be seen as respectful towards all living things, including plants. "Let it be in the picture with us" :)

This is the first digital imaging exercise for the XP class, when we start to shift modes from being a photographer to being a photoshoper :) . There's something interesting also about utilizing modern digital technology, for something old and has a timeless value. With this Restoration exercise, we are utilizing most of the tools used for adjustments and retouching in Photoshop. It is a complex artform in itself. But it is a good exercise to be able to dive into DI quickly, and at the same time making something positive out of it for your family. You could even make it into your personal/family project.
So... the exercise is to restore one of your own family's old photo to its probable original crisp condition, whether in B&W or Color.
Then create 2 versions from it: 1 GOOD B&W PHOTO & 1 GOOD COLOR PHOTO.
- If you have a B&W PHOTO, you need to color it (use the Color blending mode in the Layer panel; using a mousepen would probably be better).
- If you have a COLOR PHOTO, you only need to create a B&W version after you've reconstructed the color to a "proper" condition (use Channel Mixer).

Some more rules & tips:
- Make sure the photo is from your own family/relative or your close friend. Stay away from copyrighted photos.
- Choose a photo that needs restoring the most (like the second photo seen above).
- Remember about non-destructive editing. Keep your original scan on the background layer. Use MANY Adjustment Layers & Maskings to edit selectively (for example Curves adjustment just for the needed areas, and cover the rest that don't need it with masking). Also remember that you can CLIP your Adjustment Layers just for a specific Layer without affecting other Layers below it.

To turn in with a CD:
- Save your original PSD file(s) with the complete layers.
- Save a copy also for each of your BEFORE & AFTER pictures to medium JPEG's for fast review. (1 Before photo, & 2 After photos: in B&W & Color).

You can go to digitalretouch.org for some references.