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Repair Time-Faded 
Photos GIMP

 

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Repair Time Damaged Photographs
GIMP (GNU) -
Intermediate Plus

Correct Time-faded Photographs GIMP
Correct Time-faded Photographs GIMP

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This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to repair time-damaged photographs.  To work along, you are welcome to download the Scanned Start Image I am working with HereUnzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.

Repairing photographs is not a precise science. Undoubtedly, you will require considerable patience and lots of time. Additionally, individual photographs have different needs, and require different filters and commands. This type of photo editing cannot be rushed. For a good result, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time, and to take a break as soon as you feel eyestrain. In addition, remember save your work (
as a XCF File) regularly.

Notes
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from
the subsequent drop-down list.

Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes

The Clone Tool
The Eraser Tool
The Healing Tool
The Smudge Tool
The Free Select Tool
The Dodge and Burn Tools
The Crop And Rotate Tools
Replace Washed Out Skies With A Photograph
Replace Washed Out Skies With A Sky Coloured Gradient

Sharpen Images
Apply A Simple Border

Note
An important point to bear in mind is there is no right, or wrong way, of rescuing photographs. My lesson demonstrates the steps I took for my image, and the exact steps may not be appropriate for your image. Therefore, for personal results, it’s important to experiment with GIMP’s photo enhancing filters and commands.

Time And The Environment
Moisture, heat and light effect different photographs in unique ways; different colour dyes - cyan, yellow and magenta, fade at different stages. Fading is inconsistent because (depending on the dye), colour reacts differently to the environment. In older prints, cyan is usually the first colour to fade; when cyan fades, the colour starts to shift in the opposite direction, which creates a red colour cast.

1/
If necessary, Scan your photograph; and then open it onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.

Duplicate Your Image
It’s important to preserve your original image: therefore, Duplicate your image; Ctrl then D - (Image then Duplicate). Now, close the original image, and work on the Duplicated image.

Note
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).



Important
Filter settings are specific for my Start Image. When using your own, it’s important to experiment with different filters, combination of filters, and filter settings.

2/ Crop Out The Border
If your image has a border, you may want to activate the
Crop Tool, and crop it out.

(You can quickly apply a
Border Script, after you have corrected your image).





3/ Adjust The Colour Balance
Now, to remove the red hue. From the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Colour Balance. And from the subsequent Colour Balance dialogue box, drag the Cyan slider to the left, and then click OK.





4/ Despeckle
Then from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Enhance and then choose Despeckle. And from the subsequent Despeckle dialogue box, enter the following settings, and then click OK.
 




5/ Auto Colour Enhance
Now, from the top menu, choose Colours then choose Auto and then choose Colour Enhance. (This is a one-step Filter, with no settings to tweak).



6/ Adjust White Balance
From the top menu, choose Colours then chose Auto and then choose White Balance. (Again, this is a one-step Filter, with no settings to tweak).



7/ Adjust The Levels
Now, from the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Levels. And from the subsequent Levels dialogue box, drag the Black Point, the Grey Point (Gamma) and the White Point Sliders to the following positions, and then click OK.





Tip
Now is a good time to save your work as a
GIMP XCF File.

8/
Congratulations, you have successfully repaired your time-faded image, and it’s time to repair and any blend tears or stains, and to replace missing pixel data using my on-line GIMP tutorials below. Remember, the best tool is experienceTherefore, experiment with the Filters and Commands I have mentioned in this tutorial, (as well as all GIMP’s photographic Tools), until you are satisfied with the result.

There are limitations as to what can be achieved, if parts of your image are badly faded - like for example the sky in my photograph, then there is little you can do to bring back the missing data - it is lost forever. The sky of my scanned image is missing, and to replace it, I isolated it with a
Selection Marquee, then applied a blue Sky Blue Gradient to it.

The Clone Tool
The Eraser Tool
The Healing Tool
The Smudge Tool
The Free Select Tool
The Dodge and Burn Tools
The Crop And Rotate Tools
Replace Washed Out Skies With A Photograph
Replace Washed Out Skies With A Sky Coloured Gradient

Sharpen Images
Apply A Simple Border

Now you are familiar with this technique, you can, with time and patience, repair precious, time-damaged photographs.

Correct Time-faded Photographs GIMP


Wendi E. M. Scarth. 
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