Photo retouching services

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Caduceus
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Photo retouching services

Post by Caduceus » Mon Jul 29, 2019 8:44 pm

I would like to design and print an album of old historical/genealogical photos. Many of these photos require some degree of repair/restoration because they are so old. Most of these are black and white photos, and there are some beautiful color ones. I already have high-quality scans of these photos that are almost completely dust-free, so it's just the restoration/repair/color correction that I need.

Has anyone done this and do you have any recommendations?

robphoto
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by robphoto » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:59 am

Here are my suggestions:

-- if it's just scratches, etc, you could learn how to do it yourself; either download Gimp (free) or subscribe to Photoshop for a month or two, and watch youtube videos

-- if you want someone to do it at moderate expense, you could try Craigslist (ask for samples, give them one to try, set a fixed price before giving them the job) or you could use an online service (most of this is offshore, like Pakistan). I have used them for jobs with hundreds of silhouettes, etc. Here is one company (though I have not used them): www.rush.photo

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nisiprius
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by nisiprius » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:33 am

I can't speak to the level of quality you need. I will say that I find the editing tools in Adobe Photoshop Elements--particularly the "dust and scratches" filter, the "spot healing brush," and the "clone stamp" for fixing eyecatching scratches and dust; the "color curves" control for greatly improving dark and "muddy" images; and the various color adjustment tools; to be easy to use, and very effective for improving old pictures so that you see the picture instead of seeing the problems.

The "dodge" tool, set for "highlights" seems like magic to me. It gives an effect rather as if a gentle spotlight were shining on something. I generally give a touch of it to every face, or anything that I want to sort of leap out of the background. It's very forgiving--it doesn't seem to produce obvious giveaway blobs.

The various "sharpening" effects are less successful, you can't make a blurry picture sharp, but if you apply them in moderation, but you can make a subtle improvement--still not "sharp" but "better."

That's different from making a photo, or making the adjustments undetectable, or turning faces with wrinkles into conventionally-perfect smooth faces.

I don't want in the slightest to underrate what a professional can do. I'm just saying that it might be worth trying to see how far you can go with "do it yourself."
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Sandtrap
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:38 am

nisiprius wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:33 am
I can't speak to the level of quality you need. I will say that I find the editing tools in Adobe Photoshop Elements--particularly the "dust and scratches" filter, the "spot healing brush," and the "clone stamp" for fixing eyecatching scratches and dust; the "color curves" control for greatly improving dark and "muddy" images; and the various color adjustment tools; to be easy to use, and very effective for improving old pictures so that you see the picture instead of seeing the problems.

The "dodge" tool, set for "highlights" seems like magic to me. It gives an effect rather as if a gentle spotlight were shining on something. I generally give a touch of it to every face, or anything that I want to sort of leap out of the background. It's very forgiving--it doesn't seem to produce obvious giveaway blobs.

The various "sharpening" effects are less successful, but if you apply them in moderation, you can't make a blurry picture sharp, but you can make a subtle improvement--still not "sharp" but "better."

That's different from making a photo, or making the adjustments undetectable, or turning faces with wrinkles into conventionally-perfect smooth faces.

I don't want in the slightest to underrate what a professional can do. I'm just saying that it might be worth trying to see how far you can go with "do it yourself."
+1
See what you can do yourself with inexpensive software, scanner, etc.
A professional will have high end scanners, etc.
Professional software is expensive and the learning curve is steep. (it takes several programs for archival quality).
And, the proficiency curve to pro level is very steep. (you get what you pay for).
Beware, those who advertise or "say" that they can post process professionally, many will simply use "auto" features to get some improvement but it takes arduous work to get archival restoration if that is what you seek.

So, first realize what your expectations are. Improved cell phone photo quality with free software editing tools, or archival restoration.
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lthenderson
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by lthenderson » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:34 am

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to touch up all my historical photographs. It has much more powerful tools than Elements but has a bit steeper price tag and learning curve. But once you do a few tutorials, it is well worth it in my opinion. If you are just wanting a one and done tool, Elements is probably the way to go. If you see yourself doing this over the rest of your life, spring for Lightroom.

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Watty
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by Watty » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:04 pm

There will be some damage that really needs to be repaired but one thing to watch out for is that you may not want to overly restore the photos since having them show some of their age is what helps give them their appeal and ambience. When in doubt use a light hand in correcting any photos.

When I was working on my old family photos I usually left them somewhat yellowed with minor imperfections. I also made sure that I kept a folder of unretouched photos so that I could always go back to the original.

For many of them I also added about a quarter of an inch at the bottom with text that said something like "John Smith c1920" since unidentified images don't really mean a lot.
nisiprius wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:33 am
I can't speak to the level of quality you need. I will say that I find the editing tools in Adobe Photoshop Elements--particularly the "dust and scratches" filter, the "spot healing brush," and the "clone stamp" for fixing eyecatching scratches and dust; the "color curves" control for greatly improving dark and "muddy" images; and the various color adjustment tools; to be easy to use, and very effective for improving old pictures so that you see the picture instead of seeing the problems.
+1

You can try watching a few videos on Youtube to see how it is done.

You can download a free trial version of it from Adobe, but you can usually find it for a lower price elsewhere. See the free trial link in the top right corner of this screen.

https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-elements.html

I did not look at the details but typically you get a full version for 30 days and that may be long enough to do what you need to do.
lthenderson wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:34 am
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to touch up all my historical photographs. It has much more powerful tools than Elements but has a bit steeper price tag and learning curve. But once you do a few tutorials, it is well worth it in my opinion. If you are just wanting a one and done tool, Elements is probably the way to go. If you see yourself doing this over the rest of your life, spring for Lightroom.
Unless they improved it in the last year I found the clone stamp and spot healing in lightroom to be very quirky and not as good as the same tools in Photoshop Elements. I could not justify the monthly fees for it so I went to using Photoshop Elements since I typically only pay to upgrade it every four or five years.

Lightroom is more geared for someone who takes hundreds of photographs a month.

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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by fru-gal » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:14 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:04 pm
For many of them I also added about a quarter of an inch at the bottom with text that said something like "John Smith c1920" since unidentified images don't really mean a lot.
That's an excellent idea. I've tried to do this with photonames, but that is very clumsy. Also do it when you scan things in, otherwise you will wind up with archival boxes full of unlabeled photographs (don't ask how I know this.)

I use free HP Photosmart Premier to touch up photos.

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lthenderson
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by lthenderson » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:14 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:04 pm
lthenderson wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:34 am
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to touch up all my historical photographs. It has much more powerful tools than Elements but has a bit steeper price tag and learning curve. But once you do a few tutorials, it is well worth it in my opinion. If you are just wanting a one and done tool, Elements is probably the way to go. If you see yourself doing this over the rest of your life, spring for Lightroom.
Unless they improved it in the last year I found the clone stamp and spot healing in lightroom to be very quirky and not as good as the same tools in Photoshop Elements. I could not justify the monthly fees for it so I went to using Photoshop Elements since I typically only pay to upgrade it every four or five years.

Lightroom is more geared for someone who takes hundreds of photographs a month.
I found the cloning and spot healing to be very good in Lightroom and I would think that since they are both from the same company, there would be no differences in usability, only features included in each version.

I don't pay a monthly subscription for Lightroom. I bought it and have used the same version for about four years now with no monthly or yearly subscription fee.

I did mention that Lightroom is geared towards using it often and not a one and done use.

bampf
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by bampf » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:19 pm

There are a number of labs out there that can and will do the editing for you. If you google photo retouch, mpixpro comes up quickly and they do good work. The other thing you may consider is your local high end camera store. A lot of these places used to do development work and they can import your photos and retouch for you. It won't be cheap, but, it depends on what you value. I use the heck out of Adobe Lightroom and various other products. Not super easy to get good at it, but, it can be rewarding.

--Bampf

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Caduceus
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by Caduceus » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:59 pm

I am a bit surprised at the number of people recommending that I learn and use Photoshop myself. I am quite intimidated by that software! Wouldn't it be a very steep learning curve?

To give you a sense of what I want in terms of the end result, take a look at the second photo in the first row of this link, expertly retouched: https://www.queensberry.com/blog/interv ... istian-oth

I love the atmospheric feel of the black and white photo in the link above, especially the interplay of the lights and shadows, and I can't imagine being able to re-touch my photo to get it like that.

Now, the vast majority of my family photos (above 95%) are sub-par (people just don't take very good shots!). But I've selected the top 200 photos with great composition, shadows, lighting, etc., that I think with expert retouching can become really beautiful prints like the above. They need some slight scratch removal, but mostly what I need is someone to change the look/feel of the pictures (especially the black and white ones) to become like the photo above. Would I be able to get results like that by adjusting color curves/levels? If you think so, I might give it a try at learning Photoshop. My guess was that it takes lots and lots of experience to be able to retouch photos to that level - am I wrong?

This would only be for 100-200 photos that I want to print as a coffee-table style book and that will be passed down to the next generations.

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lthenderson
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by lthenderson » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:04 am

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:59 pm
My guess was that it takes lots and lots of experience to be able to retouch photos to that level - am I wrong?
I think you could spend a half hour watching Youtube videos of retouching black and white photos with Photoshop software and you would be able to do it yourself. It might take you weeks or months to learn to fully use all the features, but simply retouching photos is not really that hard.

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PalmQueen
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by PalmQueen » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:21 am

Caduceus wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:59 pm
I am a bit surprised at the number of people recommending that I learn and use Photoshop myself. I am quite intimidated by that software! Wouldn't it be a very steep learning curve?

To give you a sense of what I want in terms of the end result, take a look at the second photo in the first row of this link, expertly retouched: https://www.queensberry.com/blog/interv ... istian-oth

I love the atmospheric feel of the black and white photo in the link above, especially the interplay of the lights and shadows, and I can't imagine being able to re-touch my photo to get it like that.

This would only be for 100-200 photos that I want to print as a coffee-table style book and that will be passed down to the next generations.
Yes, as others have suggested, you could probably use the auto features of Photoshop to quickly make an album preserving your family photos. However, to get the kind of end result in your example photo takes more than just following step-by-step instructions. It takes years of experience and experimentation.

I've been restoring old photos using Photoshop/Lightroom for 10 years and IMHO there's a steep learning curve.
It might also involve upgrading your computer and monitor. The monitor's important so what you see on your screen matches what comes out of the printer. A large high-resolution monitor also enables you to magnify sections being retouched to work on tiny details and actually see each pixel in the photo to understand what's there (and what's not there).

It sounds like you've done a good job of curating the collection to include the best of the best photos. That's half the battle right there. Now it comes down to budget and where you want to allocate time/money to it.

As to your original question, I use MPIX.com when I print photos. I haven't used them for retouching/restoration, but believe they offer that service. You could start by sending them one photo and see what you think of the quality/price.

Edited to add: If you'd like to get a sense for whether or not learning photo retouching is something you'd enjoy pursuing, I suggest checking out KelbyOne: https://kelbyone.com/. They offer a free trial subscription you could use to sample their courses.

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PalmQueen
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Re: Photo retouching services

Post by PalmQueen » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:48 am

Here's a source for photo restoration and quality printing:

North Coast Photographic Services
https://northcoastphoto.com

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