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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Object removal . . .

Each day in my business of restoring old photographs at www.BestPhotoRepair.com , I encounter all kinds of photo manipulation requests, from simple digital retouching to more complex restoration work. But my favorite type of request is object removal.

I guess I enjoy it, because I really get to use my imagination. When you remove an object, especially an object in the foreground of a photograph, you must replace it with something, otherwise you are left with an unsightly blank space.

And that's where real imagination and creativity come in, because it is usually left up to the restoration artist to determine "what's missing", once an object as been removed from an image.

Although there are a lot of different ways to remove an object from an image, I decided to focus on the "Patch Aware Fill" method.

Below you will find a quick step by step guide on how to best fill that blank space, leaving a flawless image behind.

Open an image with an object you need to remove, like this sign posts in the image above.
If you're working with a single-layered document, duplicate it by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J).
If you have multiple layers, activate the topmost layer and create a copy of all visible layers by pressing Shift-Alt-Ctrl-E (on a PC). Double-click the duplicated layer's name and rename it.
Select the Patch tool. Once you've selected the patch tool, make sure you selected "source" from the menu at the top.
Click-and-drag to "paint" a selection onto the object you wish to remove from the image.
Once you have the object selected, move the selection over an area in the image that looks very similar to the area from which you are removing the object.
(For example, if you are removing an object from in front of a bush, select a similar looking area of the bush to fill in the space over the object you are removing.)
The patch tool will give you an idea of what you are capturing in the selection.
Once you find an area of the image you want to "paste" over the object, drop the selection. I say drop, because I use a Wacom table and pen, so all I need to do is release the selection over the new area and the patch tool will take that area and blend it into the area you are filling, or in this case, it will blend it over the object you are removing.
Obviously this method does not work on every image nor every object, but it's a great place to get started.
Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tips for scanning your images to be restored . . .

Do you have old faded or torn photos that you'd like to give a facelift? Have you been meaning to take that box of old photos from Grandma and scan them onto a CD? Learning to create and edit digital photos is fairly easy and very worthwhile. Digitally restored photos can be used to create digital scrapbooks, posted to Web sites, shared through email, and printed for gift-giving or display.

You don't have to be a technology whiz or a graphic designer to become proficient at photo restoration, but you will need a computer, a scanner, and a good (not necessarily expensive) graphics program.

Scanning Tips for Digital Photos
1) Check your photos for dirt, lint, or smudges. Gently remove surface dust and dirt with a soft brush or lint-free photowipe. Canned air, available at most office supply stores, helps to blast away dust and lint from photographic slides, but is not recommended for heirloom print photos.
2) Check the scanner glass for lint, hair, fingerprints, or smudges. Use a lint-free pad or wipe to thoroughly clean the glass (basically anything which is sold as safe for cleaning camera lenses will also work for your scanner). Household glass cleaner can be used to clean your scanner glass, as long as you're careful to spray it directly on the cloth before wiping, not directly on the glass surface. When using your scanner or handling photographs, it is best to wear clean white cotton gloves (available from photo stores and hardware stores) to avoid leaving skin oils on your scanner or photos.
3) Specify the type of scan. If you're scanning photos, you have a basic choice of color photo vs. black and white. When scanning family photos, it is usually best to scan in color, even if the source photo is black & white. You'll have more manipulation options, and you can change a color photo to black & white (greyscale), but not the other way around.
4) Determine the best scan resolution to assure the quality and usefulness of your digital photos. The optimal resolution depends on how the image will be printed, saved, or displayed. A good rule of thumb is to scan your photos at a minimum of 300dpi (Dots Per Inch) to assure decent quality for enhancement and restoration techniques. 600dpi or greater is even better if you plan to eventually store these photos on CD or DVD, and have the space on your computer harddrive to handle such large images short-term.
5) Carefully position your photo on the scanner face down on the glass, just like on a photocopy machine. Then hit "prescan" or "preview." The scanner will take a quick pass of the image and display a rough version on your screen. Check to see that it's straight, that no part of the photo has been cut off, and that the photo appears free of dust and lint.
6) Crop the previewed image to include only the original photo. For archival purposes you should not crop only a portion of the photo at this point (you can do that later if you want a cropped photo for a specific purpose), but you should make sure that all you are scanning is the actual photograph. Some scanners and software will do this step for you automatically.
7) Avoid corrections while scanning. After scanning, you'll be able to edit the image in a graphics software program which offers much more control. The order should be: 1. Scan a basic image, 2. Save it, 3. Play with it.
8) Check your file size to make sure that the resolution you have chosen isn't going to create a photo that is so large that it's going to crash your computer. Some computers have enough free memory to handle 34MB photo files, and some don't. If the file size is going to be larger than you thought, then adjust the scan resolution accordingly before making the file scan.
9) Scan the original image. This shouldn't take too long, but could take a few minutes if you're scanning at a very high resolution. Take a quick bathroom break, or get your next photo ready for scanning.


Monday, February 1, 2016

How to make people look slimmer in photographs . . .

It is the comment I get most often when I am taking pictures of women. "Make me look skinnier, OK?" Everybody wants to look their thinnest in their photographs and with a few simple tips, and it often seems that the camera does add 10 pounds, but, following a few simple rules can lose those camera pounds and make your subjects look their best.

1. Watch heads. People tend to do one of two things when you are shooting straight on, they either bring their heads up, exposing a lot of neck, or they bring them down too much giving themselves a double chin. Try to level  their heads to look at you straight on.

2. Suggest to your subject that they wear dark clothing. It is true, black is slimming. This is an especially good suggestion to make to brand new moms when you are shooting newborn photos. Their black shirt makes a great back drop to have them hold the baby against and it will make them look and feel thinner. 
3. Shoot from above. Get above your subjects and shoot looking down at them. This is one of the things you have the most control over and is very effective.

4. Twist. Having your subject twist sideways instead of facing the camera straight on will make them look thinner every time.

Using just a couple of these tips, you can make your subjects look their best and give them photographs you'll both love!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to find a photographer

First we'll start with wedding photography.

There are many important factors that must be considered when selecting a photographer for your wedding.

Be sure to . . .

1) Compare and interview photographers.

One of the most important factors when making your decision should be whether the photographer is a member of PPA ( Professional Photographers of America) or some other professional organization. Most organizations require their members to operate thier businesses according to a certain set of standards, and if a prospective photographer is not a member of one of those organizations, chances are there's a reason. Don't be afraid to ask.

2) It's important that a prospective photographer is able to show you more than one COMPLETE wedding and not just a few of the best photographs taken from a variety of weddings.

The above fact is VERY important and may be hard to come by, but you should NOT settle for anything less! Just about anyone can snap hundreds if not thousands of pictures during a day long event like a wedding and be fairly certain that a small percentage of those photographs will be good. But that's not good enough. Ask your prospective photographer to see ALL of the photos from more than one wedding, not just a selection of his best work, which is what some photographers will attempt to provide. If you look at ALL of the images from 4 or 5 different weddings and you are impressed by what you see, then you can be certain that he or she is a professional wedding photographer and not just a part timer that got lucky on a few shots here and there. This is the true test of an exceptional professional photographer! You’ll be spending a lot of money on your wedding photography, so make sure you KNOW what you’re buying!

3) Make sure you feel comfortable with your photographer. 

It's not enough to just like your photographer or his or her work, it's important that you really click with him or her and feel good about the person you have chosen to capture your most intimate moments, afterall you and your guests will be dealing with him throughout your entire wedding day and for months beyond! In addition, if the photographer makes you feel uncomfortable, you will be less likely to feel comfortable posing for photographs, which defeats the purpose of hiring a photographer in the first place.

4) If possible, try to avoid photography studios that contract their work out to other photographers. In other words, make certain that the delightful, talented photographer you spoke to prior to the big day will be the photographer who is actually photographing your big day.

At A Glance: Important Questions to Ask.

5) If I hire you to photograph my wedding day, can you guarantee me that you will be the photographer photographing my wedding?

6) If yes, do you have a back up plan in the event you are unable to photograph my wedding?

7) Do you offer retouching?

8) If so, do you charge extra for that service?

9) Do you do all the retouching in house?

10) Is there an additional fee for special finishes such as black and white and sepia?

11) Do you offer special services, such as handcoloring?

12) Do you offer packages?

13) What is included in your packages? 

14) Are you willing to arrive early to photograph us (bride and groom) before the ceremony, if we decide to do that?

15) Do you arrive early to get the getting dressed shots?

16) Do your packages include one or two photographers?

17) Do you charge extra for a second photographer?

18) Do you work with an assistant?

19) Do you have backup equipment, in the event something fails or breaks?

20) Are you a film based studio? Digital? Or both?

21) If you are a digital studio, do you provide online proofing of my wedding day images? 

22) Do you provide a CD of my wedding day images?

23) How do you present and deliver the proofs? (very important for out of town brides)

24) Do you charge an additional fee if the wedding service and reception are in two different locations?

25) Do you charge extra if we want to go to a third location for pictures?  

26) Do you charge a travel fee?

27) Do you offer only traditional albums or do you offer a variety of options to choose from, like Storybook albums and coffee table style books?

28) Do you design the special albums yourself?

29) Do you work with a videographer?

30) How many photos do you take during a typical wedding?

31) Do you sell the negatives?

32) Do you offer parent albums?

33) Do your packages include photographing the rehearsal dinner?

As you can see from the above, it's very important to ask lots of questions when selecting your wedding photographer, as it will help you avoid any unwanted surprises on your special day! 

Kevin Winkler