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Photo Rework & Restoration

© 2010 SF Kinney, Released under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 License

One of the most powerful aspects of digital photography is that any desktop computer can serve as a darkroom for comprehensive post exposure processing. Most people who use digital cameras have little or no idea how to repair or enhance images, but for those who are interested the field is wide open. The GIMP, a full featured photo editing suite native to Linux but available for all major operating systems, assures that professional quality photo editing costs nothing - nothing, that is, except the time it takes to learn how to process images, which is not a trivial prospect. To build a foundation in image editing theory and technique and move beyond primitive "preset push button" editing takes hundreds of hours of work and study. The images presented here are examples of my own work in this area - always, of course, a work in progress as available tools and my own skills evolve over time. If you want to be able to do the stuff shown here, there's no time like the present to get the GIMP and start learning how. The price is right!

Still LIfe With Hippie Copyright 2013 SF Kinney
Still Life With Hippie by SF Kinney © 2013

Place your mouse pointer over the pictures to see the enhanced version

Photo Restoration

The most complex and challenging photo processing work is restoration of damaged images. The studio print shown here was the only baby picture a friend had of her daughter - now in her 30s - and it spent entirely too much time in a hot Florida attic. Oxidation turned it orange and red, exposure to water added a yellow stripe. It was necessary to rebuild some elements from scratch, and isolate others on masked layers for independent color correction. The resulting patchwork quilt of seperately repaired regions then had to be blended together into a single, seamless image. Online photo repair companies charge $60.00/hr and up for this kind of work.

Photo Enhancement

Casual photos with composition and environmental problems can often be saved, and nearly any digital photo can be improved. In the example shown here, it was necessary to rotate, enlarge and crop the image for improved composition, and apply light and color corrections. Once this was done, I removed a lot of visual clutter from the ceiling, walls, and floor.

Product Display

Crafters, online auction sellers, and other merchants need the best possible photos of their products for display on the Internet. Digital cameras and even cell phones make taking the pictures easy, but "professional looking" results without a professional studio setting can be difficult to obtain. Post exposure processing to the rescue: The enhanced image shown here is not so much a "tweaked" picture as a collage made up of parts taken from the original photograph. The full size version lives here

Extreme Underexposure

When a photo turns out like the one shown here, it is almost always best to discard it. But in some cases, as when no other image of the subject exists, it may be worth the trouble to try to bring the image back from the dead. In this example, layer masking, per-layer light and color adjustments, non-linear filters and a little unsharp mask produced results adequate for casual sharing via e-mail and blog posts, without taking more time and effort than the result is worth.

Real Estate Photos

Online photos often create first impression a prospective buyer gets of any property. Realtors have to make sure that the quality of their photos stands out. As illustrated by this office condo picture, correct light and color adjustments make a major difference. This kind of correction "looks easy" but layer masking is necessary to prevent the areas that are already bright enough from being washed out when the dark regions are lightened.

Correcting Light and Geometry

Sometimes natural perspective creates unnatural distortions in photographs, especially when shooting inside small interior spaces. Advanced resampling filters may be used to "stretch" a distorted image into a more realistic appearance. In the image shown here, it was also necessary to use layer masking to preserve the original appearance of the view outside the windows while lighting up the interior.