I have a bunch of old black and white and sepia photographs from my grandparents' album that I scanned and would like to restore. The photographs are generally in good condition. there are some scratches and dust. There are tears on a couple of them. A lot of them will need a contrast adjustment. Since there are a lot of photographs I can't devote a lot of time to each of them. I am looking for a simple algorithm for restoring old photographs. Perhaps some of you have done it before and can describe the process. Perhaps you know of good articles describing the process. Any help will be appreciated.

I have access to Photoshop CS4. I am not an expert obviously, but I know my way around. I also have no problem downloading and using Gimp.


Unfortunately, anything you do that's completely automated is going to result in soft, blurry photographs. The best you can hope for, really, is something that's just barely adequate for web-display-sized images.

There are tools in Photoshop (the Healing Brush, the Clone tool, the Dust & Scratches filter in the Filters->Noise menu) that take most of the pain out of the process, but you'll need to spend time doing things manually to get anything like decent results. None of them, on its own, is adequate for everything you're going to face, and several of them only have any real meaning when applied manually.

Really, it doesn't take too very long after you've done a few to get your technique down. The Healing Brush, in particular, really speeds up the process. (If you had access to CS5, the content-aware fill would probably make it faster still.) Figure an hour or two for the first couple of images, and something more along the lines of five to ten minutes for most of them once you get your workflow down.


If you have the money, you might try hiring it out to a service like Scan Cafe. I've heard good things about them, although I've never used the service myself. I hear rumor you can get a good discount if you look on Photo Focus as well. Their prices seem reasonable, but again, it depends on if you have a budget for this kind of stuff.


Here is a good book if you decide to tackle it on your own: Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd Edition) by Katrin Eismann.

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