Restoring Old Photographs

22 Feb

Well…. it’s been a while since my last post here; and although I have other things I want to post about in the near future; those things will require some real time for me to put together my facts and such.  Since I was “out of commission” (major toothache) most of last week; I have lots of research to catch up on; and less time for my blog right now.  So… I will write about something that won’t take any time for me to research; and; therefore; not a lot of time to write a little about.

In my last post, I told about how an old photo had led me to find the Choctaw ancestors of my girlfriend, Kelly.  I have been intrigued by old photos for many years; since I first began researching my own family history.  I spent  a lot of time talking to relatives; some close relatives; others relatives I didn’t even know.  In doing so; over the years, I was able to obtain hundreds of old photographs of my ancestors and their families.  I have many old pictures of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents; and even some of great-great-great grandparents.  I never get tired of looking at the old pictures.

Over the past several years, I have been able to identify many of the folks in the old pictures; whom I couldn’t previously identify.  I did much of that by comparing pictures.  In many cases, I would notice someone in a picture of a sole person; and compare with people in group pictures that I had of family.  Every now and then, I would realize the person in a picture was the same person found in other pictures.  Since I had names of folks in some of those pictures, I was then able to put a name to other pictures.  Always compare your old pictures; and study them closely.

I have also been able to identify folks in some of the old pictures by showing them to my oldest relatives.  Only recently; a cousin and I went to visit my great-aunt (sister of my grandmother); who has been in a nursing home for a couple of years.  She was able to identify some of the folks in a box of pictures that my cousin had, from her father’s belongings.  It was fun to be able to visit with my great aunt; and to share the pictures with her; bringing back many memories for her.

Although I have often done some very minor things to improve my old photos; I never really knew how to truly restore an old, faded, damaged photo.  I have seen examples of an old photo, which was torn into 4 or 5 pieces; pieced back together; and truly restored, in what appeared to be an absolute miracle.

Since I have so many old photos myself; I decided that I want to “try” to learn how to restore these photos; and really bring them back to life.  I am not talking about the simple things, such as adjusting the brightness, contrast, etc.  I want to learn how to remove the blemishes, scratches, repair tears; and everything else I can; in order to bring the photo back to its’ original beauty and glory.

Early last week, I started “googleing” (Is that a word?).  I found a link to a website that claims to be a “Photo Restoration School”.  Now… I will be the first to admit that this isn’t what most would consider a course study; or anything like that.  However; after looking over the website for a while; and thinking on it overnight; I decided to pony up the small amount of money required to enroll.  For $50 I figured I could surely learn enough to make it worthwhile.

Since I am not associated with this site; and haven’t been able to spend a lot of time on it myself yet; I certainly don’t want to sound like I am endorsing it.  But…. others may want to check it out themselves.  It is at .  You can get a free video tutorial by entering your email address in the appropriate spot on their webpage.  The free tutorial is based on a fairly simple fix for faded photos; but is certainly worth checking out.

The website seems to be based mostly on video tutorials; which guide you through the process to fix various things in a photo.  They use free photo software called “Gimp”.  Gimp is similar to Photoshop; but it is a free, open source software.  You can get the software at

The tutorials on the Photo Restoration School’s site, appear to do a pretty good job of walking your through the steps of various photo restoration processes.  I certainly think there is enough on the website for me to get my fifty dollars worth; and I am looking forward to learning all I can about restoring old photographs.

In conclusion, I am going to “attempt” to attach 2 photos to this post (If I can figure out how), to show a photo which I decided to be my first photo restoration project.  The original was some kind of painting done of my GGG Grandparents.  This was likely done around 1850.  The original was very large; and I had to photograph the original to get a copy for myself.  As you can see (hopefully), I have since cropped the image; and also made some adjustments to bring the color out.  Next, I am going to try to get the “blueish” portion (like that right above his shoulder) all above and around him and her.  It appears to me that the background behind them, was originally that color; and age has probably washed away the blue background.  After I get that done, I will begin to work on restoring the bottom portion of the picture, to remove all of the aged stains there.



Here’s to hoping I can restore my GGG grandparents; and many more.

If anyone else happens to decide to try this also; please be sure to let me know, so that we can share ideas, and anything else we learn.

Hope everyone has a great day!

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in General Genealogy


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