Photo restoration telling the good from the bad

If ever you look into having a photo restoration done, how do you know that you are going to have it done properly? You can look at the site that offers the restoration and look at their example images of “before” and “after” and surely if it looks good then that’s all there is to it. The price is right so why not go for it.

STOP! I will tell you why. Look closely at those “before” and “after” images of the so-called photo repairs. Think about what the restoration artist has done. Let us check the skill level of the restoration artist.

1. When replacing a background on a portrait. Has the background got the same tone and texture and grain as the part of the image that is left? Look carefully as there may be some telltale signs of a quick fix. Halos or smudged lines around the original subject or person. There may also be cropping of the photo repair where the artist has eased the workload and trimmed off background that they didn’t want to deal with. Did you ask for that, and do you mind?

Good background texture

Good background texture

Image showing good texture where a restoration has been carried out correctly

2. Restoring details in the background. Are there strange repeat patterns in the background? Does it look like the grass is like a repeat pattern wallpaper? Does the same bit of wood appear many times, or is that brick wall just a 10 times copy and repeated over and over to save time? Is there smudging or are there ill-defined areas where the artist has simply blotted out details?

Bad Background texture

Incorrect cloning technique

Image showing repeat patterns and bad texture where a restoration has been carried out incorrectly and with a lazy technique.

3. Does it look like it has been restored? When an image is very badly damaged, the artist will have to work hard to fix the damaged areas. Depending on the skill of the artist the image may look like it has been worked on. This will normally be where large areas of faces have been damaged or smooth tones or block colours have been divided by a tear or tape marks. However, a skilled artist will make sure that the tones and the texture match and that the photo repair does not just look like a lifeless block of colour.

Look out for these pointers when examining the work on display, if you detect any of this go somewhere else, as the skills probably aren’t there in the first place. Providing photo restorations and repairs throughout the UK