Monday, December 13, 2010
Give The Gift Of Photographic Memories—12/13/10
Turn old photos into new works of art to create meaningful, memorable gifts
8. If your photos are stored anything like my family does it, chances are they’ve got tape, scratches, tears and spots from years of handling. Photoshop offers the best tools to repair these problems, and I often find myself gravitating to the simple Spot Healing brush and the Clone Stamp tool. A clone stamp set to 50% opacity works marvelously for slowly and steadily eliminating problem marks from tricky areas of the image. Work carefully and don’t try to do too much with a single mouse click. Slow and steady definitely wins the clone-stamping race.
9. Many images benefit greatly from boosts to contrast and sharpness, so make these adjustments using the program you’re most comfortable with. I find that unsharp masking in Photoshop taken to fairly great extremes can really sharpen up old photos—particularly if they’re enlarged greatly from small originals. If you’re comfortable creating a vignette, doing so to subtle effect can really improve old photographs by driving the eye toward the center of interest, whether you’re working with studio portraits or snapshots. If nothing else, burn in dark corners and distracting highlight areas that compete for attention with the main subject.
10. With the image files ready to print, all that’s left to do is determine how to output. You could create a single enlargement of an old wallet-sized portrait. This simple effect often reveals never-before-seen details from tiny old photos, and that alone can be quite powerful. Even though such enlargements often exaggerate image flaws, the pros most often outweigh the cons.
11. Instead of a single matted and framed print, you could instead composite several images into one collage using Photoshop. Simply composite the images by working with layers. Many plug-ins and standalone programs also are available that create interesting and unique collages from digital image files. I’ve been experimenting with ShapeCollage, a freeware program that allows me to turn old photos into a collage in almost any configuration I can imagine.
12. Desktop inkjet printers work wonders for most prints. If you’re going to frame an inkjet, be sure to allow it to air dry for a day or two to help minimize the effects of outgassing that occurs once the print is put under glass. If you want to print larger than your inkjet will allow, consider a pro lab or online printing service that can not only enlarge your old photos to poster size and beyond, they can print old images onto canvas, coffee cups or any number of interesting types of media. Most can probably even print on fabric if you’re set on getting dad a necktie.
13. Don’t delay. It may not sound like tons of work, but this project is going to take a little time. To have a print framed and ready for Christmas morning you might want to start right now rather than waiting until the afternoon of the 24th. If you are running short on time, choose a single old snapshot, scan it and print it as big as your desktop printer will allow, then find a pre-cut mat and frame combo to create a gallery-ready gift. What it may lack in spectacular size or over-the-top expense it will more than make up for with fond memories that come from giving a gift straight from the heart.
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