I've been working on a restoration project that's proving quite a challenge. It's a sepia-toned 16 x 20 print of the gentleman who founded a fraternity at Miami University of Ohio. Time passed. The house fell into disrepair and disrepute. The photo was unglassed, and encountered the slings and arrows of beer pong, TV dinners, and probably other fluids. It was scratched and degraded.
The House was closed, and is being refurbished. My task is to bring the founder back to life.
The photos above show before-and-after details of a section of face and a section of the man's jacket. You can see others at my restoration website, but this one's kind of special.
The big challenges here are the ear, the eye, and, most of all, removing all the crud from his jacket without losing at least some of the texture of the original fabric. This requires trade-offs of various sorts. One can trade texture for smoothness. One can trade time for hand-work. See all those little white specks? If I try to take them out in bunches, the underlying texture will vanish. If I take them out one at a time, it gets expensive and drives me buggy, so I have to stop every so often.
Also, because the image is large, there are lots and lots of things to fix. When you blow the image up to the size of the "unfixed" excerpts above, you see right away how much junk there is. You don't notice this at smaller sizes, but you sure will notice it if it's a 16x20 and those spots, goobers, and hickeys aren't addressed.
The toughest part of all of this is reconstructing the ear. It's starting to look much better, but I'm not satisfied yet, so the client won't get his picture for another week or so. What makes the ear hard is that there's so little to work from
When you're doing restoration, you work from what's known to what's unknown, moving, adapting, and adjusting known bits so they take the place of the unknown bits. In the case of the ear in this picture, there's just darn little known to salvage, so I'm having to make best guesses and "paint" them in very carefully with dodge and burn tools (that's tools to lighten and darken specific parts of the image by specified amounts).
Anyway, this is making progress, and I thought you might be curious to see a bit about work as it goes.