I was given this old and very faded photograph and asked if anything might be retrieved from it. I thought it possible but knew that it would not be a great final image. The original print was, I believe, shot during the winter in the Swiss Alps giving that white, washed-out background which is devoid of detail particularly in the original print. It was also quite small at 12 x 8 cms (4.5 x 3 inches) so this was going to be an uphill battle; or so I thought.
The photograph was scanned to A4 size as an RGB file so that I could see better what information was available.
Amazingly, just the simple act of scanning the image has brought out a wealth of detail that could not be seen in the original print. As can be seen the original was very red as the other dyes had faded in the light over the years. Given the problems with the lack of colour information I decided that it would be best to restore it as a black and white image. The first thing to do was to have a look at the colour channels. There was little useable information in either the Red or the Blue channels but the Green channel looked very promising.
Next, I ‘spotted’ the image in Photoshop to remove dust marks and any blemishes.
With the Green Channel active, I copied it then opened a new Photoshop document and pasted the, now, greyscale image into it. Levels and Curves were adjusted to taste then a merged copy was placed at the top of the Layer stack and its Blending mode changed to ‘multiply’. This had the effect of making the face more pleasing by bringing out more shadow detail but it also darkened the shirt so a layer mask was added and a black to white gradient applied to leave the detail in the face but bring the shirt tone back to where it had been.
The result is far from perfect but then it was never going to be given the level of deterioration of the original.