The second part of the process is removing dust and scratches from the photos. To remove the dust and scratches digitally, I use Photoshop. By default, the scanner software opens the TIFF photo in Photoshop. At this part of the workflow, I use Photoshop to rotate and crop only, I don’t do any dust cleaning to the photo just yet.
Then I move the photos to the correct folder and import it into my Lightroom Restoration catalogue. I keep the photos in TIFF format as the files are generally big (600 – 1200 dpi) and would not require any resolution loss if I had to use one of the plugins I have in Lightroom. Otherwise, if I were to want to open the photo up in Viveza, a plug in that is part of the Nik Collection, to work more on the colors of that photo, I would need to convert the DNG file into a TIFF file and reduce the resolution to a maximum of 600 dpi (maximum resolution Lightroom exports TIFF files).
My next step is to open the file up in Photoshop (no conversion required) and remove the dust and scratches. This is the point where it would be very beneficial to have a dedicated photo scanner that removes dust and scratches from the photos. The current technique I’m using in Photoshop to remove dust and scratches takes me between 1 to 2 hours per photo to remove the marks of dust and scratches. I use the Dust and Scratches filter and the History Brush tool to treat only the affected spots.
The image below is how the photo looked before I removed the dust and scratches.
The interesting thing about this technique I’m using to remove dust and scratches is trying to identify what is actually a dust or scratch mark on a photo. A random black dot on a light colored shirt could be a speck of dust, or it could be something that fell on the shirt prior to the photo being taken.
I’m far from being an expert on dust marks on a photo and often question myself: is this a dust mark or some color variation that adds depth and shading to the photo? I police myself a lot trying to not cover shades that are there as a result of the capture of depth by the camera.
Some “dust and scratch” marks are bigger than any of the two items could be. Some of them are actually holes in the top most layer of the photo. When these are small enough, I often use the patch tool (context aware) to fix them. I sometimes need to have two or three attempts at the same place because I was not satisfied with the result.
And below is comparing the before and after of the dust and scratches removal.
The odd white (or black) pixels have been visibly removed. However, there is a lot of color pixelization on the photo, it is not as smooth a transition between the blues as it could be. This will be handled by other steps in the workflow (a different post).
Next, we’ll talk about (printed) photo texture.
Note: I do now own the rights to the photo shown, but I do own the license to publish the photos as part of my restoration work.