Oh Baby

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Blog, Image Editing

So you stored your childrens’ portraits thinking they were safe. Years later you discover the storage area roof is leaking. Those pesky mold critters have found a new home on your cute little boy. You try to clean it but only make it worse leaving white spots instead of black. No negatives to reprint. The photographer has retired to Florida and tossed them when he left town. You’ve got insurance money, but now what? Lightstream to the rescue.


First things first. Removing the frame I notice a protected edge that shows the original print had a pure white background (maybe there was smoking going on in the past, or maybe it’s simply general aging).

I’ll photograph the print taking care not to introduce any reflection or glare from lights. I also need to be accurate with exposure so as not to lose any definition. This image has a significant amount of white with very little tone to define shape. Notice the block near his feet and the top of his cap blending off into oblivion.

So now I have a digital file that can be edited in Photoshop. First I isolate the baby from all the white, including his clothing, the blocks and background. I can adjust the contrast and color in the baby. Reversing the selection I can remove the yellowing. This way I can work on the white areas to maintain detail without it affecting the babe’s features.

Now I can carefully remove the mold and blotches, paying attention to what the texture should be where I am working. The baby’s skin will be treated differently than his clothes, and the clothes will be different from the background. The image was finally printed to the original size, 16 x 20 and installed in the original frame.

Much of this will be hard to appreciate viewing on the computer. As a matter of fact, there shouldn’t be any appreciation of my work when viewing the final print. It should be about the subject and not about techniques and wizardry.