Rescuing an Important Photo

by Charlie Miller

One scenario where I still regularly make trips from Aperture to Photoshop is when I need to use Photoshop’s Healing Brush tool. Aperture’s Spot and Patch tool does a fine job of removing unwanted dust and imperfections from photographs, but it’s designed to be used on contained spots, and it doesn’t work well for long or irregularly-shaped imperfections like stray hairs.

I was recently given a scan of this photograph of my grandmother as a little girl in 1917. The photo was in pretty bad shape, with deep cracks across much of the image, however luckily there were no cracks across her face. I imported the photo into Aperture so that I could manage it with the rest of my photo library, but I knew that working with this photo would mean spending most of my time in Photoshop. And that’s fine with me. Sometimes working with Aperture means using Aperture’s organization and management tools, and doing my retouching somewhere else.

The original scan of Grandma in 1917

Photoshop’s Healing Brush tool is pretty amazing. It lets you correct imperfections by painting with sampled pixels from your photo, also matching the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sampled pixels. As a result, the repaired pixels blend seamlessly into the rest of the image. I created a new layer and used the Healing Brush extensively to remove the cracks and repair dust spots and scratches. I also cropped the photo, and created a few adjustment layers to improve the contrast and brightness.

The layers created for retouching

The retouching is still a work-in-progress. And because Aperture works round-trip with Photoshop, I can always come back to the photo in Aperture, and choose Open with External Editor to go back into Photoshop — my layers and adjustments will always be intact. I’m pretty pleased with how this photograph is shaping up; and I’m glad to be using Aperture so fluidly with Photoshop. Below is the original scan and the current working version of the repaired image.



Giulio Cesare Solaroli
2007-11-19 02:26:21
I would love to see a non destructive image editor (NakedLight - being the first example) integrated into Aperture in order to have a full image editor available to edit Aperture versions without having to duplicate master files like the current round-trip technique does.
2007-11-19 06:36:54
Giulio, I agree that NakedLight is intriguing. Apple had good success with nodal-based compositing for video with Shake; it would be pretty cool to see them develop something similar for photographs.
2007-11-19 10:04:20
great job on this!