How to use Photoshop Elements to remove dust and scratch marks from your old photographs
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh, ePHOTOzine
We all have an old photo or two at the back of a draw or in an old family album. Often these photos will not have weathered well over the years and may look like this - brown and stained, with marks and faded patches. Some will also have crease and rips. In this tutorial we'll show you how to use Photoshop Element's Dust and Scratch filter to help remove the unwanted marks.
You'll find the Dust & Scratches filter by going to the Elements menu strip across the top and clicking on Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches.
This brings up a window with two slider controls one for Radius and one for Threshold and a preview window. If you only adjust the Radius slider you'll see the effect of the filter making the photo look odd. The dust goes but the edge detail do to making the picture look like it's smudged.
If you then adjust the Threshold you'll see the detail come back. But take the setting too far and areas will become blotchy.
The idea is to adjust both sliders until the dust is removed but the sharpness and edge detail remain. The amount you set depends on the resolution of your picture.
When you are happy with the filter click okay and it will be applied to your original.
You may find that the smaller blobs and dust marks have been effectively removed but some of the more predominant marks cannot be diffused without affecting the whole photo. If so draw rough selection around a problem area using the Lasso.
Feather the edge of the selection so the filter won't look obvious (Select> Feather or Alt+Ctrl+D) and bring up the Dust & Scratches filter again.
Again take care. With a plain area you'd think it wouldn't matter how much softness you apply but too much will remove the natural grain in the photo and will make the area look like a soft patch.
Adjust both sliders until the marks are removed but there's enough grain left to ensure the adjusted patch blends with the rest of the photo.
Work around the various problem areas with the above technique and save after each part of the treatment. I then decided to crop off the tatty border and make a new one by extending the canvas equally around the photo.
I also created a drop shadow to make the photo look as though it's lifted off the page and removed the colour by going to Shift+Ctrl+U. I then added a small amount of sepia using the Hue/Saturation option and increased contrast using Levels.