Restoring Old Photos with Windows Live Photo Gallery

March 11, 2011, By Christian Cawley

As you should have been able to judge from our previous tutorials on Windows Live Photo Gallery, this is a powerful and versatile tool that can be used for many different purposes, from basic management and indexing of your photos to adjusting and repairing them.

Either task can take as long as you want it to – you might like to use the Auto adjust button to repair images or spend longer going through them an element at a time, while managing and indexing images can be a case of quickly tagging key personnel in your photos or you might prefer to perform a bulk tagging exercise.

Taking your time can yield particular benefits however, particularly when it comes to restoring old photographs.

Here you can see the improvements I’ve made to an old photo of myself from about 1979. As the original had become slightly torn and creased, it was among several old snaps that I opted to scan in order to “clean up”.

Restoring old photos with WIndows Live Photo Gallery

Cleaning Up Old Photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery

With the photo scanned and added to your library, you can begin the task of repairing the snap. There are a couple of things to bear in mind here. Firstly, this is rarely a quick task and the Auto adjust button might not make much of it until after you’ve fixed any faults.

Secondly, studio-photographed images such as this will rarely look better after the application of any effect other than black and white, which is why I have omitted to use such an effect on this particular photo. Also by making this richly coloured photo black and white it suddenly looks like it was taken in 1969…

As you can see in the image above, there is particularly prominent tear in the upper-right region of the photograph. Using the Retouch tool this can be removed by dragging a box around the affected area – this tool effectively blends the fault away into the background, as if it was never there at all.

If you’re having trouble getting the area right on the retouch you might use your mouse roller to zoom in, or use the zoom tool in the lower-right corner of the application window. Whilst zoomed in you will probably notice many other creases, light scratches and even bits of dust from the scanner that you want to get rid of. Take your time with all retouches, and remember that you can press CTRL+Z to undo or use the Revert to original button.

Crop Your Repaired Photo

Often older photographs have thick white borders that are useful for keeping greasy finger prints off the main picture. However the result of this is that the borders get a little dirty themselves so you might opt to crop these out of your digital copy while repairing the other aspects of the photo.

You can easily do this in Windows Live Photo Gallery with the Crop tool; simply drag the border of the crop grid to the edges of the picture, leaving the white border of the photograph outside the crop grid, then go to Crop > Apply Crop.

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