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Poor quality scanned photos

Posted on 2003-10-24
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Last Modified: 2013-12-25
Hello!

I have recently returned from a trip to Europe, and just finished scanning in some pictures.  Unfortunately, there were two recurring problems with the images:
Grainy (due to poor light exposure / High ISO) http://www.student.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~ctheiss/0133.jpg
Blurry (due to camera moving while picture was being taken, or poor light exposure) http://www.student.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~ctheiss/0095.jpg

Admittedly, I'm not a very good photographer, but I'm hoping there's some way to fix these pictures digitally.  I'm using Paint Shop Pro.  Edge-preserving smooth and Sharpen are the respective solutions (AFAIK), but neither makes the pictures look really good.

What can I do to save my pictures?
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Question by:CoreyTheiss
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Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 9615792
Not much you can do to fix a REALLY bad photo but the best you can do is something like Photoshop's Unsharp Mask. For the gritty ones you might apply a SMALL gaussian blur first.
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snapdragon030500 earned 600 total points
ID: 9675580
I agree with weed - slight gaussian blur if you can get into Photoshop.  Specifically, for the crowd scene above:  then actually reducing the visual image size will reduce graininess to a certain extent.  Once the size is reduced, you can play with a slight Unsharp Mask to get some sharpness back, but it's a fine line because the grains want to come back, too.  You can get something acceptable "enough" for most of the image, then use your blur brush tool to get the graininess out of individual areas where you can't stand it.

It's a great cheat for lots of bad images - blur, reduce, unsharp mask.  But I agree with what weed said about bad photos.  All you can do is all you can do!

Basic recipe often good for Unsharp Mask at web resolution:
Amount:  150%
Radius:  .5 pixels
Threshold:  4 levels
Adjust from there.  Watch out for "glowing edges" around details.  History brush comes in very handy on details for this reason.  Can expound if you're interested.  Don't think you need it on either of these two images.

For your image of the altar with all the skulls:
I had some luck with a harsher Unsharp Mask, then lowered the res to lower the image size on screen (dubious if printing), then did another Unsharp Mask.  Looked better, but it depends on what you can live with.  It's a pretty blurry shot.  But cool.
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Author Comment

by:CoreyTheiss
ID: 9676534
Thanks :)  It doesn't look too bad, and if that's the best I can do, then I have to live with it.  Thanks for your help!
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Expert Comment

by:snapdragon030500
ID: 9682572
You're welcome.  It helps that these shots are relatively large visual size to begin with.  Gives you room to shrink them.  Too bad you can't just go back to Europe and take them again!  ;-)
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