Today's picture has some common issues that we run into with old photographs: color distortion, tears, and wrinkles.
This photo was stored in a photo album in a plastic sleeve, which seems like one of the best ways to store a photograph. It is. And it isn't. There were a few things that went sideways in this case. First, the photo album was made out of a polyvinyl plastic, which gives off a gas that can discolor photographs. Second, the plastic sleeve was stiff and inflexible, though it probably wasn't so when purchased, and the photo didn't fit in it properly. Over the years, extra heat in the storage area and simply the effects of time caused the plastic to stiffen, off-gas, and cause yellowing.  Acording to the American Institute for Collections, the worst things for your photographs sums up as: acids, gases, heat, and moisture.  In future articles, I will go into more depth about the best and worst practices for storing photographs.
The objective for this photo is to return the colors to their original glory, fix the damage from the tears and wrinkles as well as the uneven scissor line that cuts off the bottom edge of the photo. What I don't want to do: change the feel of the photo or make it look repaired. I don't want this photo to feel as if it was just taken yesterday, because it wasn't. It has its own feel, color values, and lighting effects that reflect the era and film characteristics of its time. Repairs to the damage should disappear into the photo, as if they never existed. If you have ever seen a photo where it's obvious that someone "photoshopped" it, then you know what I'm talking about: the colors are flat, almost like someone took one color of paint and daubed it over the boo-boo, and edges are distinct, as if they were cut out with scissors and glued on. No. No. No.
I also want the pixel count to be large enough that reprints can be made in larger sizes with little to no degradation. For that, I need to start with a large file size. For those who are unsure what pixel count is, the higher the pixel number, the clearer the image is for enlargements, the greater the color range, and the more detail in the highlights and shadows. If your digital image starts with a low pixel count, you can't add pixels to improve the quality, so it is best to start with a lot of pixels and down-size from there, as needed.
The work on this photo was actually pretty straight forward, so even though there were several objectives, they didn't take a lot of time to accomplish. Most of the time was given to repairing the damage to make sure that it is seamless. With that, it took approximately an hour to turn the starting photo into the one below.