More Simple Tricks from Jacki


Jacki here, with part 3 of my keeping it simple series. If you want to refer back to my previous posts, check out:

If you’re like me, you have some old scanned photos that desperately need some repair work. When my daughter was born, a friend gave me a roll of film. I didn’t know it until I’d already taken my photos in to be processed, that it was slide film! The processor didn’t catch it either and was very apologetic. All I had of my daughter’s birth were these awful looking green photos. I cried! Fifteen years ago I didn’t have a digital camera or photo editing software so the photos stayed as they were in her photo album. With her birthday coming up, I wanted to try and repair some of those photos. There are a number of tutorials out there to walk you through the restoration process of an old photo. However, I don’t have a lot of time, nor do I have fancy editing software. I want something I can do in ten minutes or less.

From awful to useable. The photo I wanted to repair is one of my husband at the hospital holding our brand new baby girl. It was taken with slide film and was scanned a number of years ago. In addition to being green and awful, it has scratches, dust, and various unsightly little spots. Here are the steps I used:

a. Adjust the lighting levels.

b. Try auto color correct.

c. Use the magnetic lasso tool to select and “protect” part of the image.

d. Copy-paste the selected area into another layer.

e. Use color variations to adjust the background.

f. Use the burn tool to darken areas not scanned well.

g. Use the spot healing brush and cloning tool to repair spots, scratches, and unwanted distractions.

h. Merge the layers.

i. Reduce the noise of the image with despeckle.

j. Crop the photo.

The first step I normally take is to look at adjusting the lighting levels of the photo. (This was covered in simple tricks for photo editing.) Then I play with the lighting using Auto Color Correct. Oftentimes what happens is that parts of the photo look good, and parts do not. So to allow more flexibility, I “protect” part of the photo. Using the magnetic lasso tool, I select the part of the photo I want to duplicate. That way I can mess around with the background without altering the area I want to protect. (For me, the Auto Color Correct made the people look very red.)



The magnetic lasso tool attaches itself along a line of color. It’s smart enough to follow it (which just amazes me!). But you have to control it. I click often along the line I want selected. Once you complete the loop (the beginning and end of the lasso meet), it will show marching ants and your selection is ready to copy and paste into a new layer.


Now I have the freedom to play with the background without worrying about how the people look. The slide film made the photo very green so I went to Enhance>Adjust Color>Color Variations and decreased the green. Immediately the background color looks better. (You’ll notice how red the people look so it’s a good thing they’re “protected!”)


Since this photo was made digital via the use of a scanner, there are lines and splotches that need to be fixed. Using the burn tool, you can darken areas to reduce that unwanted look.


Careful not to get carried away. Thankfully you have the option of “undo!”

Next I used the spot healing brush and the cloning tool to repair unwanted little spots, scratches and other distractions.


I did the same with the layer of people, repairing unwanted spots. I also desaturated the people a bit since the coloring was a bit strong (Enhance>Adjust Color>Adjust Hue/Saturation). Once I was happy with both the background and the people in the image, I merged the two layers.

The overall image still looked grainy to me, so I used the Despeckle tool. In Photoshop Elements, go to Filter>Noise>Despeckle. You’ll notice that your image will look softer as a result. You can play with Noise, increasing or decreasing the effect.


Step back, look at your photo and if you like what you see, go ahead and crop it. Make sure to save your image under a different name so that you have both the original and the improved. Here are mine:



From awful to usable! I’m good with it and it took me less than 10 minutes. Now I can post it on my husband’s Facebook page to remind him of what we were doing 15 years ago!

Here’s another example of a photo I fixed using the same steps above. This one I’ll post on my son’s Facebook page, reminding him to hug his sister on her birthday. J



Go ahead and give it a try!

P.S. the title graphic was created with Kaye Winiecki’s Framed Affection elements kit.