Brighten An Old Photo 3/3

File0050Happy Days 1966This is the third and final part of the guide on editing an old photo for use in a blog, using Photoscape photo-editing software.  For part1 or part2 click those links.  This final part covers from the cropped and saved image of part 2 to the ready to upload image.

Before detailing the many changes and improvements that can be made I will first explain how to use the Save function.  You may wish to use that several times as you make changes to the image, or you can choose to edit until finished and make a single save.  If you want to try these save options, you will need to load an image as detailed in part 2, using the Editor part of Photoscape and browsing for the file you wish to work with.

Save options

The Save options screen appears when you click the Save button.  First I will explain the tick box options in the lower part of that Save menu screen.  They impact on the use of the three types of save that can be used.  If unaltered these options will remain as the default settings.  Once changed they will remain constant until you choose to change them again.  You only really need to consider them once, unless the way you use Photoscape changes.  There are four options the first two ticked by default, the second two unticked by default.  Personally I leave the default settings, but you may find it helpful to at least be aware of what they do.

The first option relates to creating an auto backup of an original file.  If this is ticked, it seems to function for the crop save too, meaning that whenever you save an amended version of a photo the original file is safely stored for recovery, which is helpful if you make an error or are unhappy with the newer saved image.  The original can be found in the folder you save to, in a sub-folder named originals.

The second option is Maintain the Exif Information.  For a scanned image this is not important, but for a digital image from a camera or other device, EXIF data lists all kinds of useful information to do with the camera settings at the time the  image was taken, plus time, date, etc.  If you plan to regularly work with digital camera images you may want to leave this ticked, as otherwise any digital image edited will be stripped of all EXIF data when the file is saved.  The original will be unaltered, but the newly saved image will have no EXIF data.  A scanned image has no EXIF data to begin with, so this setting has no effect on scanned images.

The third option is Preserve File Date.  Tick the box if you want to preserve the original file date. A save is then recorded as a modification of the file, with the creation date kept as the original date.  For most people that is not important so can be left unticked.

The fourth option – DPI  is not ticked by default and the quality of the saved image is defined by a choice that comes up later.  If ticked it allows the DPI (quality) to be set.  Generally not important for most users, but possibly helpful to some more advanced users.

Save – three choices.

The first choice will just Save the edited photo replacing the file you are currently editing, with the photo as it is now.  If this option is not available it means that you have not made a change yet.  When you click this or the other two Save choices another box appears to set the quality of the image being saved.  100% is the best choice as otherwise the photo will reduce in quality with each save and appear very poor.

The second choice is to Save in a designated folder.  That option allows you to choose a folder from the browse button next that function button and find a folder to send the file to.  It works a bit like the send to facility in Windows, allowing you to save the edited image to a specific folder, not the original folder you opened it from.  The default designated folder, is C:\output\  once changed the new folder chosen will be displayed so you can see where you are sending the saved file too.

The third option is Save As.  That allows a new file name and folder to be chosen.  If you choose to do that the file name below the photo in the main Photoscape editor window will change, as the current image file name is always shown there.  If you later make another Save, using the first Save option it will overwrite the current file name and folder, not the original image you started out with earlier in the process.

You can choose any of the Save types at any stage in the editing process.  It is probably best to keep the number of different files you create to a minimum, but sometimes it is helpful to have saved files of different stages in the editing process, so long as you can keep track of what stage they are and remember where each is saved and what file name you gave them.  Also bear in mind that once you save the Undo and Undo All buttons will still be available, but you will have to save again for the change to be saved to a file, rather than just on the screen.

Photo Editing

Sharpen  (1-2 mins)

This is a helpful effect to make an old scanned photo just a little sharper, just a little more like a modern digital image.  It is not a cure for an out of focus photo or a poor quality scan, but it will slightly crisp an image, which generally makes it look better.  The only way to judge if it works for the image you are working with is to try it.    Choose the down pointer on the right edge of the Sharpen button.  The Sharpen button itself brings up a more detailed settings option, best for when you are more experienced with the software.

From the list of numbers displayed, 1-13, just click on one, for the strength of sharpening you require.  10 is often a good option, but you may want to try just 4 or 5 and add a bit more once you see what the effect looks like.  It may seem quite subtle at first, but be cautious with over using sharpen as it can soon have unwanted effects, sometimes introducing or highlighting white flecks all over the photo.  There is a cure for that using a range of tools available in Photoscape, which I will cover soon in a separate article as it too much information for now.

Colour Adjustments (1 min – as much time as you have!!)

This is the part when you can easily get absorbed in experimenting with the many possible results that can be achieved using Photoscape.  You may be someone who just wants to quickly make a few changes and and upload your photo, or you may find that you enjoy experimenting with the range of changes that are possible, if you have the time.

There are Auto Level and Auto Contrast options, but I am never that pleased with the results from those, although you can experiment and see what you think.  I prefer to use the drop down menu from the side of the Bright, Color button.  From that menu the first four options will be the most useful for first experimentation.  Simply choose from Contrast Enhancement, Deepen, Brighten and Darken.  You only need to point at the choice to see a range of further choices, low, middle and high, for the range of the effect.

Also from that drop down menu there is a White Balance option, to set the white balance by pointing at the whitest area of the photo.  Sometime that will be helpful.  A similar function, Remove Color Cast, allows the removal of all or some of the influence of one colour.  That is helpful if a photo has turned out badly emphasising one colour above the others.  Lower on the list are Sepia and Grayscale options, to turn you photo sepia toned or black & white, which can be interesting sometimes, even making a relatively modern image appear Victorian.

The Bright, Color button can also be directly clicked to bring up a whole array of sliders for a range of colour, brightness and contrast adjustments.  With the preview option ticked in the bottom right of that pop-up box, you can see the effect before accepting and applying the adjustment.  There is no way to explain them, you can only really learn about them by trying them.  Bear in mind, that you have the undo and undo all buttons to call on and that any effect you apply is built upon by the next effect.

The Brighten option is helpful if the photo is a little dull and the Deepen option helpful if a little pale. Just experiment till you are satisfied with the results. This is the part where serious time loss may occur as you become absorbed in the experimentation, or if this is not really for you seriously bored with the whole idea.

The Backlight can also add a brightening tone to some photos, but I did not use it on the photo of the snowman.  Backlight can be chosen in various levels from the drop down side menu.

Bloom adds some brightness and colour enhancement, as well as a softening of focus.  Bloom can be added from the drop down menu, with three choices, but the Bloom button allows a whole range of adjustments of the effect, which you may want to set before you use the drop down menu choices.  Those settings are very extensive, allowing a whole range of adjustment and refinement to the Bloom effect, including the area covered and as well as the blur level, brightness, etc.  The Bloom menu box included a preview of the effect on the image to help you adjust it until just right.  If you tick the box – Set the area for bloom then you can adjust the size of the area covered from a very small area to the whole photo.  If you reduce the Feather setting to 0% it helps to highlight the edge for the area covered, just reset it to 50-100% to allow the bloom effect to softly blend in on the photo.


Well I hope this guide had been helpful to anyone not previously aware of how an old photo could be reused in the digital age.  If you knew most of this I hope that you found something new or helpful too and I hope you enjoy adjusting and enhancing many images in the future.  You may find, as I have, that they bring back many memories too, all the better when the photo looks more modern and fresh rather than like some old forgotten relic from the past.

There are many more features and functions in Photoscape, including filters, which can create many art effects and digital effects too.  Antique photo effects can also reverse the whole process I have described and take a modern photo and make it appear old, with just a few clicks.  There are repair tools, to remove red-eye and moles or other blemishes, as well as colour matching and repair tools.  The Object menu also allows the introduction of lines, drawings, colours and text, which can be used to edit an image by adding to it.  The more you explore Photoscape functions the more possibilities come to mind!


4 comments on “Brighten An Old Photo 3/3

    • Glad to help you get started. It may be a little bit trial and error at first, but as you experiment the results can be quite rewarding. There is something special about seeing a vaguely remembered relative or an almost forgotten location suddenly brought to life on your computer screen. Hope you have fun. 🙂

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