Anatomy Of A Retouch

I got a really intriguing email a short time ago from a great guy named Ryan Baxter.
He had a fun story about ‘recreating’ an old childhood photograph with his two sisters.
They got very close to the original in their restage attempt with a few significant differences.
He emailed me the following:
Hi John, thanks for talking to me this morning. As discussed, my sisters and I re-staged an old photograph this summer while I was home in Nova Scotia. The plan is to give it to our mother as a Christmas gift. See attached files.

My idea is to digitally enhance the “new photo” to match the “old photo”. For example: border shadows, make my sister’s shirt a little more yellow, crop to match as needed. The new photo to be printed at a size greater than/equal to 8 1/2 by 11, and the old photo to be printed to typical postcard size. Then framed aesthetically pleasing.

I understand this may be an odd request. Please be honest, and let me know if I’m better off trying to do this myself, with my limited knowledge of digital photography editing and an untrained eye for photo framing. I’d also like to know a price estimate before deciding on which way to go with this project.

Ryan Baxter

I liked Ryan  right away from our phone conversation and told him the project sounded like a lot of fun.
Without PROMISING a home run, I told him I’d give it a whirl. I enjoyed the idea of the challenge.
I received a rather ‘smallish’ original in an email and the new ‘restaged’ file to work on.

With that, I was off and running.
When the job was finally completed, I emailed Ryan and Clan a list:
Hi Ryan,
This one was a bit tricky, but a lot of fun and I’m quite pleased with the result.
Here’s a list of what all got done.
On ‘Old Pic’, there’s a flash blast on the wall that falls off on the edges and it’s decidedly GREENISH.
So….first things first?
1.) Match Color and Vignette the photo to darken it around the edges and match the old film colour balance.
2.) Brighten the yellow top by re-coloring it to match the original
3.) Give your sister in the middle ‘Pink Sleeves’ and brighten the blue top to match
4.) Color YOUR shirt.
5.) The skin tones in the original are a lot pinker and paler than your recreation. I hand colored you guys and faded it out to match as closely as possible.
6.) The red in the banner is closer in the final version to the one in the original
7.) The recreated version is a bit sharper, obviously, than the original so there’s a slight bit of blur added to cut it back a pinch
8.) Changed the colour of the blue glass just a bit to match a little closer
9.) Faded the saturation down to match the aged original print.

That’s as close as I can see it getting.

Here’s the funny thing:
I thought the red banner was a lot lower in the version you guys did.
Took me a few seconds to realize that wasn’t the case at all.
You guys just ‘ growed up’.

All told, I was quite pleased with the end result.
Merry Xmas Ryan’s Mom!

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