Baby Steps



I would categorize the original condition

of this photo as severely damaged. Joyce told me this is a picture of her daughter, standing for the first time. This was an irreplaceable gem. And, yet, thanks to modern technology, missing parts, at least, are replaceable!

Many years ago, this picture hung, framed, on a wall of Joyce’s home when a fire broke out and badly spoiled the photo. The flames ate away an entire portion of the photograph including the baby’s feet, and left an ugly mark across her head. Thankfully, that mark was on her forehead, not across her facial features. In this case, this unsightly stain wasn’t difficult or time consuming to repair.

The challenge, of course, was the feet. It was a matter of totally rebuilding that part of the portrait! I needed another picture of the shoe with that point of view from which to take the heel, but Joyce had no other photo showing the shoes. So, I went to the Internet. I found an image of a flat-heeled shoe1964-shoe that I could download, to use for the back half of the shoes. The front half of one shoe was intact.

Working first with only one foot, I blended the two shoe parts together, adjusting sizes to match. I needed to pair the colors, too: The hue of black on the “Internet shoe” was true black; the shade of “black” of the baby’s shoe was brownish because the photo was in sepia tone. I also needed to add “luster” on the heel because the baby’s shoes were patten leather, and the “Web shoe” was not.

Then I copied the surviving part of the ruffled sock and flipped it horizontally to blend with the back part of the sock, stretching it around, and altering the shadow, to look more normal. Once I got one foot finished, I copied the entire foot and part of the leg to make the other foot. I changed the perspective of the copied foot so it turned a little differently to look natural. Then touch-ups were required: lightening and darkening areas…fixing “the way the light hit it,” making “shadow” under her feet on the carpet, etc. as appropriate.

The background was a mess! Too blemished to try to renew—with spots, cracks, and smudges galore—and was plain, anyway. I thought the best remedy was simply to cut out the baby and put her on a new background. What was left of the carpet was not good, either. Thank goodness for the Web! I found a carpet swatch to download. carpet-swatch But it needed some tweaking, too, so it wouldn’t look like a carpet swatch!

Now, the hard parts were done! Hallelujah! The baby was whole again! …and on a clean, fresh background. To finish it out, I just needed to fix that brown streak on her head and go over the whole image meticulously, enlarged, to catch all those spots and blotches that came on it with age.

Voila! Finished product!

This one required a lot of work: finding supplemental images, reconstructing the feet, fastidiously cutting out the baby, reworking the two background components and removing blemishes. Renewing this image which needed much reconstruction and cleaning up had a price tag of $165.

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