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Magic Touch Ups
4/1/2004
Become an image-editing wizard! You can restore old family photos in a flash — just learn these easy software tricks to make your pictures' imperfections disappear.
How are your old family photos holding up? If you're like most family historians, you probably have pictures that are torn, taped, scratched, dirty, dusty, faded or almost indistinguishable. Wish you could wave a magic wand and make those imperfections vanish, so your old photos look new again?

You can — with the magic of digital imaging. A few mouse clicks can restore your treasured pictures to near-original condition. And retouching photos digitally is surprisingly simple: All you need is an image-editing program — such as Adobe Photoshop Elements <www.adobe.com/products/photoshopel>, Jasc Paint Shop Pro <www.jasc.com/products/paintshoppro> or Ulead PhotoImpact <www.ulead.com/pi> — and a little practice. Restoring badly damaged pictures does take some effort, hut the photo fix-it techniques are straightforward enough for family history buffs to master.

Of course, you'll first need to put damaged photos into electronic form, using either your scanner or a digital camera. Those electronic images are your master copies. You should always work from copies of those original digital files — especially when you don't have access to the original photograph. Once you get engrossed in retouching, it's easy to make a mistake and accidentally save it over your only good file. By working on copies, you can practice your retouching skills without risk to your irreplaceable originals. In fact, you can start over, back up and adjust your efforts as often as von need to. Get in the habit of zooming in on problem areas of the image, too. Whatever the defect, it's usually easier to work on a big image.

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