Bringing Old Photos Back To Life: Picnik Test

I have a bunch (okay, 4 or 5 big photo album worth) of photos from the 1980s that are slowly fading into obscurity. The colors have washed out. They look worse than the color photos in my collection from the 1960s and 1970s!

I wanted to use a couple of the photos for an article I am writing. But, they were so washed out that they didn’t even appeal to me. I tried to fix them using the software on my computer, but nothing I did really helped.

I asked around Google+ for free photo editing software. I received a few suggestions. I thought that it might be nice to blog about them and show the results that I got.

The first one up is Picnik, a Google product.  Picnik is an online photo sharing website with editing utilities.  There is a free version and a premium paid version.  Some editing tools are available in the premium version that are not in the free version.  You upload photos to Picnic, edit them online, then save them to your computer.  You do not have to download any software.

This is the photo that I worked with.  It’s from Soda Springs, California.  I guarantee you it did not look so dreary the day I was there.

I uploaded the photo to Picnik.  The next screen shows you some of the editing options available depending on the version (free or premium)

I’m not really interested in removing the red eye or making my mountains thinner.  I ignored the suggested tools.  I played around with some of the tools under Effects, then settled on the tools under the Basic Edit tab.

First, I tried Auto Fix.  It brightened the colors a little, but didn’t really make much improvement.

I then moved on to the Color tools.   These allowed me to changed the saturation and the temperature of the colors.  This is what I ended up with:

What do you think of the results?  Is it an improvement over the original?  Too much red or brown?

I took the same photo and used the Sharpening tool.  This edit included improving the clarity.

I am not sure I really see any difference between this photo and the first edit.  The Clarity tool with the Color tool doesn’t seem to have much effect.

That’s the first photo I attempted to bring back to life with Picnik.   The tools on Picnik are fairly easy to work with.  The problem may be their are so many I wasn’t sure which ones to work with first. Did I get the results I wanted?  The color edit does appear more true to what the photo should have been.  I think that I might have to work with a couple of more photos to see if I’m getting the results I am looking for.

Have you worked with Picnik?  If so, are you pleased with the photo editing results?  Got any tips for us amateurs?

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Comments

  1. Melody, I see a lot of difference in the last photo with the “sharpness” improved.

    As far as the colors, it does look a bit red, but, not knowing the original place or coloring, that will have to be up to you to decide.

    When I edit, I usually try, auto correct (or whatever the program calls it), then, maybe brightness/contrast. Sometimes the contrast will “up” the colors and bring out the subtle stuff. Then I usually fuss with the sharpness stuff, Adobe has a sharpen edges and that seems to make the photos “pop”. I use color buttons last, moving slowly but, usually trying a combo of several. Using color buttons is where I go last, as I feel that is kinda tricky stuff.

    Go slow, go moderate. Save as. and, then try some more. There is a learning curve.

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