Saving Old Slides ... With Photoshop

How to Give New Life to Your Old Photographs

by Jim Zuckerman

Most of us have thousands of slides from when we shot film, and many of those slides are poorly exposed with terrible color saturation. We hang on to those images for a variety of reasons, but the reduced picture quality always grates on our photographic nerves and we wish we could revisit the place or the situation and shoot it again.

Before - MS-8245
© Jim Zuckerman
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Recently I came across an old photo I took on the island of Crete that has always bothered me because it is too light, the contrast is too low, and the colors are to weak.

This is artwork from the Minoan culture, a civilization that flourished a thousand years before the Greeks. It is remarkable to see such great art from 1500 B.C., but my images were disappointing because my light meter was inadvertently set to the wrong ISO. I was shooting Fujichrome 50 (digital cameras hadn’t been developed at that time).

After - MS-8246
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved

Photoshop can save a lot of old slides and give them new life. I scanned the original 6x7cm (medium format) slide with an Imacon scanner, and then I worked with my favorite two commands: hue/saturation and contrast.

By increasing the saturation, the colors instantly came alive, and then with the addition of a little contrast the ancient mural was restored to what it may have looked like so long ago.

I also used one more command – color balance (all of the commands are under the pull down menu: Image > adjustments). The photo had turned too yellow, and by moving the yellow/blue slider toward the blue I eliminated the undesirable color bias.

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About Author Jim Zuckerman

Author: Jim  Zuckerman

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