Lynne was cleaning up some things and came upon this old print. It’s a shot I took most likely in 1976 using my helmet-mounted Canon AE-1. This was one of my more successful freefall photos. The good freefall photographers used a Newton sight which allowed them to aim the camera (aim their head, really). Poor college students just guessed. Lots of shots didn’t quite look the way you wanted.

This was way before autofocus, too, so the name of the game was to guess about the distance you’d mainly be shooting and use a small aperture to provide a large depth of field. The poor college student also couldn’t afford lenses, so this was shot with the standard 50mm f/1.8 lens that came with the camera. Today, we’d call it the kit lens. And all those bad shots? This was film so I could shoot 36 shots at most and had to pay to develop the film. I developed my own Ektachrome slides, but this print looks to me like a Kodacolor print. There’s a stamp on the back to show it was printed by Kodak.

I scanned it last night, and this evening I loaded it into Photoshop and did a bit of cleaning. The print is actually not too bad for the most part, but there was a fold across it that produced a line of discoloration on the scanned image. I cleaned that with a combination of the good-old clone stamp tool but also used some of the content-aware healing brush. Photoshop CS5 was announced today, so I can now say that content-aware fill and healing brush are part of the new version.

The content-aware feature is nice, but like all these automatic do-hickeys, it’s not a panacea. The clone stamp tool still has a place.

I finished it off with a bit of color correction using curves, a tiny bit of levels tweaking, and some additional vibrance. It looks better than the original and better than I remember the original ever looking – even 34 years ago. I love the digital darkroom!