Rounding out the newly added features in the new Windows Live Photo Gallery is the Retouch tool. This provides an amazingly easy and effective way for removing blemishes, marks and similar small defects. This is particularly useful for doing minor retouching on scanned old prints that might have picked up spots and scratches over time.
Let me start with a quick demonstration. I a have a nice photo of a fern. There are two flaws that detract artistically from this image: A little, white bug crawled into view (at the bottom), and one little leaflet sticks out at an odd angle.
Clicking Retouch turns the pointer into the “precision select” cross which works like any area selection. You simply select the area with the flaw. Photo Gallery takes a few moments and the flaw is gone. What really happened is that Photo Gallery found an area the resembles the flawed place and patches it in, smoothing out any edges. It did a pretty acceptable job on the first try. Debugging software should be this easy!
The little wayward leaf was in fact larger than the maximum area that can be selected with the Retouch tool. So I did it in sections. See the four clips below. The first one shows the leaf with the selected area at maximum width. It clipped the end and pasted in a fitting stub. Several selects later the leaf was gone (rightmost panel). As you can see the remaining leaf on the right looks nice and clean.
Of course, a retouching tool will be used primarily for retouching, removing minor imperfections. Here is an old photo of a World War 2 soldier. The photo had flaws and spots. Apparently the original negative had been damaged and the photographer did some retouching. It was quite common fifty and more years ago, to use a “stippling” technique for retouching. In the small, original print this is hardly noticeable. I used the Photo Gallery Retouch tool to restore this photo. Again, larger areas may require several attempts. Occasionally, Photo Gallery will grab a similar area that does not really do it. In the soldier photo it placed a nice matching area that also contained a button! When you repeat on the same spot, Photo Gallery recognizes that you did not like what it placed there the first time, and gets a matching area from somewhere else. One instance when doing the same thing over is not insanity! This photo was retouched in just a few minutes. Here are just the before and after pictures of the soldier photo:
Note the many places that spots were removed, the scratch on the sleeve at the right bottom, and the “stippled” area. I also used the other editing tools to correct for the fading of the photo.
One more pair showing off the Photo Gallery retouch tool capability. Here is a picture of another leaf, this one with a shadow across. Multiple retouch selections later, the shadow is gone and Photo Gallery filled in the texture of the leaf structure beautifully.
The new tools in Photo Gallery really make this into a very effective, yet easy to use, all-purpose image management and editing program. But what is more, it makes you, the user, more productive!