A little over a year ago, when my brother and sister had closed out Mom's last apartment, I was asked if I had "dibs" on anything. I remember mentioning some of her collection of cut and art glass vases and such. And any photos that the two of them didn't want to haul off themselves. We finally struck a deal that I, with my burgeoning knowledge of Photoshop would have some of these family treasures shipped to me under the condition that I would scan and post albums on Picasa for them to download from.
We've settled on 1024 px. as the maximum dimension. I've been scanning at either 600 or 1200 ppi so as to have plenty of oversampled bits (pun intended) to discard when resizing for the final output. I've saved these large files, though none are like the kind bbd has described as part of his work output. Here's a scaled down copy of an original scan.
Before these prints were stuck into a (gasp) "magnetic" photo album (the pages are coated with a yellowish gummy goo) they were transported, passed around at holidays, fondled, put in and out of boxes and transoceanic steamer crates. Heckuva job (Kodak) Brownie. They live (sorta) to this day. Have a look at what about an hour's worth of what they used to call "airbrushing" has produced.
Now imagine a whole collection of honeymoon, baby, and travel pictures, tennis playing blancmanges (just kidding), vintage cars and street scenes. The family better be appreciative.
There is a small repertoire of moves at play here, besides the obvious crop and desaturate. In the noise filter menu is "remove dust and scratches." The crude numeric increments may be tempered with a threshold setting. Like Piet Hein's recipe for toast. To paraphrase: toast until burnt minus twenty seconds.
After removing print degradation and noise, sharpening edges was often necessary.
The "smart sharpen" filter came in very handy when my go-to "unsharp mask" yielded too many artifacts in the bright regions. Many of these prints have an overabundance of lens blur and this filter sharpens as though it were a time machine.
Also, the "clone" tool was indispensable for repair work. It lifts a snoop from here and plops it down there, but it's far more sophisticated than that. To repair those hideous paper creases, I used it in "darken" mode for light scratches on a dark background and vice versa.
Everyone has a favorite image correction and for many it is "auto levels." I like a levels adjustment layer because you can retroactively draw inside the level mask to bring out more or less of the levels you have set.
I was also able to crop a closeup from the original big file to the agreed on 1024.
It's always better to shed pixels with some computer algorithm as your friend, than to try to make it bigger.
I'm guessing this is UNRRA staff in either Geneva or Cairo sometime around 1944-45. That's Dad on the right. That I'm sure of.