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T Paul 08-09-2014 10:06 AM

Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
This contest is a bit different from our previous contests. The provided link is to a single image of multiple grayscale images. One image is the red channel, one is the blue channel, and one is the green channel. There are various ways of combining them to make a color image.

My approach would be to first create each grayscale image as its own layer and lower the opacity to make sure that they all line up (using the difference mode may also be helpful). Once you have the images lined up, I would crop the overall image to remove the extra areas. Next you will need to create each layer as its own individual grayscale image—same pixel dimensions. Remember that the new images must be flattened (have no layers). Then combine the multiple grayscale images as channels into a final single image. The result will be a color image.

Once you have your color image, then you will need retouch it as necessary to complete the color restoration.

Source Image: Woodcutters on the Svir River. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Note you only need to download ONE of the files. The files are of the same image, just in different file formats for ease in downloading.

Click here to download TIF version (33.6mb)

Click here to download JPEG version (196kb)

If you are having trouble downloading the links try right-clicking on the above links and selecting save file or download linked file.

New to the contests? Please review the FAQs

Prize: "Winner's Choice" of any two RetouchPRO LIVE Video Rentals!

How Do I Merge Channels? - From


Multiple grayscale images can be combined as the channels of a single image. The images you want to merge must be in grayscale mode, be flattened (have no layers), have the same pixel dimensions, and be open. The number of grayscale images you have open determines the color modes available when merging channels. For example, if you have three images open, you can merge them into an RGB image; if you have four images open, they can become a CMYK image.

1. Open the grayscale images containing the channels you want to merge, and make one of the images active. 

You must have more than one image open for the Merge Channels option to be available.

2. Choose Merge Channels from the Channels panel menu. 

3. For Mode, choose the color mode you want to create. The number of channels appropriate for the mode appears in the Channels text box. 

4. If necessary, enter a number in the Channels text box. 

If you enter a number that is incompatible with the selected mode, Multichannel mode is automatically selected. This creates a multichannel image with two or more channels.

5. Click OK. 

6. For each channel, make sure the image you want is open. If you change your mind about the image type, click Mode to return to the Merge Channels dialog box. 

7. If you are merging channels into a multichannel image, click Next, and select the remaining channels. 


All channels of a multichannel image are alpha channels or spot channels.

When you have finished selecting channels, click OK. 

The selected channels are merged into a new image of the specified type, and the original images are closed without any changes. The new image appears in an untitled window. 


You cannot split and recombine (merge) an image with spot color channels. The spot color channel will be added as an alpha channel.

1. Contest will run from 9 Aug to 21 Sep 2014. Deadline for entries is 6pm (U.S. Central Time).

2. I will not answer questions concerning the rules. Interpretation of the rules is as important as execution.

3. Tasks:
  • Combine the provided grayscale images into a single (one frame) color image.
  • Retouch the resulting color image as necessary to complete the restoration into a quality color image.

4. When you submit your entry, put your username in the filename (ie: tpaul.jpg). This is so users can save the images to a local directory and remember who did what--important when it comes time to vote.

5. Post your entries to this thread. Links will not be accepted. Please restrict your comments, questions or discussion to the Contest Discussion thread. Inappropriately placed posts will be deleted.

6. Only one entry per person. You can change your entry up to the deadline.

7. Voting will run from 22 to 28 Sep 2014. Only those with entries may vote.

8. Voting:
  • Submit the 5 best entries (by artist name) in order, starting with your favorite.
  • You cannot vote for your own image.
  • Once you have voted, do not change your votes. The votes are tallied as they come in so any changes in the votes may not be reflected in the final results.

Finally, please remember that this is a friendly contest and suppose to be a learning experience. Tips and suggestions to help others are highly encouraged. Also please don’t limit your comments to just the top 5 when you vote. Most members are eager for feedback about their images, so remember to help each other out.

Foghorn002 08-12-2014 10:33 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
This is where I got to after a quick couple of hours. I realise the it requires a little more attention with colour work and cleaning up, although not sure if I will have any free time.
Any feedback would be much appreciated.


hthampton 08-13-2014 02:50 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Whew, that was interesting! Hope you like this version!

tchas1949 08-13-2014 05:13 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
After cropping the three versions to different files, I copied and pasted to a single file. I hid one of the upper copies, turned the other down to 50% opacity, and aligned with the bottom layer. Then I switched other layer on, the first copy off, and aligned with 50% opacity again. Set the both upper layers to 100%, chose a selection that avoided the black frame (and some trash) in each image, then cropped. Each layer was copied and pasted to a new open file, and flattened. I adjusted levels on each one to visual consistency. I chose one to set to multichannel, pasted in copies of the others as new channels, then converted the mode to RGB. (And Got Lucky! Not sure if Photoshop analyzed to see which was red, green, or blue, but it came out fairly well. I was expecting to go through trial and error to get the right combination.) I used Topaz Clarity and iCorrect EditLab Pro to adjust hue, saturation, and tone. There were areas with color problems in the trees and on the right. I selected the dark tones of the trees and replaced the color with a foliage yellow-green, then decreased the saturation so it wasn't as obvious. On the right, I borrowed color from the left to recolor the right, though it wasn't as successful as I hoped. Final run through iCorrect and save.

xgi93 08-13-2014 06:43 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
I've never tried merging channels before, so I was interested in how it's done. I followed the instructions posted above (from and Moderator T Paul) and was pleasantly surprised. What's here is what popped out after OK'ing the Merge Channels dialog box, and I tweaked the Color Balance a tad just to see what would happen. The 3 images seemed to have aligned pretty well and the color balance isn't too weird. I can see why you have a pretty long contest period--there's one heck of a lot of retouch/restore work to do on this after one finally gets the color right, and I haven't yet. The question is, am I at least in the ballpark regarding the nuts & bolts of producing the image itself? Comments and criticism welcome.

rambaldi92 08-13-2014 09:05 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Here's my take. Would have loved to do more retouching but I'm afraid I can't stop.

venanzio 08-14-2014 12:26 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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My first cut at it. a very interesting problem

Tsykhra 08-14-2014 01:21 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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My version
I've decided not to remove sun's yellow cast completly


Far from perfect buy perfection takes hours )

edgework 08-14-2014 08:49 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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Fun stuff.

Edit: color move.

kuasar 08-14-2014 11:40 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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It is my first time in a contest here ^.^ I found it really interesting and even wrote an entry on the steps taken to achieve my result. You can read it and see intermediate screenshots over here:

First of all I found that channel red was overexposed, so I corrected levels on each of them before starting with anything else.

I did not only align the channel layers, I also dealt with the chromatic aberrations due to the fact that the guy in the middle moved (and white shirt plus faces from other two boys) and cleaned the artifacts from the image as if restoring an old photograph, only that because it was being kept in different channels weathering affected them differently so this had to be dealt with three times, one for each layer separately.

Finally I applied some good ol' frequency separation technique to sharpen the focus and blur any disturbing details.

I could really go on a little longer... but I guess I'd rather go out for a coffee... so here it is! :). And by the way, feedback is greatly appreciated.


Swaped (because these are negatives and the original picture would've probably been taken like this):

justanartist 08-14-2014 03:15 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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Not sure if this worked? Thanks for any help!

~JeNsEn~ 08-14-2014 08:29 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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This is my try. Thank you.

philipwarner2000 08-15-2014 04:32 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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Here is my entry into the contest.

If you have any questions regarding my entry please let me know.

To everyone, good luck!

Philip Warner

Mr_G 08-15-2014 08:00 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Hi Guys
Here is my take of this image...Let me know what you think!
First time submitting as well!!

malco555 08-16-2014 08:15 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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Here's my attempt. It took me around an hour and a half. Good fun, especially trying to get the alignment on the faces. Those guys obviously couldn't keep totally still for three separate long exposures!

Hollyvd 08-18-2014 09:48 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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Hello All,

This is my attempt on this merry go round!, took maybe about 3 hours but on and off when I should have been working but this was more fun!

Any comments tips always gratefully received.

Thanks Holly

AnthonyLucas 08-18-2014 02:16 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Hi Everyone,

Here is my first contest entry.
This was really fun to do and look forward to your comments.


Nasturtium 08-19-2014 04:52 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
I found this a really intriguing exercise

Cupcake 08-19-2014 07:13 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Here is my try :)

philbach 08-21-2014 04:49 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Here is my version

a1cbear 08-22-2014 01:05 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Here's my shot at it... my biggest challenge was with the Red and Green Channel.

Also the initial Layer Alignment was fun to get correct as well - thank God for PS's Rulers and Guides.

vincent prior 08-26-2014 08:20 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
cropped all 3 photos to 7x5.
cleaned up rubbish in all 3 photos.
did levels adjustment on all 3 photos.
merged them together to make an RGB photo.
lined up channels.
did a hue/sat adjustment layer on yellows ,greens, blues, and magenta
to enhance the color's.
then a vibrance adjustment layer to tone down the colors as they were to
bright for a photo of this age ?.
levels adjustment layer to brighten up the sky and trees filling with black
then painting back in with varying % of grey .
selective color adjustment layer to paint out the red color aberration around the men's body's and faces.
selected a color in each of the men's clothes then painted in .in color mode to take out any stray colors.
then a shadows /highlight layer to bring out the shadows in the wood piles
last of all a bit of sharpening.
note : when saved for the web the web photo looks nothing like the original ive got ? .

drs18 08-28-2014 05:43 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
This was so much fun; thanks for the challenge. I just had to stop and move on to work that isn't so enjoyable. All the versions here already are absolutely fantastic.

Once compiled into channels, I copied good picture information from where it existed on one channel and pasted it in place on damaged channels - using curves or levels to match as much as possible. For this, the movement in some of the figures was so bothersome that I duplicated the RGB image, converted the copy to Lab color, and pasted a copy of the original's Green channel into the new Lightness channel for a clearly focused image. The old green channel required curves tweaking to get it to work as an L. I converted back to RGB, pasted the copy in a layer underneath the original RGB image, and used a layer mask to gently bring back detail in the places I wanted. Like I said, real good fun. In the 1960s I watched my dad use Grumbacher Gamma Grays to retouch photos "longhand" I wish he could see this.

Copperbat 08-29-2014 01:16 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
I felt the lighting (sunset colors) and composition/cropping should be preserved as much as possible since this is clearly a portrait of the workers and their production at the end of a full day on the job. I was also amazed at the age of the photograph and how beautiful the colors turned out.

RichieMB 08-31-2014 05:30 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
2 Attachment(s)
here is my attempt. 3rd

designer74 08-31-2014 11:26 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
2 Attachment(s)
Hello all,

Here's my 3 hour effort on this. After merging layers, I transformed part of the layer that was inconsistent with the rest (the kneeling man moved) so that it was aligned.

I sharpened the image a lot and adjusted brightness to highlight subjects.
I attached a cropped closeup to see face detail. (unfortunately much of the detail was lost in downsizing for 100kb)

Each channel was retouched to remove damaged areas (trees, right side, etc.) including transposing good areas from one channel onto a damaged area from another, followed by adjustments to match channels density average.

I would appreciate critique/feedback.

Tom W.

T Paul 09-07-2014 04:51 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
To keep the contest thread to just entries, I have moved all of your great discussion posts to the Aug-Sep 2014 Contest Discussion Thread.

T Paul 09-07-2014 04:55 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
For those of you with more than one entry post, please delete or move your extra entry posts in order to avoid having your entries disqualified. :depressed

If you are having difficulty doing this, just let me know. You can also edit your post and add "please move to discussion thread" or "not for contest entry", and I will move those posts to the discussion thread.

daygraphics 09-11-2014 07:50 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
This is it. My last stab. Still could work it more, but I've had my fun. Great exercise and I learned a lot.

LonK 09-14-2014 06:08 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
"Woodcutters on the Svir River" (1909)
by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944)
Merged, adjusted and corrected color separations, restored and enhanced.

Turbot 09-20-2014 03:29 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
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I hope I've uploaded this correctly. I've not entered a competition before and this small size doesn't really show the clarity of the faces :-( But I felt the picture needed to show the men in context, with the logs around them.

I dealt with the problem of the men moving between takes by using just one colour channel for the middle face and then placing a colour adjustment layer over it.

It was a fun challenge - thanks!

seamore 09-21-2014 01:59 PM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
1 Attachment(s)
Hi this is my first time do a challenge like this.
I love restoring old photos.This one was a challenge for me
which I love the chance to learn something new.
I cropped the photo to make three photos then lined them up
and merged the channels together. Did some retouching and
and some color adjustment.

T Paul 10-13-2014 10:04 AM

Re: Aug-Sep 2014 Merge Channels Contest
I was thrilled with all the entries this month! So many new names. I was initially afraid that this challenge might scare contestants away :eek:, but you guys proved me wrong. :) I was also happy to see some old friends that we havenít seen in awhile.

Kudos to all the entrees and a special thanks for those that shared tips. My favorite contests are the ones where I see a lot of dialogue between the entrees!

The votes were close...

And the winner is Tsykhra!

Top 5
Tsykhra - 17
designer74 - 14
Mr_G - 11
LonK - 9
daygraphics - 8

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