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My first time working with color, any thoughts?

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  #1  
Old 07-26-2005, 07:32 PM
Robert Martens Robert Martens is offline
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My first time working with color, any thoughts?

Well, hey there! I'm new here, but I know people hate introduction threads, so I'll keep this short.

I started getting my photo restoration feet wet a couple of years ago when I cleaned up some photos for my grandmother, the results of which were quite satisfying. The look on her face when she saw them made me want to do more, though I've only gotten around to it in the past week.

I've borrowed some old photographs from her that she has said she'd like to have enlarged. Most are (supposed to be) black and white, but one is full color, and is the victim of an ugly yellow color cast. Based on my previous--albeit minimal--photo experience, my interest in the color grading of video and film, and a copy of Katrin Eismann's wonderful book, I've begun work on said photo. The only problem is that I've worked with all of one color image in the past, and even then it was a simple matter of enlarging an already well exposed, color balanced image.

Attached, you'll find the original and current versions of the photo. You can stop laughing about the file names; she has always insisted on being called "nanny", on the grounds that "grandma" made her feel old.

My methods are as follows:

After some false starts working with an 8 bit per component scan in Paint Shop Pro 7, which has given me great results in the past, I decided to try something new. I rescanned the photo at 1200 dpi, 16 bits, and instead loaded it into my copy of combustion 3, the only program I own that lets me work with such images. Heck, it'd let me work with 32 bit, floating point images, if I could scan them and had a system with enough kick to it. Aside from the occasional crash (brought about, I'm sure, by working at a resolution above even a 4k film scan on a rather middling computer), it gives me enormous control, and everything I need with regard to photo work, considering my barely existent skill level.

I first duplicated the original layer, and used the multiply transfer mode to darken things a bit, also making the image a little more...shall we say, substantial. I cropped the result to the area I wished to work on, not only getting rid of some ugly missing patches and tears, but also creating what is to my eye a more pleasing composition. Then, in an attempt to alleviate the load on my system's resources, I saved the result as a 16 bit, uncompressed TIFF, and reloaded it to continue work. Even a gig of RAM runs out quickly with combustion, unfortunately. Anyway, after that, using the saved image, I used the Discreet Color Corrector to get rid of the yellow cast in the original, through a combination of Histogram adjustments and curves.

That's pretty much all I've done so far, and I'd like to get some ideas as to where I should go next. I think the highlights are still a bit muddy, and there isn't as much definition in my grandmother's face as I'd like. I know there wasn't much to begin with, but I feel like what information is there could somehow be brought out, though I'm unsure how I'd do that. The cloning necessary to eliminate scratches and marks on everyone's faces is on my to do list, but only after I get the major, sweeping color correction out of the way. I'm also strapped for ideas regarding the print texture problem, which has manifest itself as a series of lines running horizontally across the image. The oft-mentioned technique of scanning the photo in twice, once upside down, and combining the two after the fact has always confounded me. Unless the edges of the print are absolutely perfect cuts, which none of my photos are, aligning the two versions seems completely impossible to me, since the scans wouldn't be exactly 180 degrees apart. I'd have to make such minute adjustments that it'd take me years to get anything resembling an acceptable match.

The ultimate goal is to make an 8x10 print out of this thing, if possible (I'll hopefully get a decent photo printer sometime soon--this HP officejet has been nothing but trouble when it comes to color of any kind), and present it as a gift to my grandmother. In her late 70s, her eyesight isn't what it used to be, I understand, but with this being a family photo, and all, I'd like to get rid of as many imperfections as possible.

I hate to make a big deal out of an image that would probably be a snap for a seasoned pro, but I'm new at all this, so I'd appreciate any suggestions you guys've got.
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File Type: jpg NannyWeddingOriginal.jpg (49.1 KB, 73 views)
File Type: jpg NannyWeddingTest1.jpg (49.2 KB, 78 views)
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2005, 12:25 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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contrast and sharpening are generally what are used to bring out detail. contrast can be done several ways, with curves, levels, contrast/brightness and some others.

the biggest problem i see with this picture is the woman in the foreground's face. it's pretty 'blown out', meaning, almost white. this means there's little or no color data to retrieve. and that means you have to do this with reconstruction techniques rather than restoring techniques.

there are several good tutoriials on colorizing on retouchpro. i dont have the links off hand, but they are referenced frequently so shldnt be too hard to find.

Craig
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:54 PM
Robert Martens Robert Martens is offline
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Ah, yes, the color, that's the other thing that was bothering me...I know she's Irish, but the skin still seemed a little pale. I'm the same way...

Now, coloring her by hand should make the skin tone a bit more pleasing, but what about the little details themselves? The nose, for example. It may be hard to make out, but the lines are there, and I'd think it's possible to make things a little clearer. You say some contrast adjustment will do it, but let me ask you, should I perform such an adjustment on the entire image, or make a selection of her face, and focus my attention there?

Thanks for the tips, I'll get on the colorization ASAP!
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Old 07-27-2005, 09:08 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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in general, the answer to your question is the question; yes, do both. i'd start with the overall, maybe a curves adjustment layer to get the balance and contrast better. if more is needed on the face, then go ahead and do that independently.

also, just as a general note, on a picture like this where the detail is faded, you want to bring out the detail first. you cant work on what you cant see. a little contrast, balancing of light/dark, sharpening (maybe, but maybe later; just depends), some hue/saturation/lightness as an adjustment layer and so on is often required before ever trying to reconstruct a missing color.

Craig
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:37 PM
Robert Martens Robert Martens is offline
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Right, I see what you mean about the detail. I'll be sure to get that where I want it before moving on to the color problems.

Thanks for the advice, I'll keep you posted on my progress!
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Old 07-28-2005, 05:22 AM
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Flora Flora is offline
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Hi Robert Martens,

Welcome to RP!

I work with Photoshop only so, I can't really help you regarding any other image manipulation software .... I can't add anything to what you have already explained about scanning resolution, methods etc. ... Where I might be able to help you is in the restoration of your image ....

For what I see, you have just tried a 'global' fix ... meaning:
Quote:
I first duplicated the original layer, and used the multiply transfer mode to darken things a bit, also making the image a little more...shall we say, substantial. I cropped the result to the area I wished to work on, not only getting rid of some ugly missing patches and tears, but also creating what is to my eye a more pleasing composition.
You did manage to darken your whole image ... but, from what I can see ... it didn't solve the problem of 'bringing back' details from the original nearly 'blown' highlights, which have now become grey instead of nearly white but still lack details, and part of the shadows have become solid black actually losing all details they had in the 'faded' original ......

It's very rare the occasion when a 'global' fix corrects all the problems in a picture .... and this becomes impossible if the image is unevenly faded ... That's why, in my opinion, it's always better to correct shadows and highlights separately ....

Actually, if you want to bring out as many details as possible (provided there still are some...) you should balance Shadows/Highlights first .... and here I differ from Craig about contrast and sharpening, which are great to enhance the details once they have been 'uncovered' by balancing .... as a test for this, try to increase contrast and sharpness in your corrected (darker) version .... what is already there will be enhanced ... but all the faces will turn a nearly ghostly white which would be impossible to fix ....

I hope you don't mind ... I worked on the original image you posted ... as mentioned before, I balanced shadows and highlights separately and managed to 'bring out' a few details .... The faces in my 'restored' version might look a bit oversaturated since I enhanced the colour on them only, leaving the rest of the picture as it was ... It was just to show one way of dealing with these problems ....

I don't know how the procedure could be done with PSP, but Craig can be an enormous help

Hope this helps ...
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Old 07-28-2005, 03:13 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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flora is being kind to me. compared to her, i'm a hack. and she's right about sharpening. i qualified it a bit in a later post, but in my original post i shld have qualified it more. sharpening can be used in a very limited way, sometimes, to bring out a bit of detail, but that's mostly where an image is blurred, not where it is faded or where color loss has occurred like in your picture.

another good way to bring out detail sometimes, and i havent tried it on yours yet, is with a histogram adjustment. this can be used in a similar way to curves to get more contrast.

and flora, how did you get so much color back in the foreground woman's face?

Craig
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Old 07-28-2005, 03:44 PM
Robert Martens Robert Martens is offline
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I had wanted to have something to show for myself before responding, but I've run into trouble.

First let me say that no, I don't mind the work you did, and find myself questioning how you did something so mind blowing in such a short period of time. My jaw has dropped, and I thank you for taking the time to try your hand at the photo.

I've started over, once again, with the 16 bit TIFF scan in combustion. This time around, I've generated a lower resolution proxy image to work with (a feature built into the program, it's a wonder I didn't use it sooner) for purposes of color correction. Naturally, come cloning time, I'll switch back to full resolution, but performance is an issue for the time being.

You suggested that I "balance" the shadows and highlights first, and separately. I took that to mean I should make sure my blacks were black (though not crushed) and my whites were white (though not clipped), without any unwanted color casts. I did this using simple Gamma/Gain/Offset controls (leaving the Gamma and Offset alone, and just tweaking the Gain of each color), the idea being that although I have access to fancier stuff (histogram adjustments, curves, a color wheel, color suppression, and so on), it would probably be best to start off with the basics. Feel free to correct my thinking, however, if it's off the mark.

During all of this, I made a point of adjusting my Luma Ranges (to define which pixels are highlights, which are midtones, and which are shadows). Things seemed to be going well, and I until I tried increasing the contrast/saturation. No matter where I attempt this, in the highlights, midtones, shadows, anywhere, the image becomes blown out, and exhibits that "ghostly white" skin tone you spoke of. Really, no matter what I do, the image just ends up looking either blown out or washed out.


I wouldn't dream of asking you to write an essay covering the process you used on this picture, but if I may be so bold, could you go over one or two steps you took? We're using totally different software, I understand, but I usually don't find it too difficult to translate these things. Many of the tools are similar, if not the same, and if you mentioned some specifics, I think I'd be able to figure out what Photoshop-equivalent functions this program has...
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Old 07-28-2005, 08:17 PM
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Flora Flora is offline
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Craig,

I'm not just 'being kind' I do value your work, insight, tips and advices a lot !!! ....
Quote:
how did you get so much color back in the foreground woman's face?
... working on individual selections, using the Levels (on the individual Channels), Selective Colors and Color Balance .... meaning selecting each face with relative arms and hands separately ... all this on the previously 'balanced' picture ....

Robert,

So glad you liked what I did ...
Quote:
I took that to mean I should make sure my blacks were black (though not crushed) and my whites were white (though not clipped),
... not necessarily ... because, lightening highlights and darkening shadows means only increasing contrast ... If a picture is very faded you would want to add consistency ... this means surely darkening the shadows ... but it means also toning down/darkening the highlights ... not lightening them ...

In your picture, the big problem are the extremely faded highlights while the shadows aren't that bad ... yes, they too are faded, but they still have consistency and you can clearly see all details in the darker areas ... meaning the shadow need very little tweaking to be fine ... while most of the work must be done on the highlights ...

In other words, balancing Shadows/Highlights, for me, means bringing these two extremes 'closer' to each other ... which, in most cases, means 'decreasing' the contrast!!! I hope I'm explaining myself clearly .... English isn't my first language so I might make some confusion or be somewhat 'obscure' when translating into words what I have very 'clear' in my mind ....

In Photoshop, starting with the CS version, there is a magic Shadow/Highlights Option ... (I'm actually preparing a Tutorial on it) which lets you do the 'balancing' in one go!!! ... That's what I used here ... but suspecting PSP doesn't have such an Option, I worked out an alternative method using Curves, Levels and Layer/Channel masks which, I think, are available in PSP too...
  1. I started by duplicating the Green Channel, Strongly increased its contrast to create a Mask, blurred it and selected its luminosity ... (Attachment 1).

  2. With the selection active, I went back to the Layers and the composite view ... in Attachment 2, is my whole workflow and I'll explain what I did...

  3. Working up from the bottom of my workflow:
    Curves 1 > applied to the 'light areas' of the image (Attachment 3)
    Levels 1 > applied to the 'light areas' of the image (Attachment 4)
    Levels 2 > applied to the 'dark areas' of the image (Attachment 5)

...I'm continuing with my next post since it isn't allowed to have more than 5 attachments per post ...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg SNAP-0035.jpg (96.3 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0036.jpg (93.0 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0037.jpg (90.0 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0038.jpg (75.9 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0039.jpg (76.5 KB, 8 views)
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Old 07-28-2005, 08:24 PM
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  1. Hue/Saturation 1 > applied globally, to minimize the yellow cast (Attachment 1)

  2. Curves 2 > applied to the foreground woman's face only to increase consistency (Attachment 2)

  3. Brightenss/Contrast 1 > Applied globally to improve contrast a bit ...(Attachment 3)

  4. Attachment 4 shows the result of this 'new' procedure on the foreground woman's skin ..

As you can see from my workflow, all this was followed by the selective enhancing of colours as I explained to Craig ...

I know it looks like a 'neverending story' ... but it was actually quite fast .... it surely takes me much longer to write it down ...

I hope that you can translate al this for PSP ... and that it can help ...
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File Type: jpg SNAP-0040.jpg (81.8 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0041.jpg (92.5 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0042.jpg (37.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg SNAP-0043.jpg (93.0 KB, 29 views)
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