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Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

stuck with contrast and snow

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  #1  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:48 AM
Airdale Airdale is offline
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stuck with contrast and snow

I am working on an old photo of my dad from when he was in the army. You can see him standing in a dark uniform on a snowy field with some sad looking buildings in the background. The photo is rather contrasty (i think). Between the "neat image" plug in and the healing brush I got the damage out of him and his clothing. I also used Levels to open up the shadows in the coat. And now I am stuck - I cannot get it to that "wow, that's a good photo" look. The snow, which I know can look really good on photos, here looks flat and dirty or is just blown out to paper while. I am not sure what direction to go with the image at all - how do I bring out the face features with out increasing the contrast even more and losing the few shades of gray I've got? Should I be approaching the whole thing differently? Do I need to color it? Any and all suggestions would be very appreciated!

(PS. this is my first post so please forgive if I inadvertently did something wrong. I've been lurking on retouch pro for a while, and you all are really amazing)

thanks
Airdale
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File Type: jpg 00000015military-copy.jpg (92.3 KB, 80 views)
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2006, 11:19 AM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

airdale, welcome to RP.

nice picture. looks like you did a good job. not sure how much you had to clean up, but looks pretty good.

as for adding those last few steps to make things pop a bit more, we're still going to talk about contrast. in fact, since it's black and white, that's really all there is to talk about

i'm posting 3 images here. each one was done with the 'clarify' filter in psp xi. and, each was done on duplicate layer with clarify run on the top layer and then i set the blend mode to darken on each. the difference is the strength of the clarify filter. the first is at 5, the next at 10 and the last at 20.

but that only handles one part of your request, the contrast. for sharpness, you have several options. you can use 'high pass sharpen', 'unsharp mask (usm)', or the normal sharpen filters. there are also other ways, especially in a black and white. i think something like Stroker's 'Lum Frequencies' might also work on this.

i did some sharpening for practice on the various clarify images but i'm not posting those for now. i also didnt know what program you're using. and i'm not sure what the equivalent is in photoshop, if that's what you're using, for clarfiy.

but the basic idea here is contrast and then sharpen and like you said, without ruining the work you already have and losing the grays and so on. the clarify filter is a great filter for this sort of thing.

oh, and did you know there's a guard tower in the background?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg clarify5-darken-1-k-1.jpg (97.0 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg clarify10-darken-1-k-1.jpg (94.0 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg clarify20-darken-1-k-1.jpg (94.3 KB, 56 views)
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2006, 04:29 PM
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bart_hickman bart_hickman is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

If you're using photoshop, then the highlight/shadow tool might be what you're after. First attachment shows a quick boost of shadows with shadow/highlight. Now that the background texture is visible, I can see some smoothing you did to it around his body so you'll want to do that a bit differently.

Second attachment is with lens blur applied to the background--just an idea.

Third attachment is the layer palette. Note the use of a gradient in the mask to control the depth map for the lens blur filter.

Bart
Attached Images
File Type: jpg shadowhighlight.jpg (49.9 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg lensblur.jpg (28.4 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg military_layers.jpg (15.4 KB, 18 views)
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  #4  
Old 10-21-2006, 04:42 PM
Airdale Airdale is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

Thank you much for your suggestions Kraellin. i did NOT know there was a watch tower in the background :-) Is there a way to bring it out more? I am currently using photoshop 7.

<< we're still going to talk about contrast. in fact, since it's black and white, that's really all there is to talk about >>

Hehe - well, when you put it that way it does make sense

<<i'm posting 3 images here. each one was done with the 'clarify' filter in psp xi. and, each was done on duplicate layer with clarify run on the top layer and then i set the blend mode to darken on each. the difference is the strength of the clarify filter. the first is at 5, the next at 10 and the last at 20.>>

I like the 20 picture the best of the three. No having the clarify filter in photoshop, I am not sure what ny equivalent should be... What exactly does clarify do?- maybe i can figure out something seminar.

Re sharpening, I've been trying the high-pass filter method (which I just learned and have been trying left and right). I will take your suggestion and try the USM. I'll keep at it. Maybe once the snow is brought out, the sharpening will do more for me.

But why isn't everything in "brilliant, rich, portrait like" color? What's the magic that I am missing?

Thank you again for your help. I am looking forward to getting back to my photo

-Alla
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  #5  
Old 10-21-2006, 04:52 PM
Airdale Airdale is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

Thank you Bart. I really like your gradient idea - I had not thought of it. I also like how you boosted the texture... But where is the highlight/shadow tool (I have photoshop 7 - is that the same as the burn/dodge tool?)


<< Now that the background texture is visible, I can see some smoothing you did to it around his body so you'll want to do that a bit differently.>>

Caught me :-) I selected him as a rectangle for the "neat image" filter application. It looked fine before you improved the image. I will add a mask to that to keep it out.

To get just the background on the blur layer did you use a quick mask to select the main subject out? Or did you erase him out? It looked very neatly done.

thanks
Airdale
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  #6  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:28 PM
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DCobb DCobb is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

Looked interesting--gave it a try. I adjusted three layers--snow, building, soldier-- and then put them together. Used the healing brush on a few spots I saw in the snow.

dc
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File Type: jpg soldier_snow_retouch_w.jpg (71.7 KB, 27 views)
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  #7  
Old 10-22-2006, 01:02 AM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

airdale,

there really isnt a good equivalent in PS for the clarify filter that i know of. basically, it enhances the blacks to bring them out more, giving a specific type of contrast and edging. at least, that's what i see. have a look for yourself and you judge.

Quote:
But why isn't everything in "brilliant, rich, portrait like" color? What's the magic that I am missing?
and as for that statement, i dont know what you mean, since everything is black and white. if you mean, how do you get it to pop more, the answer is more definition, less 'dirt' (noise and parts of the image that just look dirty), a wide range of shades but with good contrast along edges and a believable restore. there is no single, do-it-all filter. and you have to be aware that 'pop' can also lead to trouble, like too much grain, too much contrast, too unbelievable and so on.

i did really like the clarify 20, for instance. it made the snow look too grainy, almost like gravel in parts. but, it did bring out parts of the image more. so, there's almost always a tradeoff.

and first and foremost, not all photos were taken by professionals. so, restoring is just bringing an image back to how it looked when taken, regardless of how good or bad the original was. if, and only if, you've done that, then can you think about enhancing further. this is why i didnt like the clarfiy 20 that much. it took enhancing too far and over just restoring. but again, there was a benefit.

so, one thing you can do with these things is masking. masking allows you to pull in the parts you like and discard others. for instance, i could keep the clarify 10 snow and man, but maybe mask and get the clarify 20 background stuff. digital makes this pretty easy.

ok, so i did two more. one is the clarify 10 and the other the clarify 20. both had a few more things done, like cloning out spots and such and cleaning up some of the background smudging. i also ran this thru psp's 'time machine' and that added a nice frame and a tiny bit of vignetting.

and since you mentioned high pass, i dont know about PS, but psp actually has two filters named high pass, one is simply 'high pass' and the other is 'high pass sharpen'. high pass probably wont do you much good on this image. high pass sharpen, might.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg clarify10-darken-usm-1-k-1.jpg (95.4 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg clarify20-darken-usm-1-k-1.jpg (97.0 KB, 27 views)
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  #8  
Old 10-22-2006, 06:12 PM
Airdale Airdale is offline
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Re: stuck with contrast and snow

Thank you for everyone's help an inspiration. I am still working on this, but here is what i have so far

<< if you mean, how do you get it to pop more, the answer is more definition, less 'dirt' (noise and parts of the image that just look dirty), a wide range of shades but with good contrast along edges and a believable restore. >>

Yes, that is exactly what I meant. Thank you, that helps. I have been working on clean-up. The face is the hardest but I will go through all the elements and try and scare the noise away:-) the sharpened edges will be harder, but i am still working.

I also decided to shamelessly steal snow from a stock photo and "vivid light" overlay it with my grainy-dirty snow. How do you guys like the idea?

<<ok, so i did two more. one is the clarify 10 and the other the clarify 20. both had a few more things done, like cloning out spots and such and cleaning up some of the background smudging. i also ran this thru psp's 'time machine' and that added a nice frame and a tiny bit of vignetting.>>

I compared them side by side with what I had come up with (before snow-stealing) and mine were not as good as either of yours. Now even close. Good idea with the frame. If I will not be framing the final version I will add a frame like that. Please tell me what you think of my stolen snow version.

thank you!
-Airdale
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File Type: jpg temp-photo.jpg (98.6 KB, 18 views)
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