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What can be done with blown out whites?

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  #1  
Old 03-13-2010, 01:28 PM
santalady santalady is offline
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What can be done with blown out whites?

I have several very old photos (90+ years old) that have a lot of blown out whites. I have tried painting over a color blending layer and tried using a 50%gray layer painted with black but nothing seems to touch the all white areas. The only thing that seems to help at all is reducing the white output on a levels layer. Below is the before and after. Not much difference. Is there a technique that will do anything for these whites?
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File Type: jpg Wm Cathey Wolfe's reunion100kb.jpg (97.5 KB, 100 views)
File Type: jpg Wm-Cathey-Wolfe's-reunionrev100kb.jpg (99.9 KB, 81 views)
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Old 03-13-2010, 02:26 PM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Are they that blown on the originals?

Maybe a re-scan is in order.... no info in the blown areas = no info to play with

Blend it with the original and mask out what you don't want
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Old 03-13-2010, 02:38 PM
LensCap LensCap is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

What has worked fairly well for me is to use the "magic wand" to select the whites in this area. Play with the selection parameters to feather the edges and how wide a range of whites are selected.
Then, I will make this white selection go "gradient gray" with two variations of gray color selections. Genrally the darker gradient is towards the top. This is followed by adding grain to break up the montony of the tones and match the photo's look.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:07 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Santalady,
As OlBaldy said, there is nothing you can do if there is no data in the whites. If you sample an area on the original and the RGB values are approaching 255,255,255 , then there is no data to play with.

This was often a problem with non-professional photos from that era. They simply did not discover the problem until after developing the image. At that point, everyone was on the coach going back home.

I like the less contrasty image. One way to offset the whites, is by focusing on bringing out more detail on the gray areas, decrease the contrast, and add a hint of sepia. Since the people are very small, you could also do a bit of very minor painting on their faces, just a hint in order to fake a bit of detail. Anything more than a hint will be noticeable.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:35 PM
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

I like to add noise and bit of color, while reducing the contrast.
Good Luck!
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File Type: jpg Wm Cathey Wolfe's reunion100kb2.jpg (97.9 KB, 72 views)
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:01 PM
santalady santalady is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Thank you all so much for the ideas. Ol Baldy, I wondered if the scan might be the problem, but unfortunately I got this from a family member who got it from a family member who got it from.....etc. So far I have been unable to track it down. So at least for now I'm stuck with this blown out version.

I'm still new to "adding noise" to photos and am amazed at the difference it makes on one like this. I lowered the contrast and added a sepia tone and tried to make it like Aartist's version. Great job, by the way. I love what you did with the tree! Thanks for showing me where to aim and how to go about getting there. I'm so greatful for everyone's expertise in these matters. THANK YOU!
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:06 PM
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Looks good AArtist, softened it nicely... good job!!
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:35 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Actually there is a way to add color to pure white. You can not blend in color mode in RGB because blending with pure white will result in pure white. However you can do so in LAB color.
First, while in RGB, add a blank layer above the background. With the paint brush, choose a dark color and paint over a white area in normal mode and normal blend mode. Yes, you will see nothing but 100% opacity color on top of your background. Now go Image>Mode>LAB. When PS asks you if you want to flatten the image, say No - Do not flatten. Now once you convert to LAB, change the blend mode of the paint layer from Normal to Color. Voila, you now have some color in the whites. Make sure you flatten the image before you convert back to RGB color. Once back in RGB, you can apply a curve or other blend mode to darken the white areas that have been colorized.
You will still have a problem with these images because all of the blown out areas have no texture. You will need to add some noise and / or some texture.
Examples below:
1. Pasted Clouds and blue sky on blank layer in RGB; painted over blouse and added gross noise
2. Converted image to LAB and changed to color blend mode
3. Flattened image, converted to RGB and added Hue/Sat adj layer to adj colors and tone
Regards, Murray
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Santalady Highlights MM Interim.jpg (199.1 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg Santalady Highlights MM Interim 2.jpg (186.3 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg Santalady Highlights MM Final.jpg (174.1 KB, 47 views)

Last edited by mistermonday; 03-13-2010 at 09:53 PM. Reason: Added Images
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:41 AM
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Alison Alison is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

Swampy had a tutorial somewhere for fixing a blown out sky.

Choose a Selective Colour adjustment layer, change the selection to "Absolute", choose "White/s" from the drop down menu, and then add yellow perhaps to take away the stark white. You might have to mask off the areas you don't want it on - if it bleeds.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:14 AM
santalady santalady is offline
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Re: What can be done with blown out whites?

I've taken all of your suggestions (i.e. adding noise, lower contrast, add sepia, selective color, a little face painting, etc.) and here is where I've gotten it to this point. Do you have any other suggestions for this? Thanks again for all the help!
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File Type: jpg Wolfe Reunion Rev100.jpg (97.5 KB, 50 views)
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