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BW vs Sepia

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Old 04-28-2010, 04:24 PM
fstr21 fstr21 is offline
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BW vs Sepia

Just wanted to get everyones thoughts, I am constantly starting any image with auto tone and auto color (which usually ends up black and white or close to it) and from your experiences what is usually the preference. I am sure its dependent on the client but as far as setting up examples on a restoration site any ideas? Leave the sepia or auto color it?
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:34 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: BW vs Sepia

Sometimes the original sepia tone will assist your restoration efforts but other times B&W will make your job easier - it all depends on what needs to be fixed. Auto Level, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color are 3 adjustments I NEVER use. More often than not they induce additional damage which makes the image more difficult to work on.
Regards, Murray
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:50 PM
fstr21 fstr21 is offline
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Re: BW vs Sepia

yea i felt that the autos were cheating too. but when i adjusted levels manually by holding alt and going channel by channel the out come always ends up real close to what auto does.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:19 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: BW vs Sepia


Most of us don't use the "auto" options, as we prefer to have a little more control over the adjustments. However, they are not a bad way to make very fast corrections to color images in good condition. (I can't say I've ever tried them for deteriorated black and whites, sepias, or deteriorated color images.)

After PS Ver 7, the auto modes improved substantially. A few tweaks to the default settings are in order to get the best results. You access the defaults through the normal Levels or Curves command dialog boxes.

Accessing the defaults:
- Open a levels or curves dialog.
- Click on Options.
- Adjust the defaults to:
> Enhance per channel contrast
> Snap neutral midtones
> Shadow clip = 0.01%
> Highlight clip = 0.01%
- Click on Save as defaults, then click OK.

The Enhance per channel contrast works the same as moving each channel in Levels to the point where image information starts. Basically, what we would do anyway.

The Snap neutral midtones looks for neutral colors in the image and sets them to gray. Basically, the same as when we white-balance after the fact.

The Shadow Clip and Highlight Clip are the percent of tones PS ignores during the calculations. The clipping values tend to be a little high by default. Lowering the threshold seems to work a bit better.

After setting the new defaults, it should work a bit better. You can also have PS do just part of these automatically, giving you at least a bit more control.
- Auto Contrast is the same as having opted for Enhance monochromatic contrast
- Auto Levels is the same as having opted for Enhance per channel contrast
- Auto Color is the same as having opted for Find dark and light colors + Snap neutral midtones

*(Auto Color is usually the least predictable and may introduce color casts.)

All of this would explain why you are getting very similar results when you adjust your levels, as Auto levels is quite accurate and can do as good as we can normally.

Last edited by TommyO; 04-29-2010 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Stray minus sign.
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