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Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

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  #1  
Old 09-05-2011, 11:35 AM
LynetteW LynetteW is offline
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Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Hi, everyone! I'm strictly amateur at photo repair and consider it a hobby. I have been doing it for several years so I'm not a beginner, but there is still a whole lot I don't know, and would very much appreciate your advice. I'm using Photoshop CS 8.

I'd say I'm about halfway through the restoration. The original photo is stuck to glass and there's no way I'm going to try to remove it, so I'm working with it as-is. My intention for the final product is to crop it in a round or oval shape (whichever works best) to get rid of all the irreparable damage but maintain the old photo vibe.

So far I've desaturated, manually retinted, cloned, painted, dodged and burned, adjusted the curves, saturation and contrast, and applied a gaussian blur to the background to make the subjects stand out more.

Somewhere during all this the unnevenness of the color, especially on the babies, has become more obvious. They look like little ghosts. I've tried burning, adjusting the curves, and even lowering the brightness on the affected areas and nothing looks right.

Any advice and criticism would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg lynna ggpa.jpg (97.2 KB, 129 views)
File Type: jpg lynna ggpa working.jpg (86.5 KB, 114 views)
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2011, 09:38 PM
John Wheeler's Avatar
John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Hi Lynette
It is a little hard to tell because your posted images apparently were compressed so much that there are many JPEG compression artifacts obscuring the issue you are having.

Here is what I think.
- The original image does not look like it has an issue and there is plenty of tonality to work with.
- Somewhere along the way you introduced some anomalies through editing (e.g. pixels went through some extreme changes possibly causing posterization in those areas (don't know that for sure)
In any case, if you used a non-destructive workflow, I would recommend backing up to the point where you don't have the problem and starting from there.

To minimize such problems at the beginning of editing, I usually recommend

- scanning at 16 bit per color channel with a scanner that can capture a high tonal range.
- do all editing in 16 bit (helps avoid posterization issues when editing compared to 8 bit mode)
- bring the images in through ACR for initial adjustments for tone (bringing in TIFF or JPG files in through ACR is an option you can set under preferences > Camera Raw. The editing options here are almost identical to LR and produce great results even before going into Photoshop.

If you have not used a non-destructive workflow and you cannot go back, then you have a tough decision. Do I start over or try and repair the introduced damage? If you want/need to take the later path, it would be much easier for forum members to help with a better image to examine what is going on. This can be done by cropping your image to just the areas that are important for feedback and keep the JPEG compression quality as high as possible. Alternately host the image and provide a link

Hope that helps.
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  #3  
Old 09-06-2011, 01:43 PM
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Vernon Vernon is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Visit this link for a possible tutorial on address/restoring the photo:

http://www.photoshopwebsite.com/phot...amaged-photos/
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  #4  
Old 09-06-2011, 03:15 PM
LynetteW LynetteW is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Thanks for the advice, John. Unfortunately I don't have access to high-end scanners and such so I'm trying to squeeze the best I can out of what I have (an Epson Artisan 810). I learned a long time ago to save in stages, but I may go back to the beginning anyway and scan it with the settings you suggested. I really want to find out what I did to mess it up so that I won't do it again. I suspect I may have been too heavy-handed with dodge and burn.

Thank you for the link, Vernon. I'll definitely check that out.

Here are links to high resolution versions:
Original

In progress

Last edited by LynetteW; 09-06-2011 at 03:34 PM. Reason: Hit submit too soon ...
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  #5  
Old 09-07-2011, 11:37 AM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Hi Lynette

Your scanner will do just fine. It has optical 4800 dpi resolution as well as 48 bit color depth (16 bit per channel). No doubt you have to set the scanner driver some particular way to preserve that 16 bit depth though. You would have to scan to a TIFF file or equivalent. Scanning to a JPG would definitely truncate the information to 8 bit.

Also,scanning at least 2X the resolution of your final print resolution can be helpful during editing sometimes as well (I always scan at a high resolution since I never know in advance the largest print I will ever make.

Scanning to 16 bit and editing in 16 bit will give you a lot more latitude in editing in helping avoid introduction of some types of anomalies in editing (not all of course). It's best to avoid the editing steps that are prone to introducing these anomalies yet those steps are not well documented.

Hope that is helpful.
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  #6  
Old 09-07-2011, 11:57 AM
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Tony W Tony W is online now
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

The only thing I would add to the good advice you have been given so far is to check the histogram in your new scan.

Looking at the original you posted there is very little detail apparent (it may look better in the original scan though) in the faces of the babies.

It may be just that there is nothing to be seen in the original therefore nothing that can be enhanced or it may be that the scanner has been set for auto contrast/density and it is averaging all the values adding to the washed out look. If you can try adjusting the histogram in the scan software to increase the apparent density and contrast (be careful not to go too far and clip detail!) in the faces - it may help a little if there is any detail left in the original.

Quick try with your original (discarded colour) looks like even if there is a little more detail to be had that you may see blur due to subject movement
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File Type: jpg fadedbabies.jpg (97.6 KB, 51 views)

Last edited by Tony W; 09-07-2011 at 12:08 PM.
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  #7  
Old 09-18-2011, 11:23 AM
LynetteW LynetteW is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Thanks again for your help and advice, John and Tony. I started over and have been working on it off and on. I'm back to the approximate point where I quit on the last try and have managed not to mess up the kids like I did last time. I was able to see faint shadows of the nose and mouth of the child on the left so I ran the burn tool over them a couple of times. I'm not sure I like how it currently looks though.

Tony, yes, there is definitely motion blur. On top of that it's an old gelatin silver print and I think parts of it were just washed away when the water damage occurred. Your version does show a lot more detail than my original try ... and the extent of the water damage. I wonder what happened. I don't think the owner knows--that's her great-great-grandfather with her great-grandfather, so the photo is on its fourth generation of the family.

Fortunately the owner of the photo doesn't care about the sepia. I did what Tony did (at least I think that's what you did, lol) and discarded all but the yellow channel because it had the best contrast and detail. For some reason it seems to be easier to work in b&w anyway. Here's my current version. I've still got a ways to go, and for some reason when I uploaded it to Photobucket it picked up a blue-green tint which doesn't appear in the Photoshop doc:

http://i1183.photobucket.com/albums/...paworking1.jpg

Am I the only one who thinks great-great-grandpa looks a bit like Bruce Campbell?

Last edited by LynetteW; 09-18-2011 at 05:11 PM. Reason: I can't tell left from right, apparently
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  #8  
Old 09-21-2011, 11:19 PM
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JAYKAT JAYKAT is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Here is my tries...hehehe.. I am still new at all this.....omg Lynette that is amazing!!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg lynna ggpa.jpg (97.2 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg lynna ggpa1.jpg (67.4 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg lynna ggpa2.jpg (66.7 KB, 40 views)
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  #9  
Old 10-02-2011, 07:54 AM
LynetteW LynetteW is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Thanks, Jaykat! It's a tough one. I like your third try the best.

Fortunately the client didn't care about the sepia so I dumped it, which actually made it easier. Here is what I eventually went with:

http://i1183.photobucket.com/albums/...ablurround.jpg
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  #10  
Old 10-03-2011, 08:50 PM
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JAYKAT JAYKAT is offline
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Re: Newbie question--uneven color in old photo

Lynette that came out lovely.....Very Nice!!!! *
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