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Help! Too many cracks!!

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  • Help! Too many cracks!!

    I've been a little silent in the forums lately - because I've had some ridiculously difficult photos to work on. At least, I think they're hard. I've been tearing my hair out over this one and could use some advice. The photo is from 1970 and is literally filled with hairline cracks all over it - not to mention the fact that it is horribly faded and appears not to have been a focused snapshot to begin with. BUT, I've been asked to restore it, so I'm trying my best.

    I'm attaching the before/middle/after portion of the photo so you can see what I'm working with. (In the next post, I'll attach the entire photo.) As you can see, the "middle" version entailed replacing the green channel with the blue channel and adjusting the levels. That worked pretty well to get the colors somewhere near normal.

    The "after" version is after running the Decrack action about a dozen times - sometimes using "minimum" to remove the light cracks and sometimes using "maximum" to remove the dark cracks (which appeared when I tried to remove the light cracks.) As you can see, the dark areas look pretty good, but I just can't get the cracks out of the light areas. (And as you'll see in the attachment in the next post, the light areas cover more of the image than the dark areas.)

    I've also tried Jak's tutorial on "dust spotting large areas", but found that if I used "darken" to darken the white cracks, all of the black mold spots popped out. If I tried to "lighten", the white cracks showed back up.

    Does anyone have any other ideas other than cloning out all the cracks (which I'm sure will look awful anyway)?

    Thanks, Jeanie
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Here is the full version.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      OK, here's what I came up with... It's a very quick and dirty job, but I hope you can get an idea from this.

      First I ran decrack until the dark areas were fairly clean. It was about 3 times, and I only changed the high pass. Twice @ .3 and the last pass @ 1.5 and then flattened

      Then, on the remaining dark cracks left in the light areas, I did a copy and move just like in the tutorial. After selecting the area, I ran a quick mask/gaussian blur to soften the edges and then did copy via layer and moved. Switched to lighten blending mode. I did this several times on just small areas. I flattened after each move/blending change.

      Last, I made a new normal layer and painted lightly over any remaining problem with my brush set to 20% opacity, picking up colors from the closest surrounding areas.

      I only messed with this for about 10 - 15 minutes, so spending a bit more time on it should get better results for you.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        I knew you'd have a solution Jak! Thanks!

        I have a question about the high pass settings of the decrack action. Perhaps you don't know (given that you didn't write the action), but if the cracks are fairly large to begin with (and they are on my version of the photo since the client wants the photo enlarged - so I had to double the resolution when scanning ), why should I start with a setting of .3 rather than just go after the larger chunks to begin with. Doesn't the larger setting also get the smaller cracks, or is there something I don't understand about it? Can anyone enlighten me?



        • #5
          I'm glad it helped you out, Jeanie. That is one horrible image to have to fix - I don't envy you at all.

          I don't have any idea why decrack works the way it does. I just know I thought the same thing when I first tried to use it, and starting off with the larger settings never worked like I thought it should. I've only been able to get decrack to work the way I want it to when I start with the small settings and work up to larger... It also never works for me after I flatten it - I just have to leave all of the layers there till I'm done decracking...

          One thing I did forget to put in was that I sharpened the image using Jim Johnson's method from Retouching Challenge #1 which was:

          Duplicate image
          Switch to Lab mode
          Use unsharp mask on the L channel
          Copy the sharpened L channel to a new layer on the original RGB image and switch to Luminosity blending mode.


          • #6
            Thanks for that tip on the sharpening!

            Just so I understand about "leave all the layers there till I'm done" - you mean you continue to run the decrack action on JUST the "fixed" layer (which is essentially spots of everything that was fixed with holes in between)?



            • #7
              Luminosity sharpening can also be performed by simply duping the layer and setting the layer to luminosity mode. Alternativly directly after the USM then use the fade command and fade to luminosity (which is the same as duping the layer and blending in luminosity and then merging).

              More on sharpening can be found at my links page - this is a very deep subject:

              And for more information on High Pass filtering - then check out my links page which has two good links on this little discussed filter. High pass can help in many situations - it isolates fine detail or high frequency data and removes low frequency info from a file.

              High pass filtering can also be used to sharpen an image. Dupe layer/high pass(1-3 pix common)/blend in hard light or soft light or overlay modes at opacity from 10-50% common. There are other things which can be added to this technique, but this is rough method.

              Hope this helps.

              Stephen Marsh


              • #8
                Yep. Actually, I don't even usually look at the layers until I'm done. The decrack action activates the repaired layer (with holes in it) when it's done, so I just keep running decrack on the newest layer it automatically activates until it's the way I want it.


                • #9
                  Obviously I'm going to have to study the decrack action a little more to understand how it works because something isn't making sense to me - something about starting with a smaller high pass filter number and then continuing to run the action only on the "results" layer. Don't worry - I'll figure it out (I hope).

                  Thanks for those links Stephen!



                  • #10
                    If you want to apply sharpening to an image and do not want to switch to lab mode, here is yet another method to do so...

                    Unsharpen Mask settings:

                    Divide the output resolution by 200 and this determines your radius.
                    Threshold: Setting of 4-8 reduces graininess in flesh tones.
                    Adjusting amount: should result in the max perceived sharpness without any degredation noted.

                    Duplicate your image layer and apply a considerably higher amount of masking to the file than normal.

                    Go to Edit and select Fade Unsharpen Mask. Move the slider to 0 and change the mode to luminosity.

                    Use the slider to increase the percentage of the effect until the image's apparant sharpness is satisfactory and click OK.

                    This method results in a cleaner and cripser file with far fewer color irregularities than when masking is applied directly to the RGB or CMYK image.


                    • #11
                      What a great technique. That would be a great thread to start by itself in the tips forum here. Maybe you could even show some examples. I can't wait to try that one out myself. Sharpening techniques are high on the retouchers list of valuable tools.


                      • #12
                        Yeah, that one should definitely go in the tips forum. Thanks. There's another one I'll be trying soon.



                        • #13
                          Great, I'll do that