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Help - bring out detail

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  • Help - bring out detail

    This shouldn't be that hard, but I'm having trouble bringing any detail out of this photo.

    It's very old and has a dull finish. The original is very dark.

    I tried scanning and printing without any tone or color adjustments and the result was awful to say the least.

    I don't think I'll have any trouble fixing the cracks and other damage, but I need to get the tone adjusted first.

    Any suggestions??

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I tried duplicating the layer and changing the mode to screen. That certainly lightened it - but it also showed that there just isn't much detail in the shadows to bring out. Not only that, but there is some uneven "fading" in the shadows that shows up when you try to lighten it. And the fading seems to be in all of the channels. I'm not sure how you would fix that without just "hiding" the uneven shadow areas in the shadow - which then gets you back to where you started from.

    I know that doesn't help much. Hopefully someone else will have a great solution that I'm just not seeing at the moment. In any case, don't feel bad that you're having trouble with it. It doesn't seem to be an easy fix to me!



    • #3
      I gave it a try, there's a lot of detail missing. I did run it through auto fx auto eye 2 and this is the best I could do..I'm new at this though.

      Attached Files


      • #4
        Thanks Jeanie - I thought I was missing something.

        Ken, that looks pretty good. I'm downloading Auto Eye and will see if I can reproduce your results.

        When I first looked at the picture, I thought it didn't look that bad until I scanned it and started trying to work with it. Just proves that you never know what to expect in this business.



        • #5
          Hi Margaret

          Had a quick go at your pic to see if I could help.

          You have got a lot of work to do on this one. This is what I done to bring out some detail.

          Opened up a adjustment layer in curves and moved the top of the curve to lighten up the picture and steepen the curve to bring it more to life.

          Then I ran a unsharp mask filter, to sharpen it up.

          To see what was in the dark shadows I selected a small part in the left hand corner, and used curves to lighten it.

          As you can see there is not much to work with, you could do some cloning to replace the parts that are missing.
          The last thing I did was converted to grayscale, then opened a adjustment layer in levels and adjusted the levels.

          Not much, but it may help.

          Attached Files


          • #6
            Thanks Terry,

            I will try what you suggest. I've been playing around with it more since I posted it too and no matter what I try, I haven't been able to get any good results.

            I think I may have to tell the customer not to waste their money on this one.



            • #7
              Depending on how important the picture is to your client, they may be happy with just the scratches cleaned up. You can still see all of the faces, which is the most important thing in my mind. (If the faces were all in shadow, then you'd really have a problem! ) As much as you'd like to make the photo "perfect", sometimes it's just not possible. So, you explain what is possible to the client and what isn't and see if they want you to go ahead with the work. The fact that you've got the faces mostly intact tells me that the client will most likely still want the scratches cleaned up - unless their initial instructions to you were to bring out the detail in the shadow. Sometimes we just get bad pictures to work with, but that doesn't mean we can't make them a little better and have the clients be happy - even though they're not "perfect".


              • #8
                A quick way to see how much detail is available is to invert. Maybe it's just me, but that seems to make it a lot more obvious.
                Learn by teaching
                Take responsibility for learning


                • #9
                  Wow - great tip Doug! I do think it's easier to see definition of highlights as opposed to shadow. Or perhaps that's just what the eye is drawn to look at. I learned to meter on the lightest part of a contrasty scene when taking photos since blown-out highlights can ruin a picture where as dark/undefined shadows are not as great an issue (depending on how much of the photo actually falls in shadow, etc.) So, it seems that inverting a dark photo would make the "problem" part of a photo easier to evaluate.



                  • #10
                    Thanks for the tip Doug - I tried it and sadly, in this case there is just no detail there at all.

                    I know what the customer wants to do with this photo and my advise to her is going to be "use it as it is"

                    I tried making various adjustments and printing it and none of the prints look better than the original so I'm going to leave it alone.

                    Thanks for all the help,


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