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What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

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  • What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

    I didn't think this photo would be that hard to retouch. But, I have tried every recommendation I could find and, as you can see, my attempts have failed. I can't seem to find the right colors to make it less "brown". Then I correct that and the skin tones are off. AArrggghh! Am I trying to apply too many corrections?
    Thanks for all your help!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

    Hi dwolfe welcome to RetouchPro.

    It is possible that you are trying to apply too many corrections, however I think that it is more likely that you need to target areas by masking which may help.

    Colour film and prints of the 60's tended to be not as saturated as more modern materials. That plus the fact that many D&P houses were not too good further compounds the problem. So I suppose it depends on how you want the image to look - near to how originally printed or a more modern bright saturated look? I went for the former (or at least how I imagined it!) with a quick play. You should spend as much time as needed to get the 'look' you want but I hope this may get you started
    • As the image is quite flat using a curves layer you could try Auto correct. This should get you fairly close to a reasonable colour balance overall - maybe a little tweaking of colour concentrating on the front row
    • Make a selection of the second row of people and add a curves layer. Adjust curves to get a pleasing result trying to match the front row.
    • Do the same for the rear row and also adjust contrast and brightness to get closer to other rows
    • Discoloration on the upper part of the image can be removed by using a colour layer and sampling a good area and painting over stain parts
    • A little dodge and burn to the upper part of the image to even out density
    • If required another curves layer to adjust overall balance and colour saturation.

    I did not spend much time on this but with a little more care and finesse it should work out quite well for you
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Re: What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

      I tried to lift the people from the background with an inverse overlay edit coupled with a gaussian blur.

      It's a rough file and so are my results. That's the problem with small files constantly being jpeg compressed back and forth.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Re: What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

        Hi dwolfe

        Here is my attempt.

        - Use Curves adjustment Layer using black, gray, white eyedroppers for intiial tone and color adjustment
        - Use same or second Curves adjustment Layer to tune in skin tone
        - I added a touch of vibrance
        - Then desaturated the top portion of the image just a bit with Hue/Sat adjustment Layer and a gradient mask

        All of this may have had a better result through ACR or Lightroom yet did not give that a shot.

        I did not like the results of the boys pants on the left side yet that could be due to color reflection from the carpet for part of the issue.


        Hope this gives you some ideas just like the previous posts by Tony and Tom.


        • #5
          Re: What am I doing wrong with faded photo?

          Here is another try.
          Color face & clothing after bringing it to screen.
          Attached Files