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Color Fade driving me crazy

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  • Color Fade driving me crazy

    I'm working on the only picture I have of my faternal Grandfather. It is a color picture that has faded very badly. It appears that the color fade is not consistant across the picture. Some areas seem to have a different balance. I've gone cross-eyed trying to balance this image. I think the suit is grey and of course the shirt is white so this should be easy but it's not working like it should. I've gotten a mental block now as what should work to restore the correct color.

    Anyone help me break this slump I've fallen into?
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Hi Kevin,

    Is this the kind of thing you're looking for?

    You're right - the color fade does not seem to be even at all. I used levels and hue/saturation adjustment layers separately for the face, jacket/shirt and background. First I did a levels adjustment (lots of playing with the middle slider) to get more realistic skin tones. Of course, the rest of the image looked terrible, so I made the layer mask affect just the head.

    Loaded the selection of the layer mask and inverted. Then I used a levels adjustment using the gray dropper on the jacket.

    Unfortunately, this seemed to make the tree gray as well. Soooo, I added a hue/sat adjustment layer and checked the colorize box, then adjusted until I liked the green. Again, used a layer mask so that it only affected the tree.

    I managed this much in about 15 minutes. It's not perfect, but hopefully it will get you started. Don't you just love working on these old color photos? NOT!!


    P.S. Let me know if you want more detail on exact values I used for the adjustment layers.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Jeanie, you've done it again. That is just the info I was needing. Don't know why I wasn't getting that. It seems so clear now. DUHHHH! I don't know why the different levels of fading came to be because she said it was stored in a photo album.

      This will get me back on track. Thanks again.

      Every time I hear someone say that inkjet prints don't last I want to tell them I have some good old fashion traditional prints I want to show them.


      • #4

        It looks like the Red channel is faded the most... If you correct with a standard level adjustment he ends up with a blue face. I then just used the replace color command to select the blues and replaced it with a skin tone. I had to correct the color of the foliage back to green using a color balance adjustment layer...not perfect yet by any means, but hopefully it can help steer you in the right direction.

        Jeanie - I think you took the opposite approach...correcting for the skin tones first and then correcting the rest of the image. I always love how there are a seemingly endless number of ways to arrive at the same result in Photoshop!
        Attached Files


        • #5
          One way to look at severe tonal/colour restoration is at separating the colour from tone.

          Retouching or painting in luminance or colour blend modes or in L or AB of LAB or in other modes which separate colour from tone may be a lot easier than working in modes such as RGB and CMYK where colour and tone are found in each channel and are not separate.

          Not sure if this will help in this situation, but looking at the job as a moderate hard grayscale retouch (L channel) and two very easy grayscale retouches (AB channels) may just be what is needed.

          Stephen Marsh.


          • #6
            Thanks Greg. There are more than one way this time but only 2 of them worked, yours and Jeanie's. Your efforts look real good too. I don't know why I didn't think to treat the seperate areas different, even though I knew that the fading was not even across the image. Your idea to add color to the skin areas will help too.

            I've been begging my relatives to give me access to pictures of my family. Now I get them and get stumped on the first few. I've got a real tough one next. It is faded just like this one but I am having to ask someone to tell me what colors the diferent elements are supposed to be. This one has a frame shadow because it still faded where the frame edges protected it but not to the degree that the exposed areas did.


            • #7
              Thanks Stephen, I'll have to give that a try. That will be interesting as I haven't tried that before. No better time than the present. What you say seems very likely. A new way to approach color correction.

              Thanks Stephen.


              • #8
                Kevin, Dan Margulis has written about this in his books and other places:

                I like to stay in RGB and use luminance or colour blend modes where possible, but sometimes you just can't beat LAB (or HSB, HSI, LCH etc).

                One of the big conceptual leaps of knowledge that I gained was learning to look at image editing as editing three/four separate grayscale channels (that is how the computer sees things). The Russell Brown 'Digital Stain Remover' PDF is a good example of this (red stain on a painting being corrected by each separate RGB channel). It can sometimes make things a lot easier than the colour composite view. Another important bit of knowlege was separating colour from tone in edits.

                If it does not help here, try it on some other images - it is a very useful concept.

                Stephen Marsh.


                • #9
                  Hi all

                  I have been working on this for 3 hours, this is the final and best try. I will have to study the other methods mentioned also.

                  Jeanie, yours knocks my socks off for having a natural gradation, my dark areas in the bushes just went to black.

                  What I did;

                  -levels adjustment layer to remove color cast
                  -Hue/sat adjustment layer with these settings
                  ---Yellow: Lightness +53
                  ---Magenta: Hue +89

                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Hi Roger,

                    I wasn't able to get the detail back in the bushes either. Jeanie must have a special knack. I spent more than 15 minutes too. Your work looks great Roger too.

                    Here is my progress so far. I think I am almost through, I need to work more on the facial areas. I'm not satisfied with the eyes and mouth. I'm going to see if I can smooth the skin out a little. Just getting this far was a major ordeal. Was most appreciative of the help you guys gave me.
                    Attached Files


                    • #11

                      Looks wonderfull! I went back and changed my levels and hue/sat layers to color blending modes. Then did a levels adjustment on top of those layers, it looked better with some detail in the shadows. I will have to follow Jeanie's steps...

                      Yours looks great!



                      • #12
                        I also followed Jeanie's method,but added a brightness & contrast adj.I,ve been away for awile,so please advise.
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          Hi Don, your efforts look very close to Jeanie's. I'm going to work on this one a little bit more but I am fairly satisfied with the outcome. I want to do more with the skin.

                          Thanks Roger for the compliment. What bothers me about Jeanie's work was she got there in 15 minutes. Wish that I could make major corrections that fast. I usually get the job done but not in that time frame.


                          • #14
                            Hi Stephen, I read the article by Dan Margulis. That is a mode I haven't tried yet. It is very interesting and I have played around with it some this evening. The concept of what the three LAB channels do is kind of far out there if you are used to working only in RGB. I'm going to spend more time with this and see if I can apply it to restoration. It seems like this mode can do things that RGB and CMYK cannot. Thanks for sharing that information.


                            • #15
                              What bothers me about Jeanie's work was she got there in 15 minutes. Wish that I could make major corrections that fast.

                              Let me just say that I was surprised at how fast this one went too. To be honest, most photos like this take me a LOT longer to do - and some I'm never happy with. I just lucked out with this one I guess.



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