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Need help with a sun faded picture

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  • Need help with a sun faded picture

    I definitely got in over my head when I offered to do this for my mother in law. I'm hoping someone out there can help me. This picture is 27 years old and it has been discolored by the sun. It has a yellow cast over it, and the color is almost non existent.

    I've worked with restoring old photos (missing areas, scratches, cracks, etc. on Abode Photoshop 6.0, and now with 7.0, but I have never worked on photos that have been discolored this badly. I am at a total loss here. I don't want to desaturate the photo to remove the color because I'll just be left with a black and white photo, and Iwas hoping to restore the original photo back to it's original color (or try to at least).

    Will someone out there let me know where I can even begin? I do know my way around Photoshop, I just need to know how I can begin getting rid of the yellowish cast on this photo.

    I had the original photo scanned on a high resolution scitex scan, so the quality is great. The copy I've attached is on a low res.

    I hope someone can help me start this project.


    Attached Files

  • #2
    The trouble is going to be that it's not just a cast. Looking at the patch down in the bottom left where you can see some colour in the stripes, I compared the readings with the area above the damage where the colour "cast" is. In the light background between the stripes the results were Coloured area: R161 G156 B150, Cast area: R201 G187 B150 (i.e. to "fix" the colour you need slightly less red, slightly less green, and no change to the blue). In the bluish greenish stripe the results were Coloured area: R0 G98 B94, Cast area R159 G144 B105 (i.e. to "fix" the colour you need much much much less red, slightly less green, and very slightly less blue).

    So the "cast" hasn't affected all colours equally. So I think you're going to have to either mask off the different areas and use a separate adjustment layer for each colour or subset of colours in the original photo or (which realistically amounts to the same thing) desaturate and colourise to get as close as possible to the pre-fade colours. There are some very talented people on here who can colourise a photo back to what looks like the original.

    I know that isn't the answer you wanted to hear, and I hope someone else has a better answer for you, but based on my experimenting I'd say you've lost so much of the original colour data that your only real hope is to paint it back in.


    • #3
      I agree with Leah. There is not enough color left to justify spending the time to try to bring it back. Just for your information, Doug recently posted a tutorial on a quick fix for severe color cast in an image. This one's worth a look, being quick and easy, even though it isn't magic for every image.



      • #4
        Hi Peeper - and welcome to RetouchPro!

        I played with your photo for about 30 minutes trying everything I could think of to find some color information in there to work with. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any. For example, we know the stripes on the prayer shawl should be close to a bluish green because that's what we find in the non-faded area. But, in the faded area, the stripes appear to be nearly the same color as the jacket. Try as I might, I could not get any sort of color differentiation between the stripes and the jacket - and I doubt the jacket was a blue-green. Perhaps someone here will be able to find the original colors of the photo, but it's out of the realm of my abilities.

        Like Leah said, you're not just dealing with a color cast - you're also dealing with significant fading of the dyes and they have faded unevenly (a very common "affliction" of color photos from the 70's). In almost every such photo that I've worked on, I've restored it to B&W (using the channel mixer and sometimes multiply blending modes) to get the best possible B&W with the most detail. Then, I've painted the color back in. I know you don't want to hear it, but I don't know any other way around it with this photo.

        There are some very good colorization tips on this site:
        There have been a couple of retouching challenges (B&W-to-color) as well:
        Retouching Challenge #12
        Retouching Challenge #20
        It looks like most people gave a pretty good description of what they did to colorize, so find a few results that you like and then read how people accomplished them. In particular, I found the technique described in this entry for Challenge #20 to be very helpful.


        P.S. The technique described in the tutorial that Ed mentioned is one of the things I tried and had no luck with.


        • #5
          Thank you very, very much for your input everyone. I just may have to turn it into a black & white photo afterall.

          Thanks again!


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