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How do I improve image quality?

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  • How do I improve image quality?


    I have tried to restore the photo below and attached a b/w and sepia version.

    I would like the photo to be clearer without so much noise if possible. I also seem to be getting it too dark or too bright, which looks terrible. Is this called silvering, which causes this. I feel I can not get the contrast/depth correct.

    As you can see somebody has been cut out the photo as their arm/hands can still be seen around the girl's waist. I tried to take them out.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: How do I improve image quality?

    I don't know what level you are on with photoshop so forgive me if I insult your intelligence. First, getting an image this old to look like new is difficult if not impossible. To remove noise, there are a number of ways to do it but I would recommend two. I use the plug in app Neat Image which works pretty well. If you have CS2 you can use the Surface Blur which can also be quite effective. If I am correct, I think it is better to correct black and whites in a colorspace other than grayscale. It is also helpful to take care of noise sooner rather than later since your corrections will most likely enhance the noise that is there.

    It also doesn't appear that you have used the unsharp mask filter which is very helpful as the final step of a correction. There are more complicated ways of using USM instead of the standard way and I'm not sure if you know those or not. One thing you can do is make a copy if you are in RGB of the image and change it to CMYK and then use the black channel as a layer mask on the layer where you do the sharpening.

    Regarding lightening or darkening the image it is important that you set proper highlights and shadows in your image before you get into the corrections. You can just scroll over the image and look at the values or you can use the threshold adjustment layer as an easy way to find these. You have to make sure that the highlights and shadows you choose are significant and not parts of the image that you don't care about blowing out or plugging.

    I don't know if you understand any of this so go ahead and ask me about anything you don't understand.


    • #3
      Re: How do I improve image quality?

      I gave this a quick try. I like to let people know up front that I do this as a hobby only--in other words my work flow leaves much to be desired.

      1. Focus Magic
      2. Cloned in missing areas followed by the healing brush
      3. Removed the hands from the one child
      4. Took a history snapshot of finished work and then blured 2.1 pix. and then took a snapshot of blured image. Using the history brush set to lighten or darken tried to clean up the skin tones and image.
      5. Did an auto levels (Click options first to set these two items) with the Snap to midtones selected and Enhance Per Channel contrast.

      This was done in CS2 and I used a Wacom graphics tablet.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Re: How do I improve image quality?

        just did the tone correction
        1)layer>new layer>edit>fill use 50%gray make sure the preserve transparency box is unchecked>change blending mode to difference
        2)new adjustment layer>threshold move the slider all the way left then slowly back until you see your first black then mark it using color sampler tool
        3)trash the 2 previous layer
        4)you now have neutral gray go to image>adjust>curves in the curves box use the middle the middle eyedropper and click on your eyedropper mark
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: How do I improve image quality?

          Maybe try this as well:

          1. Change to Lab color. Image>Mode>Lab Color

          2. View the channels. Delete both the A and B channels leaving the lightness channels.

          3. Change the image back to grayscale. Image>Mode>Grayscale

          4. Adjust levels.

          What you'll get is the image without all the color as a good neutral starting point to begin your restoration. The thing I notice though is that there seems to be a lot of crackle pattern probably from the paper of the picture that you'll have to figure out how to deal with.

          Maybe a more detailed scan to start with would help. But in lieu, try this:

          1. Duplicate the result from the previous process into a new layer. Use CS2's Reduce Noise filter to something that removes the paper pattern without losing too much detail.

          2. To keep the image as crisp as possible, duplicate the original layer and apply the Find Edges filter to it and then also use a slight Gaussian Blur filter. Take the result and create a mask on the layer you Reduced Noise on by copying the Find Edges layer into the mask channel of the Reduce Noise layer.

          This should keep your edges sharp but help reduce the crackle pattern.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            Re: How do I improve image quality?


            Thanks for all the replies. I see how important it is to get the shadows and highlights sorted first before any other corrections.

            I will try practice your workflows to get this right and take notes for other images.




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