No announcement yet.

Restoring damaged color photos

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Restoring damaged color photos

    This is something that I have found myself doing as part of my normal work flow, it doesn't always work and I am not sure it was necessary in the example I've attatched (I had a hard time finding a good image to use as an example - I don't feel comfortable posting customers photos without their permission).

    These are the two different situations I find it really really helpful:

    1)I am having a hard time getting the delicate tonal seperation I want "so badly"...

    Even if I could do this all in the original, I find it easier to see tonal relationships in B&W, so i duplicate the image twice - keep one in rgb, convert the other to lab. Then I look at the different channels and adjust the channels with layers or curves or blend them with channel blender without regard for the color shift. Net result is to combine/blend/mask the b&w channels to make the best b&w image.

    Then bring the b&w image into the original on it's own layer, change blending mode of layer to luminosity.

    2)The original photo is soooo damaged that the color imformation makes it harder to work on.

    Same process as above, but do restoration on b&w image. Deal with retouching of colors once detail of image is repaired. This is only worth doing on real bad photos since changing the brightness will change the color saturation and require additional work on the color - but is worth it on photos where the color damage hides the shape and makes it harder to work on the photo.

    This has also been a wonderful way to help "learn" a photo, to figure out what might be the best thing to do ...

    Attached Files

  • #2

    I'm having trouble following what you're saying - and I really want to understand it!

    I agree that it's much easier to see tonal relationships in B&W. And I follow you as far as having two copies of the image - one in RGB and one in Lab.

    When you say that you "look at the different channels and adjust the channels with layers or curves or blend them with channel blender without regard for the color shift. Net result is to combine/blend/mask the b&w channels to make the best b&w image." I'm not quite sure I understand what you're doing. Are you working on the channels in both copies? I.e., the RGB and Lightness channels? Or only on the L channel? Though when you say "without regard for the color shift", it sounds as though you're working on the individual RGB channels.

    OK, now as I'm reading this for the umpteenth time, it sounds like you're working with all possible information to make the best B&W possible. You choose to do this with various blending modes and masks on a combination of the RGB & L channels - but essentially any method that gives you a B&W that you're happy with will work, right?

    Then, use that B&W to layer on top of the original image in luminosity mode to in effect apply the tonal separation you just achieved in the B&W.

    I completely agree with your observation in #2. I have had to work to restore an image first in B&W, then add the color after the repair was done more times than I would have liked. But, I have found that my results are better with that technique than any other I've tried.

    OK, I'm going to try to find a photo that will fit situation #1 and see if I understand as much as I think I do.

    Thanks for this tip BTW!



    • #3
      Hi Jeanie!

      Yes! On color photos that just don't seem to have the delicate seperation that I want - make the best b&w then bring into a layer (in luminosity mode) over the color image. Usually I am doing this with scanned negatives, I have an epson 1680 with silverfast, but I still have problems getting good scans from some negatives ...

      This works with some restorations also, especially if I want to work with the colors that are in the photo rather than recoloring.

      Attached is these steps with Challenge 31, I think it is a pretty good example. I found it much easier to see the shape of her face for repair in B&W than in color. More work is needed to blend the colors in the face, remove the blue colors in her skin, color balance, change the color of her hair, etc. (this example is just the steps I described above).

      This is not so much a technique, but different way of thinking that can be applied to many different situations!

      Thanks for saying Hi

      Attached Files
      Last edited by roger_ele; 05-04-2003, 12:51 PM.


      • #4
        Wow - that example really shows what you're describing well! I understand clearly what you're talking about now. Working with the colors in a photo will save me literally hours of time!

        I know what you mean about scanning negatives - very frustrating for me too!

        Thanks again,


        • #5
          Very good, Roger. I've tried doing something similar with two color versions (one with good definition, the other with good color), but your method seems much better. I just hope I can remember to do this the next time.

          BTW, very nice work on the B&W in your restoration example. Looks like a lot of hand work on it. But if a good portion of this was filter work, I'd love to hear how you did it.


          • #6

            It is all hand work, going back and forth with the clone tool across areas where there is a gradation after removing the obvious spots. Not along the shadow line but accross it so that a line turns into a gradual transistion. You have to be carefull to use a small and soft enough brush (and keep an eye on the original) so that the shape of the face doesn't change. By doing it this way it is actually less work than it appears - but requires a delicate touch.

            This idea of adjusting the image in b&w shows off the advantage of thinking of the luminosity and the color as two seperate things ... I am wondering if there is a concept that can take advantage of the difference between hue and saturation, maybe not used in this way but in some other way? Anyone? I know I am waxing philosophical but from "ideas - concepts - kinda understanding" ... springs techniques ...



            • #7
              hi all !

              Hi all !

              I'm a newbie about retouche image and sorry for my terrible English . I'm very interesting about this .
              My problem seems like that . But I'm not sure I understood what you said when restore color
              on a destroyed-image

              1/ Convert it into Grayscale (B&W image ) .

              2/Re-paint photo with airbrush/paint brush tool and focus tool

              3/Colorize image .

              It's right ? correct me if I'm wrong .

              I have a very old image here , it's very...very badly and maybe can I ask you how can repair and color it ? BTW, I've apllied all the filter for dust & crash but could not result .

              Many thanks .



              Related Topics


              • tjsgarden
                Why Use Greyscale?
                by tjsgarden
                I am new at photo restoration but sincerely trying to learn the art and skills of photo manipulation.
                I notice a lot of individuals convert color and b&w images to greyscale before making adjustments. I am confused about this operation. What is the advantage and why do many individuals make...
                03-20-2002, 09:57 AM
              • Relli
                Old damaged/stained photo
                by Relli
                Thank you mistermonday and lurch for advising me to re post my message from Salon (which is not for talking about retouching etc... sorry.)

                Hi Everyone, I'm a newby from Aussie! A friend has given me Photoshop CS2 (an older version, I know...) and I have been playing around...
                04-13-2010, 06:26 AM
              • peejayw
                Getting some pizazz into BW coversion
                by peejayw
                I am very new to PS but love the effect of coverting a photo to BW by desaturateing it then using the history brush to paint back in colour in specific areas. Problem is, how do I make the BW part of the photo more dynamic, contrasty etc without affecting the colour part?
                06-18-2008, 02:47 AM
              • Guest's Avatar
                Interchannel Color Correction
                by Guest
                Although this is a very old technique and this sample chapter online is 18 years old I wonder if interchannel color correcting with the Apply Image command on channels is obsolate or it's worthwhile going deeper into it anyway.

                "Rather than working with Adjustment Layers, Chris does...
                04-11-2017, 03:17 PM
              • Don
                Newspaper Photo
                by Don
                Can anything be done to a newspaper photo to make it look like a real photo.
                This is a copy from a newspaper in the 1930's.
                This is the only photo my client has of her grandfather.
                Any suggestions would be helpful.


                10-21-2002, 05:24 PM