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Hoping To Revive Old Red Photo Proofs


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#1 CindyLuWho

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 04:45 PM

Long ago in a photography studio far, far away...

My mother had her wedding portraits made (1959). Because money was tight, she didn't buy many portraits but the studio gave her the proofs, which were printed in such a way that they color shifted over the years (if that's the right term). Now, they are darkening and very reddish.

My best guess for reviving them is to scan them ASAP, and then take them into PSE (that's all I've got) and try to work some magic. But... before I expose them to the blinding light of the scanner, I wanted to get some insight from the wise SG photo experts.

Any tips on scanning in a way other than normal?

Any tips on what to do in PSE?

Any tips on, well, anything?

I figure we have one shot at scanning them and then they will be too dark to try again. I think the light exposure causes them to darken.

Thanks!

Cindy

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#2 BarbaraC1977

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:04 PM

I have revived some dark red photos, and been pretty pleased. You may end up changing them to sepia, chocolate or black & white tones, but they'll be lighter and clearer. If you have a sample you can upload, I'll see how I would begin, if that helps.

I have a book on photo restoration and retouching that's been very helpful. It's written for PSP, but the techniques are completely transferrable to PS or PSE.

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#3 Smiles

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 07:35 PM

You might try taking a picture of one of the prooofs using a stand and available light. I don't know if the scanner would darken them or not. My dad used to have pretty good luck making "copy negatives" of photographs years ago. He had little stand that held the camera steady at a set distance from the photo.
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#4 SandiC.

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:10 AM

I think Gayle's idea of photographing them before scanning is a good one. I'm not familiar with what can be done in PSE, but in PS I can go into channels and see which color channel gives the best image and then make it B&W. Then sepia can be done as well. Photo restoration is a fascinating topic and I would love to get better at it.
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#5 CRS

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 08:36 AM

I don't have any suggestions for you, but I wanted to wish you luck!

#6 CindyLuWho

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 10:26 AM

Awesome... I appreciate all the great input. I have to get the proofs from Mom now... You all have given me hope that it's possible to "redeem" them after all!

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#7 CindyLuWho

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 10:30 AM

I have revived some dark red photos, and been pretty pleased. You may end up changing them to sepia, chocolate or black & white tones, but they'll be lighter and clearer. If you have a sample you can upload, I'll see how I would begin, if that helps.

I have a book on photo restoration and retouching that's been very helpful. It's written for PSP, but the techniques are completely transferrable to PS or PSE.



Oh, thank you so much for the offer! As soon as I get hold of the proofs and either take a picture of them or scan them, I will give you a holler!

Cindy

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#8 Smiles

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 11:36 AM

If there is a proof that's not really a "keeper," I would experiment on it first.
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#9 PBarnes

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 01:33 PM

That's a really good suggestion, Gayle!

I've dabbled with photo restoration in PSE but haven't encountered any prints that were way red. I'll bet you can do quite a bit with them though. Good luck.

There are some good books on photo restoration written for PSE too.

#10 kerryveale

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:46 PM

It's good you're doing something right now so that you capture them before they degenerate further...

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#11 CindyLuWho

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

It's good you're doing something right now so that you capture them before they degenerate further...


Hey, Kerry! Yes, definitely... I need to do something now. I've known about the red wedding proofs for years, but had no avenue for improving them. It was more of a "let's take a picture now so we have something before it gets worse" but there was nothing I knew to do to really salvage them and make them look normal. But now, with digital scrapping and PSE, I feel *EMPOWERED* (cue the victorious trumpet music). hahaha

I told Mom it was time to pull the proofs out and let me have a go at them. Her response: "Ummm, I have to find them."

Oh boy.

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#12 Sherry Lynn

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:51 AM

I don't have any advice but I am watching this thread because I also have some photos that need help.

I can't wait to see how they come out --- good luck!
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#13 DaveUK

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 01:59 PM

Hi Cindy!

The proofs should be ok to be scanned - the light won't hurt them for the length of time they'll be in the scanner! Some things that might help:-


The red cast is indicative of the lack of blue and green tones in the image. So, you would need to look to increasing the amounts of blue and green tone to restore the colours. In some cases, a straight use of the "Auto Levels" might be enough to bring them to a point where you can work a bit further on them in time.

If the colours won't recover to your liking then, as other SG's have said, go for a Black & White or Sepia tone. The separation of tones in BW and Sepia are more apparent and should recover most of the tonal detail in these cases.

Some proofs, especially older prints, may have the word 'PROOF' or a proof number printed or embossed into them somewhere. Some clever use of the clone and healing brushes may be required.


One last tip. If you have an image that won't fully recover the colour, but will recover part of it, you could try a split-toning technique where part of the image is colour and the rest BW. (This sometimes works well with bridal bouquets, or buttonholes etc)


Hope this helps. Do let us all know how you get on!
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#14 BarbaraC1977

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 05:19 PM

It sounds like Dave & I are on the same page.

For my 35th college reunion (which I didn't get to attend after all of this,) I created a slide show with photos provided by a number of classmates. I usually work in PSCS4 now, and am no longer as adept in PSE, but since you use it, Cindy, I did some comparisons with a reddish photo. It's not as red as what you're probably looking at, but I think it will give you some ideas. (The picture is a group of folks on a roof, and is of interest to people who went to MIT back in the mid-70s. Probably not of interest to anyone else.)

Original: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_0.jpg   440.92KB   3 downloads, PSE Smart Fix, Automatic: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_1_SmartFixAuto.jpg   496.51KB   3 downloads

PSE Color Correction Automatic: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_2_ColorAuto.jpg   492.58KB   2 downloads. Not bad, but we can do better.
Deep Blue photo filter at 50% density: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_3_DeepBlue50%.jpg   460.34KB   2 downloads

PSE Layer, New Adj Layer, Levels. Selected Red, then Green, then Blue channels. Moved end sliders to end of histogram, and tweaked center sliders a little for each. Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_4_LevelsAdjRGB.jpg   517.77KB   5 downloads This one is much better, but sampled is still better.

PSE Layer, New Adj Layer, Levels. Sampled White, Black and Grey points from image: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_5_LevelsSampling.jpg   533.9KB   6 downloads *** the winner!

PSE Layer, New Adj Layer, Levels. Auto Adjustment: Attached File  70s_PianoWagner_6_LevelsAuto.jpg   488.75KB   5 downloads, again, not bad, but not the best.

In this case, sampling is the clear winner, to me. Since your photos are wedding pictures, Cindy, I think you'll at least have great whites and blacks to sample, and possibly grays. All told, this didn't take long. Easiest way to do it is to make duplicate layers of the original, try an adjustment technique. Then turn the adjustment and the adjusted layer off, and try another on the next copy. That way you can compare them non-destructively.

Good luck! Can't wait to see your pictures.

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#15 CindyLuWho

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 09:51 PM

Dave and Barbara: WOW WOW WOW! Thank you both for the loads of helpful hints! I will carefully pick apart your tips when I get to take a crack at those wedding proofs. You've both given me incredible help, and because I still consider myself a newbie, I got lost on some of what you said, but once I get down to working on it, I will poke around PSE until I find all those little levels and things! I learn more by poking around and trying (and "undo"ing) than any other way!

I just had a brain flash - I think I remember that Mom's wedding proofs were not color in the first place. They were B&W. But they were kind of red from the beginning; I'm guessing it's kind of like bluelines used to be (I don't think ANY PRINTER uses bluelines anymore, do they?). So converting to B&W or Sepia will be the way to go, since full color was never there anyway.

Also, at a family birthday get-together last weekend, I brought up the topic of the wedding proofs, and my brother said that sometime in the last 20 years, he scanned them. "WHAT?! Find them, please!" He said he's going to have to dig deep and see if he still has the scans. Who knows how many times he's changed computers - hope he's done a complete transfer of files each time!

Anyway, thanks again for ALL those great tips!

Cindy

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