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Color Correction

Digital Color Correction

This photo of Jared had faded seriously over time. You can see the yellow oval shape that indicates the area that wasn't covered by the mat.  Before the digital era, the best you could do on your own was to re-photograph the picture on black and white film before the image faded away to nothing.

Digital imaging has changed all of the old limitations. Using ADOBE PHOTOSHSOP software, I began by going to IMAGE > ADJUST > HUE/SATURATION. I selected the color yellow and moved the HUE slider to eliminate as much of the yellow oval as possible. I move the SATURATION slider to the left to desaturate the yellow, and I moved the LIGHTNESS slider to the right. The right combination of settings eliminated the yellow oval.

I again went to HUE/SATURATION and this time chose MASTER (all colors) and moved the slider to get as close to a normal skin tone as possible. I further refined the skin tones by going to IMAGE > ADJUST > COLOR BALANCE and moving the three sliders.

Next I went to IMAGE > ADJUST > AUTO LEVELS which brought the whole image much closer to pleasing, natural colors and tones.

We are now much closer to a normal looking photo. A little more use of HUE SATURATION and COLOR BALANCE tweaked the image some more.  All of this took less than 15 minutes. Now for the more difficult part

The blue and green have to be added back to the image since these colors are effectively gone from the faded original.

I used the MAGIC WAND to select the faded blue area of Jared's clothes. I refined the selection in QUICK MASK. Then I copied the selection to a NEW LAYER . I chose a blue color with the COLOR PICKER (double click on the foreground square to get the color picker).  I then chose a PAINTBRUSH set to 50% OPACITY and set the Mode to MULTIPLY and painted over Jared's top to bring back the blue color. I varied the OPACITY of this layer to get the desired final effect

I selected the dark background trees using the same method, copied the trees to a new layer, and then turned them green in the same way I turned Jared's top blue.  The edges of the trees are less defined than Jared's top so I hid the inaccurate edges by softening them with FILTER > BLUR > GAUSSIAN BLUR.  All of this took about 45 minutes.

I did a little more tweaking of the colors in each layer using IMAGE > ADJUST > COLOR BALANCE and saved the image in Photoshop format with all of the layers intact so I can go back and do a little more work at some future date.

One hour's work restored much of the precious image of our son!

Most image editing software of good quality would allow you to make the changes that I illustrate above.  If you are looking for image editing software and are willing to spend about $100, I would recommend ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS which has many of the features of the much more expensive ADOBE PHOTOSHOP.

January 4, 2002

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