Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What Fun!

I've posted about a zillion pictures on this blog.

And I've talked about the old family photos I scanned on our trip to Louisiana right after Christmas.

And I've talked about how fun it is to manipulate photos, to correct them and whatnot, using Photoshop Elements.

The photos of my Dad in the Navy, that I posted yesterday, took a good bit of work to correct. They aren't perfect, but one was torn, and they just weren't in good shape.

But the difference of the photos from before and after has me totally hooked on the process of making them better.

For me, this is like having a new color photography darkroom. Only without the mess and chemicals.

The pics of my Dad from yesterday took a while to work on, but the difference from what they were as originally scanned is quite dramatic. It's fun, and the final output makes the whole process worthwhile.

In fact, it's quite addictive.

And the really fun photos to work with, are the old ones that are basically in good shape physically, but have shifted colors over the years. These photos only take about 5 or 6 different steps to make vast improvements in them.

Plus, if there isn't much to repair, like scratches, or marks, or tears, each photo only takes 2 or 3 minutes to generate a totally shocking change.

So today, I'm gonna leave you with two before-and-after photos from my childhood, that literally only took about 5 minutes to repair them both. So when a photo is in decent shape, just color shifted, the rejuvenation is quick as it is dramatic.


Wingnut said...

Great job! It is addicting isn't it? Thanks for the birthday wishes :)

Hammer said...

amazing. Is that a function or is there an outlined process and instructions?

Really excellent results.

Skittles said...

Oh my gosh.. what a difference!!!

JAM said...

Hammer, I use Photoshop Elements 4.0, which cost about $70. It's up to version 5.0 now, but it's a good alternative to the real Photoshop which costs several hundred dollars. If you are a pro, the high dollar one does more and is worth the extra money, but Elements is amazingly useful for a non-pro like me. It's a great program in it's own right. I chose it among the many other reasonably priced ones because there are many, many Elements how-to sites on the web, and many great how-to books on using it.

The one book I bought, which was worth it's weight in gold, was Scott Kelby's "The Photoshop Elements 4 Book for digital photograpers." In it, he shows how to do the most wanted processes on digital photos. But Mr. Kelby doesn't get into the theory on why the features work the way they do, he just gives you the exact, step-by-step on how to do this or that. It's what I used to learn to do most of what I do with Elements.

I use a three year old flatbed scanner for the print scans. It's an Epson Perfection 2400. It was only $100 when I bought it, and it is amazingly capable.

So, to do what I did on these two photos is not a function. It is a set of simple steps I do on each photo, and they are simple. It's what photographers refer to as "workflow." Everyone's workflow is a bit different. Like cooking. Some recipes state to mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet stuff in another and so forth. But you yourself might prefer to just dump it all in one big bowl and mix it all up. As long as it ends up the same, whichever way you prefer to do it is fine.

As I said in the text, these photos were in good shape, just color shifted.

Once they are scanned, I open them with Photoshop Elements, and:
1. Set a black point, a white point, and a gray point. This by itself creates the most dramatic change. If I did nothing but this, the photos would be 95% better.
2. I adjust the brightness and contrast, if needed.
3. I adjust the color saturation, if needed. Sometimes the colors have faded, and sliding the saturation contol for more saturated colors can go a long way to reviving lost color.
4. On flatbed scans like these, you invariably get some dust in the scan, and I use the dust and scratches control to get rid of most of them without making the photo fuzzy. This one is kinda touchy, and I may opt for a few dust specs rather than the slight fuzziness this control creates.
5. If need be, I use the healing brush to get rid of obvious spots, stains, etc., on the photo itself.
6. Finally, I use the unsharp mask feature of Elements to sharpen up the photo as much as I can. The need for this varies greatly from photo to photo, but is one of the best things about digital photo enhancing. Unsharp mask is the icing on the cake.

So, in the end, on the easier photos, like the ones I posted on this post, I set the black, white, and gray points, and the other steps may or may not be needed.

Doing all of this carried a huge learning curve, but once you get the hang of how to get the look you want, it's a breeze, just time consuming.

So, to scan print for which you have no negative or slide, there are fantastic flatbed scanners out there that don't cost very much. And personally, I'd recommend Photoshop Elements to manipulate your scans with.

I have written myself a few step-by-step processes when I first started all of this, so if you get something similar, I'd be glad to pass them on to you. Also, I'd certainly be willing to answer any detailed questions by email too.

It's one of those things that is fun to do, but also fun to pass the knowledge on along to others too.

Wingnut and Skittles, thanks. It's fun to me.

Hammer said...

Thanks for the getiled info. they have 5.0 on sale for $90 at the local store I'll go pick it up.

Thanks again. who knows how many photos you may have rescued.

Kent said...

Very nice photos. The difference is remarkable.

Up to this point, I've been too cheap to go out and spend money on Photoshop - Elements or otherwise.

I've used the open source image program GIMP 2 (GNU Image Manipulation Program) pretty successfully. From my experience, it seems to be a fairly complete program, especially because it's free. But, since I don't have much experience with Photoshop, I can't make a comparison.

Anybody used both? I've always wondered how they compare.

Once again, great job on the pictures.

Sparky Duck said...

uhoh your a photo shop junkie in the making

faustina said...

you have done a great job with these photos. I love to restore photos also. It feels like you are bringing the image to life. You have done a really great job, I don't see any difference from what you have done with elements and what I can do with cs2.