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In Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos, professional photo restorer Janine Smith shows how to bring new life to old photos. The course begins with a look at the types of photos that may require restoration, including slides, negatives, prints, and newspaper photos, and options for scanning them. She discusses the types of scanners that are available, from flatbed to film, and the best settings to use for originals. The course then delves into Photoshop Elements tools and techniques to help restore clarity to faded photos and fix problems such as dust, scratches, and tears. Exercise files are included with the course.
The Enhance menu in Photoshop Elements 9 gives us a few options when it comes to color correction in the form of some auto buttons. Some of them may work better than others and some may require further work to get the result you're looking for, but you should give them a try on each individual photo you work on. The first thing to do before working with the Enhance menu is to duplicate your original layer. The options in the Enhance menu are not adjustment layers and the results will be on the layer you working on itself. So duplicate the original. This time, I'll duplicate using keyboard shortcut Command+J or Ctrl+J. Be sure to double-click on layer 1 and rename your layer.
I'll name this one Mom and click next to it to set it. Going into the Enhance menu, the first thing you'll see is Auto Smart Fix. Let's click on that. There's definitely some improvement and it's always good to try just don't stop there. There's no Reset button for the adjustments we make in the Enhance menu, so you'll either need to duplicate the original layer again especially if you want to keep the results in each step to compare later or by using keyboard shortcut Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to undo the Auto Smart Fix correction.
Let's do that right now using Ctrl+Z or Command+Z. The second option in the Enhance menu is Auto Levels. You see it does a pretty good job for the most part, but tends to render the correction a bit dark. It's still worth a try and may work especially well if you have a very light photo that needs color correction. Again, let's use Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to go back to the original. Again, in the Enhance menu, the third option is Auto Contrast. Let's click that and see what it does. We see it does just what it supposed to do which is darken and define areas or improve the contrast, but it doesn't do anything to remove the colorcast.
So again, let's do Command+Z or Ctrl+ to get back to the original. Let's go back to the Enhance menu and choose Auto Color Correction. It does get rid of the red colorcast, but seems to be a little heavy on the blue side now. One thing that's worth trying in a case like this is to take the Opacity down on your duplicate layer to let some of the original colorcast show through. Let's take this down to all about 65%, and see that lighten the blue up a little bit just by letting the original red show through.
In this case if you want to back to the original, click on your layer and hit Ctrl+Z twice to get back to the original. Let's go back to the Enhance menu one more time and down to Adjust Color. The first item on the menu is Remove Color Cast. Select that and you'll see a dialog box pops up and at the bottom you see an eyedropper. The instructions tell us to click on an area of the photo which should be grey, white or black and the Elements will adjust the image based on where you click.
There is a Reset button here, so you can keep trying until you get the result you like. Let's go and find a black area. Let's try this down here in the foliage and click on that. In this particular photo clicking on the black area moves the red colorcast only to replace it with a blue cast. Let's try a white area somewhere here in the uniform. The white areas work better, but the results are still less than perfect. However, it is one more tool to try. While, these auto buttons may not be a magic bullet, they're definitely worth your time to try.
At the very least, you can eyeball the result and get some idea of what you think might make the color correction better. So in that way, these three auto features might prove a great starting place. Sometimes the results might surprise you and they maybe closer to a magic bullet than you think.
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