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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.
I know it sounds odd using color to neutralize color, but it really works. There is a pretty nifty trick that I call the Color Wheel principle. Remember the Color Wheel? The Color Wheel is an organization of colors hues around a circle with relationships between primary, secondary, and complementary colors. Complementary colors are located opposite one another on the wheel, orange opposite blue, red opposite green, etcetera. The Color Wheel principle is to use a complementary color over the color cast to neutralize it.
One way to use color to neutralize color is to use a Photo Filter Adjustment. Sometimes this works really well and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always worth at least to try. With your photos selected go to the Create New Filter Adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layer panel, and select Photo Filter. The Photo Filter dialog now appears in the Adjustments panel under the layers panel. Make sure the Preserve Luminosity Box is unchecked. Luminosity gives the photo filter a translucent look, otherwise it will look a bit hazy and just not as clear and sharp.
The first selection is Filter. With the radio button selected click on the dropdown menu, there is a long list of filter presets, click on the first one and scroll through all of them using your Downward Arrow key. Note the changes that they are making to your photos you're scrolling through them. You can continue to go through all your presets if you choose, but if you look at the Color Wheel you'll see that green to blue color filters are the complementary colors of red and orange cast, which this photo has a reddish cast.
So let's look at just primarily the blue filters right now. Let's go to Blue even Violets give that a try, down here to Deep Blue and let's just try Underwater, which is a turquoisey aqua look. I think we are going to go with that one right now. It didn't make the color cast go away completely but it lessened it a bit. We are not going to keep the photo filter adjustment so let's go up here to the dropdown menu, go to the bottom of the menu and choose Close Tab Group.
Now click on your layers tab to bring that backup and then go down here to your Visibility icon and click on it to hide that later. Reselect your Background layer and now I am going to show you another way to correct color balance by making your own color filter. Let's go down here in the bottom and choose Create a New layer and now you have a fresh blank layer above your background photo. Let's move over here to the toolbar on the left and select your Eyedropper tool and find an area of your photo that's fairly clear that a lot of pattern and sample the color with your Eyedropper tool.
Up here in the sky it looks pretty good so let's just click on that and you'll see the color is now your foreground color. Back in the layers panel click on your New Blank layer make sure it's selected, and let's fill it with that foreground color by either going up to your Edit menu and selecting Fill layer and choosing Foreground Color, or by choosing Alt on a PC, option on a Mac plus Backspace. Now I'll go back down to the bottom of the panel and choose the Create a New Filter layer Adjustment icon and select Invert.
Let's go back to the layers panel and check out what happens here. This adjustment has inverted the color to its complementary color. The only problem is its inverted everything in the layer stack including your background photo. To fix this with the Invert Adjustment selected choose Ctrl on a PC or Command on a Mac + E to merge the two layers. With the now merged fill layer active, let's go up to the layer Blend mode dropdown menu and select Soft Light.
Go up to your Opacity slider and bring it down, if you like if it's a little much for you and just play with it and see what you like best, I think we're actually just going to keep it at 100%, come back down here to your Fill layer and let's see if that made a difference. It's still got a color cast but it lessened it a little. Let's go back to the Create a New Filler Adjustment layer and select Levels. Use the black-and-white eyedroppers on the darkest and lightest points in the photo, we will take the black and we'll choose, let's go over here, beside the house and try that, and let's get our white eyedropper and go right here on the window frame and that took to red out pretty much.
If you don't like this result, again you can go to the layers panel and play with the Opacity. Bring it down, let's say all about 65%, and now let's look at the before and after. Still not perfect but it's a vast improvement. Photo Restoration fixes for things like color cast are rarely one-click fixes. Sometimes often in fact we need to build upon little improvements rather than getting a miracle fix with one click of a button.
Fixing a color cast problem with an overlay or a complementary color may be the answer or it may be a step on the way to the answer, either way it's worth the time to check it out.
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