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Most of the time we can figure out the darkest and lightest points in the photograph by just looking at it, but that may not be easy if the whole photograph is faded and that makes it harder to find points to use the Levels Eyedropper. There's an adjustment in Photoshop Elements 9 that can help you find those black-and-white points. With your faded photos selected go to the layer menu, New Adjustment layer, Threshold or you can go over to the create new fill or adjustment layer icon and go to Threshold.
Threshold nondestructively converts your photo into black-and-white and allows you to find the black-and-white points. When you select Threshold the new adjustment layer will appear in your layer stack and the histogram will appear in the Adjustments panel under the layers panel. Note that there's only one slider under the histogram. To find the white point move the slider all the way to the right, the entire photograph turns black, don't panic remember this is nondestructive; it's only the Adjustment layer itself that's affected not the whole photograph.
With the slider all the way to the right start moving it slowly towards the left and let's get to where you're out of the frame and in the photograph itself. Now notice small areas sometimes just specks start to show up white, when you have a large enough white area to use as the Eyedropper selection you found your photographs white point, the lightest area. There's no way to mark your light and dark points in Photoshop Elements, so you'll need to make a mental note of the area.
To find a darkest area repeat the procedure by taking the slider all the way to the left and the whole photo turns white. Now bring slider over slowly toward the right, same as we did before and you'll see the black start to appear. Make sure you get into the photo itself until you get a large enough area black to use your Eyedropper selection tool, be sure you use only the black-and-white points within the photograph itself and avoid areas like the white area around the photo.
If there is one or many areas that have been torn try to find your black-and-white points with in the area of the original photograph. When he found your black-and- white points simply move the threshold adjustment layer into the trash can in your layers palette and you back your original photograph. Now that we found the lightest and darkest areas in this photograph the lightest being the top of her shirt and the darkest being in the doorway behind, let's see how our Eyedroppers work, lets go again down to the Create new fill or adjustment layer and choose Levels and take our black eyedropper and take it to the point we found in the darkest area and let's get our white eyedropper and go right here and that looks a lot better and you can adjust it manually as you need to.
Even if your photos so faded you can't tell easily where the darkest and lightest areas are, Photoshop Elements 9 Threshold Adjustment layer can help you out.
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