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Fading is one of the most common types of damage to old photographs. Faded photos are very intimidating, especially when the fading is very pronounced. The good news is they're usually easier to fix than they look. Just a click or two can make a really dramatic difference. I use this photo of my grandfather a lot while demonstrating how to fix fading, because the change is so dramatic. I've heard so many people say there was virtually nothing left to fix. And if you can believe it, it looks worse in person. We're going to try to bring this photo back out by using Curves.
Go down to the bottom of the Layers panel to this half-black half-white circle, and click it, and go to Curves. Go to your black eyedropper and try to access the darkest part of your image. That can be really hard when it's very faded, but you can see his pants down here are dark, so we'll click on that, and look at how dramatic that just one click was. Now go up to your white eyedropper, and let's look for the lightest portion.
You can always use the frame, but it's really better to try to find something inside the photo. We'll click on his collar there. If it's too light, you can adjust over here on your histogram. You can try to bring it down a little bit, make it a little darker. You can adjust your midpoints. There are a lot of ways you can adjust this. Let's try our medium gray point eyedropper, try to find a gray area, and that brings a little bit out.
Again, if it's too pronounced, you can always go to your Opacity and bring that down. You can add other adjustments on top, a black-and-white adjustment, another curves. But as you can see from the before and after, just a couple clicks made a really dramatic difference. Sometimes the most intimidating-looking damage is really easy to fix, especially in the case of faded photos. In many cases all the information is still there in the image; it's just a lot lighter than it was-- and if it's there, there are ways to bring it back out again.
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