Join Janine Smith for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Levels, part of Photoshop Elements 9: Scanning and Restoring Photos.
Why do photos fade? It's understandable when they have been hanging on the wall, in a frame, in direct sunlight for 20 years. But what about the ones that fades while hanging up in the dark hall or stored in a box? It's all just a simple case of chemical reaction, the most common fading, a light fade occurs due to exposure either to sunlight or incandescent light but fading also occurs in the dark. So we know they fade, how do we bring them back? I am going to open fade1 in the exercise files.
And with the most extreme fading where none of the original photo can be seen at all can be brought back. One of the best ways to do that in Photoshop Elements is with a levels adjustment layer. To open an adjustment layer, go to Layer> New Adjustment layer>Levels or you can go to the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layers panel and choose Levels.
One way you adjust levels is with the sliders. We will go up here to this dropdown menu and we will choose the Red channel. What we are going to do is take this slider, this black slider is for the shadows. We are going to move the shadow slider over to where the histogram starts, where the information is. We are going to take the highlight slider or the white one and bring it over again where the information starts in the histogram. We are going to continue that in each channel, this time with the green.
Move the shadow slider over to where the information starts in the histogram and again with the highlight slider. Now we are going to repeat that in the blue channel, black slider over, white slider over. And you can see that the picture has come back. There is a lot to be done with this still but you have your information back. We are going to go back to where we were by clicking the Reset to adjustment defaults button. Basically the same thing can be accomplished by using the Auto button but doing it manually gives you both the control and allows you to learn more about your software and what you can do with it.
Again, we're going to take it back by using the Reset to adjustment default button and this time we are going to use the eyedroppers. The eyedroppers are basically like the sliders and that the black adjust the shadows, the white adjust the highlights and the grey is the grey point or the midpoint. We will start out by choosing the black and going into your photo and finding what the dark point is. Sometimes it's hard to tell but you can usually tell where there might be a shadow, like here in the corner of the building might be a good part or his pants are very black, we will try his pants.
And then we will go up to the white dropper and we will find a white point on the photo. You can either go in the sky, one of the areas where the sun is hitting or sometimes you can try the frame of the photo if it was white. It's not always a good idea but we will try it this time. That's good and the midpoint sometimes it doesn't do anything to the photo at all but if you try, it might work.
So find something that's midpoint and a good place might be here where the shadow is on his shirt, makes it little blue. Try different places, click around, that makes it very blue, go down here to the concrete and that looks pretty good. Anything you don't like, remember you can always go over to your Reset to adjustment default button and get back to where you were. As you can see, the levels adjustments is in quick and easy way to bring some life back into even the most faded photos.
- Determining equipment needs
- Scanning negatives, slides, and film
- Importing photos in Photoshop Elements
- Adding captions, keywords, and Smart Tags
- Adjusting contrast
- Fixing fading with Threshold
- Making automatic fixes with guided edit
- Removing dust, spots, and texture with the healing tools
- Repairing rips and tears
- Sharing restored images