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A Photoshop miracle!

Started by glennab, November 11, 2007, 11:00:41 PM

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Hi volunteers

I wanted to share this with you, because it's astounding to me what can happen when one "channel-surfs" an image that appears to be nigh unto irreparable.  I grabbed this photo because it's one of the group I'd taken in on the Biloxi run from a lovely lady who, unfortunately, had many photos we weren't able to accept, because they were missing too much information.  I've already restored several of her collection – easy ones – and felt I'd slacked off long enough and I knew this one was very special to her so I thought I'd tackle it, even though I was concerned that it might be beyond my expertise. I remember telling the photo's owner that this one was "iffy" but we'd give it a try.

I'm working in Photoshop CS2, but I suspect this would happen in any version.

Here's the original:

Here's the version I carefully color-corrected from information outside the damage:

And here's what I got when I looked at the blue channel.  I was ecstatic when those beautiful eyes jumped out at me.  And my restoration time has diminished substantially.  I think it's phenomenal that all the information was hidden in one channel.  The other two were crap.  I had no idea what a gorgeous child was hiding almost in plain sight!

Note that this has no restoration work done to it yet.  I'm going to do the last of the clean-up that I started yesterday, try to add some color and send her home much sooner than I'd ever have anticipated.

All I can say is Photoshop ROCKS!


What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)

Tess (Tassie D)

Don't you love that blue channel Glenna. I'd love to be there when the owner sees the result. :up:
Tess Cameron
Distribution Coordinator


WoW!!!!!  That's really something.  Can't wait to see the rest!


Glenna, that is pretty amazing.  I am just now figuring out this channel business, and I will be looking forward to seeing what you can do with this.



The blue or what ever colour channel is the best can be a great saviour in some of these photos.

Glenna if you apply levels to the blue layer and lighten it up then restore it - next restore the colour image (face) but only worry about the colour, then place that layer above the "blue" layer and set its mode to colour, you can get pretty close to the money, just a bit of judicious colouring and blending - it can save you a power of work trying to reclaim the colour image.

Wisdom is having a well considered opinion .... and being smart enough to keep it to yourself!     MJS

"Life" is what happens while you are planning other things!


Hi Max

Thanks for the great tip.  I hadn't gotten to the point of figuring out exactly how I was going to reclaim the color.  Your method sounds perfect.  I probably would have tried some horrendously tricky way -- just because that's what I do!

I was feeling pretty cocky about getting her back to Chris soon, but my hours have been cut from 40 to 55 (heaven forbid, I'm taking next week off and panic is setting in!), so I'm pretty tired and burned out by the time I get home.  But I don't have much left of the clean-up, so I hope I can get her done in the next few days.  I'll post the results.  Most of what I've done lately have been easy restorations, so I haven't been posting them, but this one is so special that I'd like for you to see the final.

This is the first time I've had one channel deliver so much usable information, and it totally blew me away.


What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)


Hi Ausimax..
Just a question or two for you, so I can understand better how to restore
this type of damaged photo. Do you work with the blue channel photo in the
blue channel color or do you use the B&W version of the bllue channel?
How do you extract the blue channel and put it on its own layer ( in blue color
or black and white)? When you restore the color to the blue channel photo,
how do you do it?-Hue/saturation, painting or some other method that combines
the original painting with the enhanced data of the blue channel?
Thanks for your input and helpful information!


Hi Glenna,

Generally, when I find a successful channel (which is almost always blue), I copy and paste the blue channel into the RGB channel, and then set that new layer to luminosity.  This brings back your color.  And, if you do a "paste into", rather than just "paste", you get a layer mask, which allows you to retrieve the good areas that may be faded a bit with the luminosity mode.

I'll be anxious to see your results!




When you say that the other two channels were "crap", were you using the official scientific term?

Nice save G.
Dave Ellis
OPR Founder


Hi Dave

I can't say it's exactly a scientific term.  It's a technical acronym for a Photoshop state: Colors Really Are Poopy!

Finding so much in the blue channel was serendipitous and wonderful!  I have a process I go through with each restoration, and one of the first things I do with one this bad after color correction is to check the individual channels in each color mode, try calculations and channel mixer to combine channels and see what shows up.  Most times that will glean a bit more detail, but nothing like this one.  It was like being handed a gift when that gorgeous face appeared with so little (relative) damage.

Pete, there are probably several different ways of capturing a channel, but what I did was select the blue channel, copy the image in that channel, make a new layer and paste the blue channel's image into the file on top of the other layers.  It could just as easily be copied and pasted into a new file.  (I don't know if you're aware of this, but if you copy an item in Photoshop and make a new file, that file will automatically be the size of the object you copied.  Handy!)  Once you've copied it, you have a grayscale image.

I'm going to use Max's great suggestion to return color to the grayscale image and pray that I remember how to do it.  I'll probably be begging for more information.  Max, stand by, please.

Thanks for all the encouragement.  I love this job!


What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)


Pete, like Glenna already explained so well you can duplicate the blue (or any good) channel and make a new file.  You then can restore that image file.  You then can take the original image and correct the color as much as possible, don't worry about about any detail, you won't need it.  When that is done you can do 2 things:
1. you paste the restored blue channel as a new layer on top of the original colored image and set the blending mode to luminosity.  or,
2. you can paste the original colored image as a layer on top of the restored blue channel layer and set the blending mode to color.
In both cases you can add a layer mask to the top layer to fine tune the result.  You can also vary the opacity.  Or like Christine mentioned use "paste into" rather than "paste". 
It's like magic! 

Hannie Scheltema
Distribution Coordinator


I'm reading Hannie and Glenna's recent responses, and they are the answers
I was looking for in my posted inquiry to Ausimax. I think those responses were
directed to me, although the addressed person was "Pete". It is probably
an unconscious reference to Pat which is my name, and which could be
confused with Pete because of the letter similarity and the fact that there
may actually be a resident Pete on this site.

No matter the name, Shakespeare and all that...,
I am very appreciative of your help and thanks
to all for the tips!


Hi Pat,

I think the preceding posts have pretty well explained the procedure, so I won't go through that again, I will explain how to copy the blue or any other channel to a layer, because I had trouble with understanding and getting it to work.

1. In the Channels pallet click on the channel you want to copy, go to the Select Menu and click "Select All".

2. Click once on the RGB channel, then go to the Edit menu and click "Paste"

All things being equal you should now have a copy of that channel as a B/W layer, the main thing is to lighten the layer as much as possible so the colour from your colour layer shows true, if it is too dark the colours don't look good and are hard to correct.

Sometimes you will still have to enhance the colour in some areas, this can sometimes done by placing an empty layer on top, setting the blend mode to "colour" and painting the required colour on that layer, other times that doesn't seem to work well, then you can try painting the colour onto an empty layer with the mode set to "normal' just paint with the colour you want on the areas that need it with the brush set to a low opacity,
then with the healing tool set to sample all layers blend it into the surrounding colour and texture.

Hope this helps you, it doesn't always work for me but I still have a lot to learn, and I'm sure you will get many more helpful ideas from our more experienced members.

Have fun!

Wisdom is having a well considered opinion .... and being smart enough to keep it to yourself!     MJS

"Life" is what happens while you are planning other things!


Thanks Max,
You have added some very helpful additional information that I did not have.
Thanks for your help!


Hi Pat

Mea culpa!  You're right, we do have a Pete, and I got your "handles" confused.  I so hate when that happens!  A Pat should not be addressed by any other name!  Sorry!

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. ~Albert Pine

(Photoshop CS5 /Mac Pro)