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White spots - again ... a serious question

Started by Atlantis, February 11, 2008, 12:55:43 PM

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I was just wondering. Besides all the fun they bring to the forum I never really understood where they come from. I know the jokes about the spotting machine but I would like to know if it has something to do with the methods used to scan the photo's or is it some kind of mold damage? Why so many spotted photos from Biloxi? Is there more calcium in the water?
Maybe knowing the origin of the white spots might help in solving the problem.

I had a try with the median filter on my recent restauration that has numerous white spots and it worked very well on that one. But it blurred the unspotted areas to much.
So I copied the untouched merged layers after colourcorrecting and made another copy on top of that on which I applied the medianfilter with radius 1 and repeated the same settings once more.
Next added a layer mask, filled it with black and now I dab on the white spots with a tiny white brush. A few hundred each day to prevent me from getting RSI  :cool:  but it keeps the unspotted parts much sharper and more detailed. Using tablet & pen works a lot better than the mouse as well.
I plan on making a befor & after in a few days.
The only way to get better is to figure out what I did wrong.



What you are asking for is that our distributors spill the beans on highly secret information! We have spent months perfecting the art of well placed spots and it pains me to tell the truth.  ;) All of the photos that you see in the Galleries have been taken by the camera rather than scanned. The reason being; that a good lens on the camera would do a better job and also speedier than using a scanner. Also, some of the pictures are brittle and dirty, so scanning would not be a good option. Yes, you are correct in assuming that it is mold. This is really a problem with matte finished photos that the camera lens picks up detail as well as the damage. Even with a scanner, you will see the mold and also the dust in the pictures.

The mold problem is not limited to Biloxi. On the post "Coming Clean." you will see a picture with plenty of spots on a plaid shirt--a terrible combination! That picture came from the Coffeyville, Kansas flood.


"carpe diem"

Margie Hayes
OPR President


Hi Atlantis,

I had a woman tell me about a photo that was hanging on her wall and while she had extensive flood damage to her home, the waters never reached this particular photo.  However, she wasn't allowed back into her home until 3 weeks after the hurricane hit, and between the water and high humidity, the photo became covered in mold.  I think that the mold has caused most of the spotting that we all see. 

I'll be anxious to see your before and after.  I know we are all striving for ways to "fix the spots"!



What I do on those with white spots and these with the yellow cat scratches, is dupe the original layer and colour correct the dupe layer.

I then copy the colour corrected layer twice, the lower of the two I apply a heavy blur until most of the spots or scratches are gone - then on the top layer apply a mask and paint on the mask over the spots and scratches, This won't get rid of them all, it works best on areas with little contrast, like walls and such, I also find it works well on scratches on faces and limbs.

You still have to do some clean up and blending but it can speed up the process quite a bit, and the beauty of using the mask is if what you did doesn't look right you can paint it back in again, when you have achieved as much as you can with this you merge the two layers and carry on using the usual methods.

Something else to think about especially on some of the smaller photos where there isn't much detail to work with, if you are using PS CS2 and I imagine CS3, you can resize your image to twice its normal size in one hit using Bicubic Smoother, you don't have to use 10% steps and the result is almost as good a the dedicated software, you can still blow it up to 300% without pixelisation to work on, and when you finish resize down using Bicubic.

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!


Max, I sometimes us that same method but I use a dust and scratches, a gausian blur and add enlarged monochromatic grain at about 10% to the duped layer, then add a hide all layer mask and paint out some of the areas. Every photo is different but  sometimes this works great.


I finally had time to make a WIP of my whitespotsbattle (see first post for method used) being an animation I had to compress it to a gif:

and a cropped (same frames) for a closer look :

It is not yet completely finished. A cold in my head is blocking my eyesight (you know sneezing from ones eyes as well ...  :-[
I intend to paint or clone the red parts of the sweater as the median approach blurred that part to much. I guess there was to much damage compared to untouched areas.
The only way to get better is to figure out what I did wrong.