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Blue Channel

Started by Bambi, July 18, 2011, 04:29:36 PM

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If you have looked at the StrobelSeigenthaler photos in Hannie's Gallery but the damage is too intimidating, there's more detail than you think. Hannie told me the Blue Channel had info and she was right. Here are the original and  the Blue Channel:


Blue Channel

I copied the Blue Channel (Select All>Copy), created a new Layer at the top and Pasted the Blue Channel in. Set the Blend Mode to Luminosity and it looks like this.

Amazing detail in the damaged areas, but the faces look terrible. Add a Layer Mask and paint out the areas where you don't need the detail.



Look at you! What a great idea to help people to not be intimidated. Great job on that one.
Id take it myself now if I wasnt working on one that everyone has been leaving alone for a very long time. but now after seeing that I will take a closer look.
thank you !!
Old Faded Memories
Adobe CS5
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2


OMG you are terrific.  Great idea.  I've also used a layer overlay and found that it takes a lot of junk out of the photo.   :loveit:
~ Sandi :)


Bambi thank you so much!  Many many volunteers will benefit from you so generously posting this helpful tip.  :hug:


"Take a deep breath and think of the three things you are grateful for, right in this moment."  -MJ Ryan Author


Bambi -
Thanks for posting this tutorial.


Bambi, thanks for posting this tutorial and the results are great! Before I knew about using the channels; I would have thought some of these photos were non-restores. We had one group of photos from one family that all had the yellow streaks and it was hard to think they could be saved. I have enclosed some of them and the results were amazing. Now when I'm on a copy run and see those yellow streaks; I know most likely we will be able to restore them.

Here are a couple of interested links along the same lines:

http://www.operationphotorescue.org/forum/index.php/topic,2296.msg22401.html#msg22401 http://www.operationphotorescue.org/forum/index.php/topic,2224.msg21804.html#msg21804

"carpe diem"

Margie Hayes
OPR President
[email protected]


I was so intrigued by this, I tried it on a photo I had just restored that had bright yellow stains on it. 

Sure enough, the blue channel they were pretty much not there, but it was very dark and when put in there the baby's face looked filthy.  I couldn't recover from how it messed up the colors.  I searched on blue channel, and had the same problems with all the many posts on using the blue channel and couldn't see how to overcome them.


Somehow when I see people's examples it doesn't appear that the blue channel is as dark as on this photo.

I tried the LAB approach also, and that didn't get rid of the stains as the lightness channel had it in there.

As I say, I am just playing around, I did restore the photo very slowly and painfully, but hoped this would be some sort of a miracle solution for future restores.  Instead I seem to get into a big color hole with it.

Any suggestions?



You are absolutely right, Judy. You're on the right track, but every photo is different. There are 10 channels to check for information (RGB, CMYK and LAB). In this case and, as Margie says many others, it's in the Blue channel.

The next step is to adjust the Opacity of the Blue Channel Luminosity Layer. Use the Opacity slider to adjust until there is just the level of detail you need in the damaged areas. (The other areas don't have to look perfect.) Then make a Layer Mask on the Blue Channel Luminosity Layer and paint out the areas where you don't need the extra detail.

This is just a very early step. You'll still have a lot of work to do on the image to correct the color and finish restoring. (As the third image above shows.)

Some members make it look like there's a Repair Damage Brush hidden somewhere, but it's a step-by-step process. Photoshop has as many ways to do something as there are people who do it. Everyone has a different approach. I share this only because it might help people tackle some difficult photos currently in Hannie's Gallery.



Thanks Bambi, and I thought it wonderful you shared it as it definitely opened up a whole thread that I had not seen.  When you search on the blue channel, some people just get magical results immediately it seems.  Yours was interesting in that you said that you were going to have to mask,  etc. with it so it obviously was not a panacea though still your color hadn't gotten as creamed as the on in my pix (which has that blown out orange issue so was never going to just be right on one adjustment).  I had been looking at those pictures and they intimidated me, which was why your post was particularly welcome and I started re-playing with my picture as practice.  What I have found is that with me, if I take a wrong turn with color, I can have a very hard time getting out of the hole that I have dug.

I just finished restoring a family photo where I just threw away everything but the red channel.  Thankfully, though, it was black and white!



Hi Tess,  Thank you for the refresher on channels.  My show is over now and I can get back to working on photos.  It's good to be back in the saddle again. ~ Sandi
~ Sandi :)


Indeed, great, great advice working through channels to seek out that elusive detail.

3 cheers for the blue channel and the luminosity layer!

Ne Obliviscaris


Thanx Bambi. I learnt it from you.....and have already used this trick:)


Another thank you to add to the discussion. I'm thinking how to corral all this information as I'm working....
Gayle Madden


Hi Gayle,

What I do is copy the posts that talk about techniques I want to remember and save them in a separate document. I name the document for the problem I would be using the technique on, for example, 'Find More Detail in the Blue Channel.' Then I put all those docs in a folder called 'Tutorials.'
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." -Calvin Coolidge


Thanks, I have always wondered what the channels were for, now I have a good start on using them.
Alvin Herron