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Blurry II: Combining Techniques

Last week I went over a few ways to lessen motion blur in a photo. There are also, of course, many other ways you can approach this problem – these were just the tip of the Photoshop iceberg.  Any or all of them may work in certain situations, but sometimes combinations can also yield a great result!

The first thing to do after opening your photo (you’ve heard this before, right?) is to duplicate the original layer. Apart from the fact that some of the techniques we’re using are fairly (or downright) destructive, you always want your original intact for the before/after *Wow!* effect.

What we’re going to do here is simply take the High Pass Filter technique and stack it with the HDR Toning to bring a bit more sharpness and clarity to the blurry portion of the image. With the duplicate layer selected, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and choose the setting that brings out the most detail in the blurry area of the photo (refer to last week’s article for more specifics).

Change the Layer Blend Mode from normal to the Blend Mode of your choice, in this case, Overlay. Now add a Layer Mask, change the mask from white to black (Ctrl or Cmd + I while the mask is selected) and paint in the blurry area with white. Remember to soften to mask slightly using Gaussian blur to blend the area you’ve just painted in.

The next step is HDR Toning. More details about this step are, again, in last week’s article, should you need them. Since HDR Toning only work’s on a flattened image you’ll need to duplicate the entire file. You can either do that when you first open the photo and it’s in a flattened state already, or you can do it now and then flatten the photo when it’s duplicated. I like doing it at this stage and then flattening it with the improvements already made with the High Pass Filter simply because it is a little sharper and has a little more for the HDR Toning to work with.

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I went with a different HDR Toning Preset this time, one that’s a bit more dramatic. Again, cycle through them all, even try a few that look promising by clicking okay than moving the image from your HDR file to your original file and using  a Layer Blend mode.  If it doesn’t work for you, or you want to try other presets, go back to the HDR Toning file and Ctrl + Alt + C (or Cmd + Opt + C), reverting the file back to the original flattened state and repeat the process.

After the HDR Toning file has been added to the original layer stack and the Layer Blend Mode of your choice has been applied, you may find, as in this case, that you have a ghost image to contend with.

We’d like to hide her third eye, if possible, and to do that I’m to use some Curves adjustments. Yes, you can use other methods to achieve this but I like the control Curves gives me, personally.

By adding a curves adjustment, taking the histogram down towards the lower right hand corner a bit, going back into the layer stack and inverting the color of the mask itself from white to black (Ctrl or Cmd + I), painting in the area you want to darken with white as your foreground and color and then lowering the opacity to blend, you can darken the area in light layers and avoid a result that may be too unnatural. You can always go back and tweak the opacity here and there to make it a bit lighter or darker as you wish.

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At some point, you may want to start darkening other areas that you might not want quite as dark. In this case I darkened the arms, legs, eyes, and clothes as they were a great deal lighter than the rest of the photo. Keep adding Curves Adjustments in light layers until you get the desired effect, which here would be that you’d no longer see the ghostly “third eye” while keeping it natural looking and in keeping with the rest of the photo.

You can also achieve the same result using the Multiply Layer Blend Mode, but you’ll have to combine all the layers each time which then becomes your new adjustment layer, and lowering the opacity to get the lighter layer.

After the ghostly and light areas are darkened to your satisfaction, take out all the normal specks and dots; in other words, do your restoration thing! Hopefully, things will now be a little less blurry…

Author Disclaimer: No one technique is ever “the best” for every situation. Every photo is different and different methods should be explored to find which the best in that particular situation is. That being said, let it be known that I attempt to try and teach many different ways of doing things. If I employ one way and it seems to you, the reader, that another way may have worked as well or better, rest assured that the techniques being used are done so in the interest of creative exploration, not nescient omission. ~JS

About Janine Smith (114 Articles)
Janine Smith is the owner of Landailyn Research and Restoration, a Fort Worth, Texas based company whose services include family history research and photo restoration. Janine honed her skills in restoring badly damaged photos as a volunteer with Operation Photo Rescue, a non-profit organization whose mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters. <br> Janine’s work is well-known in the world of genealogical and historical societies, museums, libraries, university archives, and non-profit organizations; appearing on the board of directors for several organizations and institutions. She is a sought-after lecturer on photo restoration and preservation to libraries, genealogical and historical societies. <br> In addition to being a Lynda.com author, Janine is the author of many articles on research and restoration appearing in newspapers and magazines, both on and offline. Janine's history and photo restoration columns appear regularly on TipSquirrel.com and in the popular Shades Of The Departed Digital Magazine. <br> Janine is the winner of the 2010 “Photoshop User Award” in the photo-restoration category.

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