Did you see...

Masking the Facts

TipSquirrel once again welcomes award winning restorationist Janine Smith.

Here, in my third and final homage to Calculations, I revisit the theme that first led to my epiphany. In his brilliant video on masking while guest blogging on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider blog, on July 8, Deke McClelland made Calculations understandable. I finally got it! Since this revelation, I’ve been experimenting with Calculations in many forms, to see which, if any, can be used to advantage in my photo restoration work flow, and have come up with three areas in which I’ll use, or at least attempt, quite often. The previous two weeks I’ve gone over the possibility of Calculations as an analysis tool and as a blending tool. Today, I offer to you Calculations as a masking tool.

Obviously, not every photo will be a good candidate for this procedure, but there are many incidences where I, personally, can see it coming in very handy! For the example photo I wanted to find something that would show one of the worst offenders in the world of masking, hair. While this photo isn’t an antique by any means, it is vintage. It’s actually of the author when she was young. Believe me, it’s vintage. It’s also a pretty badly taken photo, and for that you have my permission to blame the authors brother.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

This method is pretty straight forward, and very easy. We’ll start by running the photo through Calculations (Image > Calculations…). I used the Red channel, and the Blue channel, but also tried the green channel for the sake of thoroughness. You’ll most often find the lightest and darkest channels work the best but I’d hate to miss the opportunity to try every option ever made, just to see if maybe…Do yourself a big favor and go through every blending mode. There’s no way you can say “Multiply will always work well”. The tones will always be different, so it just stands to reason that different blending modes will effect it differently. Also, always check the “Invert” check boxes.

More:  Lightroom and Photoshop – Creating Panoramas

You may find an instance when the best contrast will be present when they aren’t checked, I’ll never say never, but I haven’t found that instance, yet. The best contrast in this particular example occurred with the Red and Blue channels, both inverted, and the blend mode set to Subtract at 100% Opacity.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

I knew in this instance that I would have a problem before too long with the contrast of the background and the shirt (which was my favorite, by the way – so 80’s!), so while it was still clearly defined I went ahead and filled in the area with white. We are working on the Alpha Channel made by the Calculations step, remember, so at this point everything is black and white and shades of gray (or grey. Generally, gray is a “color”, grey is a “colour”. Use which ever you like…).

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

We’ll now run it through Levels by going to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Do NOT use the Adjustments panel on this step! It won’t work. The object here is to bring the blacks and the whites up as high as you can without blowing out and losing the details you want to keep, in this case the hair. I was able to bring the whites up pretty high in this step, but needed to back off the blacks somewhat.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

To help things along, I filled in some of the areas around the head with black while there was still some definition.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Next, I ran it through Levels a second time (Image > Adjustments > Levels). Again, I mainly focused on the whites by bring the highlights slider over to the left. The remaining gray areas were distinct enough that I could go over them with black. The edges of the hair was the part I was concerned about.

More:  Neener's Nifty Mold Removal

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

From there it was easy to fill in a few more areas to complete the mask.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

And voila! Out went the dark trees in the background and suddenly I was transported to a night in Paris with the Eiffel Tower all lit up behind me! Then I woke up…

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Here’s another quick example, sans screenshots. This shot of the Cutty Sark was just run through Calculations and levels. Just look at the definition of the rigging!

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Is Calculations the answer to World peace? Will it cure horrible diseases? Is it the answer to everything? Of course not! But if you experiment with it, play around with the various settings, at least try it, it could actually end up being a key component in your restoration toolkit!

Janine at Landalyn.com

Janine on Twitter

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*