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How to adjust grays in black-and-white image

Aug 3, 2012, 15:08
Post: #1
How to adjust grays in black-and-white image
Hello again!

I'm still working on old family photos (it's a long-term project). This one is from my parents' wedding album, and it's an original black-and-white photo from 1952 (in case it helps to know the age):


Maybe it's me, but I just don't like all those different gray tones, and I would love to get my mother's gown whiter (which it still is, BTW). I have tried a few things to even things out:
- Brightness/Contrast
- Threshold, Levels, Curves (I have to admit, I don't know what I'm doing with these; it's sort of hit-or-miss)
- Auto adjustments
- Fuzzy select to try to get the darker pieces more like the lighter ones, but the adjustments I just listed aren't doing what I want and are hard to see anyway; I thought the Bucket tool might work but I don't know how to use the gray area I want as a fill color

Probably I am way off base on these but I thought it might help if you knew what I'd already tried.

Any suggestions? Does anyone here actually think all those grays look fine the way they are? And if not, how do I fix them?

Thank you!

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Aug 3, 2012, 17:10
Post: #2
RE: How to adjust grays in black-and-white image
(Aug 3, 2012 16:31)ofnuts Wrote:  IMHO the grays look fine. A wedding dress is a very difficult subject, because it should look white, but if it gets too white you don't see any detail in it. In this picture, making the dress lighter quickly hides your mom's right elbow...

You can improve the picture a bit by restoring some of the contrast it lost over time ("Colors/Brightness & contrast", but don't go above 10), and mitigate some of the blur with "Filters/Enhance/Unsharp mask" (1.0/0.5/20).

But before doing this, clean the picture (clone tool): there is a black speck on the dress and several white specks in the background.

Thank you. Yes, the whites have been an issue with a lot of these photos, but then they're from a wedding so of course there are a lot of whites Smile . The hardest before this one was my father's white jacket; he was standing kind of in the foreground watching my mother light a candle on the altar and that jacket almost looked overexposed (I can share that image if you want to see it). I just did the best I could with it and then moved on. But this one seemed even harder. I'll take your advice and not mess with the grays except for Brightness/Contrast.

Now I'm wondering, though - usually I adjust the colors/gray shades (if I need to) before doing the cleanup, and then sharpening is the last thing. But maybe I should do them in a different order? Is there one way that works better than another?

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