Ctein (ctein) Sun 6 May 07 21:33
(replying to # 24) All of the above < smile >. Some of my methods were definitely problem-driven. The tarnish repair is a prime example. I didn't read about that trick somewhere else. I was just messing around trying to figure out some easy way to repair tarnish and wondered what would happen if I combined color selection tools with a curves adjustment. It worked far better than I expected. I thought it would, maybe, cut my work in half, but it almost completely solves the problem. It is the hack I'm proudest of. But, in preparing to write the book, I did a lot of research. In fact, the book took a full year to right, which was twice as long as I had planned. That's because I ended up having to explore a lot more different options then I thought I would, just so I could present the reader with a variety of different ways to get to where they wanted to go. The first thing I did was to read Martin Evening's Adobe Photoshop for Photographers book cover-to-cover, with a pad of post-it stickies next to me. Every time I hit something in his book that I didn't know about (or, at least, hadn't previously realized would be useful for restoration) I put in a sticky. When I was done I had the better part of 100 stickies in the book! That's why recommend his book so strongly in my introduction. I got a LOT of good ideas for restoration tricks that way. Nowadays, I'm kind of coasting. Every so often I think of a new twist on an old problem and I make note of it. Also, readers regularly send me questions and information about techniques and plug-ins that I haven't tried yet. So they're my guide to what new things I should be learning now. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]] =========================================
Ctein (ctein) Sun 6 May 07 22:16
(replying to #25) OK, Diane, I pulled down that JPEG from the flicker site. That's a good scan; there is nothing blocked up at either end of the tonal scale. There isn't really all that much discoloration, so I threw away the color information by using Photoshop's Channel Mixer to combine 50% red and 50% green to make a new monochrome image. I got rid of the yellow channel entirely, because it doesn't really contribute anything useful (it's very dark) and it most strongly shows the few rust stains in the photograph. If there were a lot of rust stains, I'd use the difference between the yellow channel and the other channels to create a mask to select for them (much the same way I selected for the speckles in the slide in Example 4, Chapter 10 (page 381). But there really aren't that many rust spots, so it isn't worth the effort. It'll be pretty fast just cleaning them out with the clone tool or using the dust and scratches filter combined with the history brush ( Chapter 8, page 268). Next I used the Shadow/ Highlight tool with the shadow amount set to 25% and the midtone contrast kicked up by 15 points. That brought out a lot more detail in the fish tank and the shadows. I cleaned up the small damage by running the Dust & Scratches filter with a radius of 4, assigning that to the history brush, reverting to the previous history state, and painting out the spots. When I hit a spot that was a little too big for the history brush, I used the clone tool to fill in. Only took five minutes to clean up all the little stuff. The lower missing pieces are easy to fix. There's nothing of importance there and it is mostly in the shadows, so just clone some nearby content and paint it in. The missing bits along the top and right margins take a little more work but not much. There isn't much detail in there. Just make sure you're cloning lines up with the features that there are. For instance, when you're cloning the part that has the diagonal roof beams, make sure you sample and click a long the direction of the beam, so that when you paint in the cloned material, it will just extend the beams nicely. When you get to a vertical strut, click a new sample and align it with the vertical. 10 minutes work, maybe, to clean it all up. Which leaves the really nasty part. There's gonna be no way to fix this that does involve some pain. And some completely imaginary painting. My approach would be to get rid of as much of the crack as I can in the background by cloning nearby parts of the walls and beams. It's tedious work. You should work in from both sides of the tear. When you get to the middle the tones will not match, so set the clone tool back to 30% strength and paint over that area to blend the left and right sides together. With some work (anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour) you'll be able to get rid of everything except the missing forehead and wrist. You're just going to have to paint those in, using the clone tool like a brush to sample from nearby areas to get the tones and textures right, but you'll have to decide where the hairline is and where the cuff actually starts, and there's just no way around it. Like I said, painful. Once you've done all of that, you're going to want to increase the contrast in the highlights to get better tonal separation and eliminate the "copy print" look. Use a curve like the one in Figure 5-26. That will get you an acceptable result. You might want to do a little dodging on the fish tank to bring out a bit more of the details, but the Shadow/ Highlight tool pulled in most of what you'd want. Finally, I'd run Focus Magic with a one pixel Blur Width to restore fine detail. It definitely perks up the photograph. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 6 May 07 22:44
So....initial work on tones & desaturation; small fill-in; major cloning if need be; then touch up with curves? And I really should be able to clone in that entire nibble? I would not have thought to be so bold. And is this a case where blacking out the missing area and torn edges by covering with matte black paper is going to help the quality of the scan, by avoiding any glare at the edges, or is that only applicable to glass plates?
Ctein (ctein) Mon 7 May 07 13:04
Well, y'know, that's the wonderful thing about digital.It's all undoable. So what do you have to lose by trying to clone in the background? Worst that happens is you throw away the revisions and wasted some time. Based on your scan, I can't see any flare from the surrounding white areas. But you could always run the experiment, scanning with and without a black background sheet and see if it makes any difference. pax / Ctein
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 7 May 07 22:51
Wow, that's a booger of a project to take on, Diane. Me, I got some red-shifted family photos I'm looking at. Which seems pretty straightforward. That Martin Evening book is terrific; I've read the last few editions, I think, and I learn something great stuff from each one. Your other big recommendation was for Katrin Eismann's book on restoration, right? What makes that book a good combination with yours?
Ctein (ctein) Tue 8 May 07 20:04
(replying to #30) Truthfully, I don't know of any other books devoted to restoration besides mine and Katrin's. Her overall approach is very different from mine; she comes from a tradition of photo retouching; she's much more involved with recreating and repainting a photograph, if necessary, than I am. That's not my forte - I'm into bit-twiddling and data extraction. When faced with wholly-missing material, like in Dianne's photo, Katrin has a lot more to say on the subject than I do. I don't think she and I cover very much of the same material. That's partially by intent; I didn't see any value in having our books duplicate each other, especially since I had a whole book's worth of ideas of my own to write about. Besides, she's the established expert in the field; if my book couldn't do more than echo hers, no one would've bought mine! pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 9 May 07 12:20
Speaking of areas of expertise, I did want to talk a bit more outside the scope of this book, about dye transfer and the traditional ("wet"?) darkoom. You mentioned earlier that some people are trying to produce their own materials; how's that working? And how big is the dye transfer community, anyway?
Jeff Dooley (dooley) Wed 9 May 07 16:19
Once you've answered David's question I have one for you. In chapter 4 you focus on scanning slides, negs, and prints. I like how you demonstrate how to use the scanner software to get a full tonal range brought into the computer at the start, rather than optimize the histogram in Photoshop. When you address the practical decisions people face in scanning images, though, I was surprised to see your "Resolution Decisions" section not explicitly address the relationship between total pixels, pixels-per-inch (ppi) and desired output size. For isntance with a 3000 pixel image you can get an 8x10 at 300 ppi. But if you only want to print a 4x6, and if 300 ppi will be good enough, then you don't need 3000 pixels. You can scan a smaller file and still get the desired 300 ppi at 4x6 without having to resample down from, say, 3000 pixels. Were you thinking that people would simply want to print the restoration at the same document dimensions as the original?
(none) Ctein (ctein) Wed 9 May 07 20:21
(replying to #32) Well, the dye transfer community is much larger than I would've expected, 13 years after Kodak pulled the the plug on us all. Michael Garelick has been keeping a list of people he's pretty sure are still doing dye transfer printing, and it numbers about three dozen. He says there may be a couple of dozen more that he hasn't confirmed. I find this hard to believe, but he's the one doing the research, not me. Most people printing are doing so off of stockpiles of Kodak supplies. Every so often someone comes out of the woodwork and says something like, " Hey, I used to do dye transfer printing and I've got some supplies in my closet; does anybody want them?" They get snatched up instantly. That's happened to me several times; the last time was only about two months ago. Remarkably enough, it turned out to be someone who only lives two blocks away from me. What are the odds?! There are a lot of people out there , it seems, with small stashes of stuff. So all of us have been able to stretch our supplies much further than we expected. There are three major components to dye transfer printing: the matrix film (essentially, the printing plates one uses), the dyes one soaks the matrix film in, and receiving paper one transfers the dye to. The matrix film is the stuff that is hardest to come by. One of the people in our group, Jim Browning, commissioned Efke in Europe to do a special run of matrix film. That has been sold out; not clear at this time if there will be another run. Dyes are pretty readily available; people are compounding their own all the time. In all likelihood, they're better than the dyes that Kodak was selling. The receiving paper is a little bit tricky, but people are having moderate success taking regular photographic paper and treating it with chemicals to make good dye transfer receiving paper. It's hard for me to believe, but I think dye transfer may survive as a small cottage industry for some remarkably long time. I certainly don't think, any longer, that I will be the last of the dye transfer printers. If truth be told, I am not the least bit passionate about the process. I do it simply because it is in certain respects unsurpassed by any other printing method. But it's entirely possible that digital printing will improve so much that it will make dye transfer largely irrelevant to me, at which time I will happily give it up. I'm in it for the print quality, not because I'm in love with making prints that way. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
(none) Ctein (ctein) Wed 9 May 07 20:35
(replying to #33) I didn't address that because I think output size is irrelevant to the input process. First off, you are correct in guessing that most people simply want an accurate reproduction of the original, at the same size as the original. More often than not, though, if they want a difference size, they want a BIGGER print. Second, the sole goal of my advice is to insure that you capture all of the information that is in the original print. What you do with that information when you print it out is another matter. But the essence of restoration is to throw away as little photographic information as possible. Third, tools like Focus Magic do a better job when they have extra pixels to deal with. Even if the original photo only has 150-200 ppi worth of fine detail in it, Focus Magic does a much better job of sharpening it up from a 600 ppi scan than from a 300 ppi scan. Fourth, as I discuss in Chapters 4 , 7, and 8, there are times when it's extremely important to have very high-resolution information about the photograph, to make it easier to isolate cracks and scratches. Sometimes that can be a real killer. The photograph in figure 7-27 is a supreme example of how bad the pain can be. The original is about 5 by 7 in. It's obvious from the highly-faded condition that it needs to be scanned at 16-bit depth in color to capture what little tonal information there is in the highlights and to give spatial and color information that the repair methods I use can grab onto. On top of that, the scratches are so terribly fine (and the photo is sufficiently sharp) that I need to scan at 1200 ppi in order to sharply capture the scratches and be able to deal with them without smearing out detail in the photograph. This is really the worst of all possible worlds; I wind up with a 250 MB file, and that's before I add any layers to it. It's painful on a system like mine that can only efficiently address 2 GB of memory. I haven't investigated what Photoshop CS3 will do under Mac OS X or Windows Vista, but I'm sure hoping it breaks the 4 GB memory barrier. This is the kind of nightmare file that should really to have 8 GB of RAM to work in. Fortunately, things are almost never this bad. This is by far the worst (in terms of file size) image I've had to deal with. Most big photographs aren't very sharp and most photographs that need ultra-high-resolution scans are rather small. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 10 May 07 15:25
Ctein, perhaps this is too basic a question for this discussion, but maybe there are other people out there scratching their heads like I'm scratching mine. What IS dye transfer? Why would I want to have a dye transfer print?
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Thu 10 May 07 23:23
A very good question. And while Ctein is thinking about that question, I'll throw a related one in. It seems like in many ways the *capture* side of things is much higher quality in digital, finally -- in a sort of absolute, higher resolution, not taking into account the aesthetic qualities of something like film grain way. And as you said earlier, digital restoration has made traditional restoration obsolete, simply because the quality is so much higher. And we can get very good output digitally these days, but definitely not as good as dye transfer (foreshadowing!) Have you seen any digital printing technologies that you think will finally get us to higher quality than dye transfer or other older technologies?
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Fri 11 May 07 08:54
<drift> sorry i haven't been able to keep up with the conversation this week, it's been a very busy week for me at work where our new foundation has been presenting mental health awareness seminars at a bunch of local highschools, and we had 800+ people to an event Monday night. anyway, i've been been reading the book, and see there is a ton of thing i'll be able to try out with my current software and hardware. and looking forward to coming back here later and reading the previous 30+ responses after work.
(none) Ctein (ctein) Fri 11 May 07 13:30
(replying to No. 36) Well, for people who want the long story, read this article: http://ctein.com/dyetrans.htm For people who want a shorter version, dye transfer prints have a longer tonal range and wider color gamut, by a substantial margin, than any other printing process ever devised. They are also extremely permanent for photographic prints; their life on display is a fair number of decades; their life in the dark is some 300 years. A dye transfer print, just sitting in a box on someone's shelf, made 50 years ago will look the same today as it did then. You can't say that for most color photographs! Dye transfer printing also offers more degrees of control over how the image looks than any other darkroom process. Anyone here who was played with digital printing with programs like Photoshop knows how incredibly important sophisticated controls are; you can do amazing things to make a photograph look just so when you can accurately control tone and color placement. Dye transfer has much more extensive tools for doing that than any other photographic process. As the article explains, it's very time consuming and hardly anybody does it any more; a few dozen people, and there are only five of us that I know of on the whole planet who offer printing services to others. And you can bet that we get paid accordingly for our services < greedy grin >. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
Ctein (ctein) Fri 11 May 07 13:52
(replying to # 37) OK-- two-part answer. On the photography side of things, it is solely about money. Digital has been able to match or surpass silver halide photography for many years. The only question has been how much money you were willing to throw at the problem. I designed my first modern digital camera back in 1970 or 71. My design looks pretty much like what you get in a digital camera today, but I knew back then it wouldn't be buildable for about 20 years. It didn't hit the consumer price point I was aiming at for 30. Circa 1987, I was bragging on the PhotoForum on CompuServe that I could build a digital camera that would match anything you could do in medium format photography, if people were willing to pay the price. Of course no one was; you were talking high six figures, maybe low seven figures. But if I'd had any takers, I could have provided them with a camera. Stephen Johnson, with his Digital National Parks project, back in the mid 90's, produced photographs with vastly better resolution that captured a vastly longer luminance range than you could ever do with film. He was using equipment that cost in the high five figures. On the printing side of things, it's about motivation. There's nothing exotic about dye transfer prints: they use fairly ordinary acid fixing dyes that are absorbed by a simple photographic-type paper (gelatin emulsion on top of fiber base). The materials are not remotely as high-tech as in inkjet printers; there are individuals out there making their own papers and dyes. About 10 years ago, just for amusement, I took an empty ink cartridge on my H-P DeskJet printer and refilled it with dye transfer dyes and tried running a piece of dye transfer receiving paper through the printer. It worked! The print quality was lousy; nothing was optimized for putting dye transfer dyes on dye transfer paper. But there was no reason you couldn't do that. In fact if someone were to give me a hundred thousand dollars or so right now, I could build myself an inkjet printer that would use dye transfer materials and produce prints that would run rings around anything I could make now, either on the computer in the darkroom. But would anyone make such a printer? Not likely. Dye transfer didn't die just because of Kodak's mendacity. 99.9% of the printing needs in the world are completely satisfied by ordinary Ektacolor-type print quality. So the real question is whether the combination of marketing, steady incremental improvements, and the "horsepower" race between printer makers ever drives the quality to to the dye transfer level. It certainly isn't a requirement for the printer business; it is whether that level of extreme quality is enough of a selling point to drive the manufacturers to develop and market the products. One would also need 16-bit printer drivers and much better profiles to make proper use of such a printer, but those are solvable problems. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Fri 11 May 07 14:16
I saw some of Stephen Johnston's early prints at a conference in Monterey in the mid-90's. (I think Katrin Eisman spoke at that conference, too, now that I think about it) They were pretty intense; my immediate response was that there was almost too much detail, that I was used to the softening that even 8x10 film applies to reality, whereas with these images every single leaf on every single plant was crystal clear, and the overall experience was overwhelming. It seems like if one could convince the printer manufacturers that they'd sell a lot more $100 an ounce ink, they'd do anything. :-) I certainly find myself that my black and white prints (with an Epson r2400 on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl) are as good, and often better, than anything I could do in the traditional darkroom -- at a normal viewing distance. If I "pixel peep" I can see the inkjet spots. And I suspect that micro-fine detail does have an effect on the final viewing experience. After the first time I zoomed in to actual pixels on an image to dodge a highlight on someone's eye, I was ready to be done with the wet darkroom -- I just had to wait for output to catch up.
Ctein (ctein) Fri 11 May 07 16:24
(reply to # 41) Stephen's photographs struck me as "odd" because of their tonal qualities. For those who haven't seen his work, he was working with a scanning digital back that could easily reproduce a dozen stops of luminance range with very high linearity. His camera saw things a lot more like the human eye sees them than like photographic film does. As a result, those photographs had light and color qualities that were more reminiscent of paintings than of photographs, but they were combined with undeniably-photographic fine detail. It was a startling and peculiar mix and it surprised me to discover how much I had linked tone and detail to each other in paintings and photographs. While I must say that I'm surprised at how much I like matte-finish inkjet prints, seeing as I hate that surface in the darkroom, I don't think the Epson R 2400 B&W prints are terribly great. There's still a distinct lack of tonal separation compared to a darkroom print (call it gradation, if you will) and the D-max of the inkjet print is far inferior to what one can get in a darkroom. Compensating for that is the huge amount of control that one has over tonal placement on the computer. In aggregate, inkjet prints are frequently better than darkroom prints precisely because of that control. That's true in color also; my Epson 2200/2400 color prints are frequently just as artistically satisfying as my dye transfer prints of the same negatives. Considering the technical inferiority of the medium, that's quite astonishing. It's a result of having such superb control over the precise placement of color and tone when working digitally. Just as dye transfer trumps conventional printing in the darkroom because of the light-years-better control tools, Photoshop trumps dye transfer. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 11 May 07 16:44
(Just a little aside - Stephen Johnson's presenting at the Apple Store in SF Monday... to see what Ctein's talking about in that post! http://www.apple.com/retail/sanfrancisco/week/20070513.html )
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Sat 12 May 07 21:24
I'll take your word on the quality of inkjet BW vs. darkroom; I'm a pretty good darkroom printer, but I'm not a master by any means. This does bring up a question for me, though -- Is there anything about traditional restoration work that gives a better result than digital work? Or is the control so much better in digital that it's no contest?
(none) Ctein (ctein) Sun 13 May 07 13:25
I'm not sure I'm competent to address this question as I have never done traditional restoration. I think I'm going to take to pass on this one. Anybody in this conference a traditional restorer? pax / Ctein
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 14 May 07 09:20
Thanks for your answer about dye transfer prints, Ctein. I hadn't realized the difference in photographic longevity between dye transfer and traditional print work. I see on your web site (www.ctein.com) that you're going to a special Guest of Honor a Baycon over Memorial Day weekend this year. Congratulations! Are you a bit nervous about it? Are you doing any special preparation? Did you buy a new suit?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 14 May 07 13:23
Ctein (ctein) Mon 14 May 07 13:37
Yes, the longevity is a very significant factor. In fact, until conventional color prints improved so much starting around 1990, dye transfer prints were by far the best print for display as well as dark storage. Other materials finally caught up for display and have done even better, but dye transfer is still amazingly good in overall keeping characteristics. And it has the advantage of having been around a very long time, so we actually have real-world data on prints that are 50-70 years old. None of this business of having to rely solely on highly-accelerated tests to estimate print lifetimes. Nervous about being a Guest of Honor? Guffaw! I'm an artist; that makes me an attention junkie. Large numbers of people want to pay attention to me and listen to me lecture on topics of my choosing and look at my work? I can somehow live with that. It's the fourth or fifth time I've done this kind of thing, anyway. Basically I get to be the center of attention, give them dog and pony shows, and the convention pays for my weekend and gives me a suite, to boot. It's a really tough life. I don't have to do very much prep for it. What does need to be done it is pretty much already in the can. So I just go down and be myself. I will go out and buy a suit if I'm ever on trial for murder. For any lesser offense, I can't see going to the expense < grin >. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 15 May 07 12:46
heh, I had a feeling "a new suit" wasn't on your to-do list, Ctein. In addition to your talent in the world of photography, you have a degree in physics, and you're a technical writer whose work covers everything from electro-optics to computer languages. Which of your many areas of expertise interest you the most?
(none) Ctein (ctein) Tue 15 May 07 20:15
Oh, that's an easy one! The photography. Considering that doing almost anything else would earn me a better living than pursuing my art, it's pretty clear to me where my heart lies. But for intellectual hobbies? Quantum mechanics, environmental science, and planetary geology, in that order. pax / Ctein [[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
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