Skin Tones

It seems like old photos tend to have problems with skin tones. I look back at childhood photos from the 1970s and 1980s, and I know that my skin was never that red. Improvements in film quality and processing have cut down on these color shifts, but the proliferation of digital cameras has made this problem all too prevalent. Picture fading can cause a photo to lighten or darken over time. Generally, this is an even distortion, however, so a slight adjustment is all that is needed.

Step 1. Open up the file Ch09_Skin_Tones.psd.

Step 2. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer and click Auto. The individual channels have been automatically adjusted. Closer, but not quite right yet.

Step 3. Now you can tweak. Switch to each channel by selecting it from the pull-down list at the top of the Levels window.

For each channel, adjust the spread of the histogram. Bring the black and white point sliders closer to the pixel spread. Adjust the gamma or midpoint slightly until you are happy with the overall color. You will likely need to take two passes through each channel to get it "just" right.

Nondestructive Shadow/ Highlight Adjustment in CS3

^ If working in Photoshop CS3, you can use the Shadow/Highlight command nondestructively. You must first turn the photo into a Smart Object (this can be done by right-clicking and choosing Convert to Smart Object). You can then apply the Shadow/Highlight command and make an adjustment. For futu re changes just double-click the Shadow/Highlight command in the Layers palette.

Over time, the reds in this photo have become too dominant.
A proper Levels adjustment makes everything right.

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While it can be time consuming, you can hand-paint a grayscale photo to look realistic. Place each color on its own layer and set the layer to Color blending mode.

While it can be time consuming, you can hand-paint a grayscale photo to look realistic. Place each color on its own layer and set the layer to Color blending mode.

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