Preserving Memories, One Frame at a Time

April 5th, 2007


Byron did a neat thing with one of his re-enactment photos that I just had to learn. I think it’s a great technique for photos I want for my scrapbooking. Technically, vignetting means that the corners or outside of the photo are darkened. I also like when the outside fades to white. Here’s how it can be done. I’ll use the same photo I’ve been working on the last two weeks.


This effect takes a few more steps, but can really enhance the proper picture. It begins, like the duotones, with a new layer filled with a solid color. This can be either black or white. (Try both to see which suits the photo better.) Then choose the rectangular marquee. Center the rectangle over your center of interest. In this case, the baby’s face was above the center of the picture, so the marquee was moved up.

Go to the Select menu and choose feather. The higher the number, the more oval the marquee will become. Now you still see only the solid colored layer with your selection. Hit backspace (delete on the Mac) to reveal the photo. Press Control-D to deselect. If the edges appear too dark, play with the opacity setting to get a shade you prefer.

March 30th, 2007

Color Correction Part 3 – Neutral Gray


Last week’s correction wasn’t bad, but it was still too pink. I hadn’t used the middle eyedropper. Neutral gray can be the hardest part of the photo to identify, yet it has the largest affect on color cast. Is there a trick to help find it? Yes! It is a variation on using threshold.

Open your photo and create a new layer. Go to the edit menu and choose fill. From the dialog box, choose 50% Gray. Now change the blend mode to Difference. Create a new adjustment layer and choose Threshold. Drag the slider left until the photo turns white. This time, the first areas to appear will be your midtones. The adjustment layers can now be dragged to the trashcan. Open your curves adjustment layer and use the center eyedropper on the area indicated.

This works most of the time, but some photos just don’t have a neutral color. Then it’s back to guesswork.

March 23rd, 2007

Color Correction Part 2 – Using Threshold

betsy4mos.jpg betsy4moscorrected.jpg

Using Curves for color correction as I described it still took some guesswork. Exactly where is the darkest or lightest area? Do I just keep clicking until I find what works? Well, I’m sure you know, I found another way Photoshop takes away the guesswork. It’s called Threshold. This photo is 25 yrs. old and the color is pretty bad. I know the baby’s dress was pale green and Mom’s blouse a pale pink. Where do I find white?

At the bottom of the Layer palette is a circle half black and half white. This is the icon for “new fill or adjustment layer.” Click the circle and choose Threshold. Your photo will change and a dialog box will come up to look something like this.


Push the slider all the way to the left. Your picture will turn completely white. As you gradually slide to the right, the first area to show up will be your darkest part of the photo. Make a mental note of this area. Now do the reverse. Pushing the slider all the way to the right will turn your photo completely black. The first areas to show up are your lightest. For my photo here, it turned out to be the flash reflection an the top of baby’s shoulder.

Cancel Threshold and open a new curves layer. You can now find your black and white points with total confidence!

March 2nd, 2007

Autocrop and Straighten

I recently got interested in scrapbooking. (OK, I’m a little slow keeping up with craft fads.) One reason I hesitated was because the thought of cutting my pictures horrified me. But my photos in albums are fading or changing color as you saw in an earlier post. How can I save and preserve them? I could always scan them into Photoshop, restore them, then reprint. I could feel better cutting a re-print anyway. But the thought of all those scans is so intimidating.

Good news! There’s even a (lazy) way to let Photoshop help with this too! I can load my scanner with as many photos as I can fit at once. They don’t even need to be lined up. Hit scan and let Photoshop do the rest.


When you scan, they all appear in Photoshop as one document. Go to File, Automate, Crop and Straighten photos. Photoshop will locate edges, crop the photos and put each into its own file. You just need to re-name and save. You will still have tons of photos to retouch, but they are all saved on your computer until you are ready to make that beautiful scrapbook.

*Note: For greater safety, copy the files onto a CD. We’ve all had computer problems and you want your precious photos to be around for a long, long time.

January 6th, 2007

Color Correction with Curves


Over the holidays seems to be the time we take out the old family photos. Were you shocked at how the colors have changed over the years? I knew the baby blanket was white and his outfit was once blue. What happened? Color photographs over time will shift to yellow, magenta or green. Is there an easy way to correct this shift? The answer is YES! Believe it or not, it’s part of using curves.

The first time I played with curves, I had no idea what I was doing. I just moved the line around, saw it do some pretty weird things and decided to skip it. However, with a little instruction, I found it to be a powerful and extremely useful tool. So let’s start with something easy.

Open your photo, then choose Layers, Adjustment Layers, Curves. For today, ignore the diagram and look for the three small eyedroppers in the bottom right corner. Click the first dropper. This sets your blacks. Click the dropper on the blackest part of the photo. The far right dropper is next. Use it to set the brightest white of your photo. Photoshop will calculate the amount of color cast and automatically adjust your colors. But wait, you still have one dropper left! This one can be a little tricky on some photos. It sets a mid-tone grey. If your photo is of your child outside, you may have a roadway or concrete driveway to make it easy. In this photo, it took a few clicks to get the right area. It was a lighter shadow in the background. The change was instant. So easy!

Maybe you’re still stuck on “Open your photo.” There are a number of scanners or scanners with printers available. (Our daughter requested one for Christmas.) Contact us for information. Byron can help steer you to the one that will fit your needs.