Sharpening Fuji files in Photoshop vs Lightroom

Sharpening Fuji files in Photoshop vs Lightroom

Fuji RAF files have been long plagued by sharpening "worms" when using the Camera Raw algorithms for processing.  At first glance the files look lovely, but when you apply any form of zoom to check and correct sharpness, the dreaded wormy artifacts appear.  Many people have suggested using other raw processors, such as Capture One Pro, Irident etc, but if you've already committed to Creative Cloud this is not the best option.  Many other people have suggested instead using Photoshop's sharpening filters to add sharpness.  Nothing I am about to say is new or has been discovered by myself, this is just me looking into the different options and deciding (based on my own opinion) which is the best for me.

Photo Restoration Part 5

The image was starting to look half-decent (at least, a damn sight better than when I first got it!). The aim for this final section was to get the image ready for printing a couple of proofs, so that I could see if more work needed to be done when looking at it from a 'normal perspective' i.e. not pixel peeping... 17 Background repair before

This was my starting point. A lot of work had been done to the subject herself, but the (quite nicely) blown out background was still showing signs of water damage, and just general ageing. So, this was repaired using ol' faithful (spot healing brush and a bit of clone stamp tool), which neatened everything up further.

18 Background repair after

Not far to go before I had some proofs to send for printing. I still wasn't happy with the tones at the top of the image, so I added another black and white adjustment (a graduated one this time, hoping things would magically even out by themselves). This did to some extent do what I wanted, but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING weirdly went very dull.

19 Brightness contrast before

Fine. More layer adjustments! This time a brightness and contrast adjustment really did a lot of work here. In hindsight, could have used this much earlier on and could have had far fewer layers (although, switching off different layers seemed to take something away from the effect somehow)...

20 Brightness contrast after

And that is where I pretty much decided to stop for now and see what it looked like on paper. There may well be more work I need to do, but I'll wait...

The image was imported as a 1200 dpi image and a 600 dpi, so I copied the layers onto both source files and will print both to see if there is ANY discernible difference in quality. I have ordered these prints from Whitewall, on matte Ilford LightJet Print B&W paper. I have also ordered from Photobox previously, so I can see if the extra cost is really worth it!

Before restoration: Original image

Where I am now: 21 Proof for printing

Photo Restoration Part 4

Previously on Photo Restoration:Import and conversion to black and white? Done. Spot repair on the damage to the lower half of the image? Relatively simple thanks to the spot healing brush, an extremely powerful tool from Adobe. Minimising the impact of the tear across the scanned photo? Surprisingly straightforward, using the techniques discussed before...

12 Curves before

And now...curves adjustment.

For me (a relative newbie in terms of Photoshop ability) getting the top and bottom halves of the image to match up in terms of tones was was always going to be the biggest challenge. But hey, why bother doing a project like this if you aren't going to learn from it?

13 Curves first adjustment

A simple curves adjustment layer was applied to a selection of the top half of the image. This part was kinda struggling with a lack of sharpness, contrast and clarity, along with it being a (seemingly, because of the glass adhesion issue) different brightness. So, I bumped up the blacks and shadows, while also trying to make the whites a bit more white, but not having it look blown out. I'll admit, it took a LOT of tweaking, deleting, re-doing to get an effect that started to look OK. Of course, the issue with doing this is that more noise and damage was brought out in the paler upper section. Hmmm...

13 Curves first adjustment

It also seemed to have an effect on the part of the picture stuck most to the glass, making it an even darker shade! (In hindsight, seems like an issue with my selection tool. Something to look out for in the future.) So bearing this in mind, a bit of painting with a feathered brush to change the area with the curves adjustment applied and hey presto, the effect was gone.

14 Curves second adjustment

Completing this adjustment at this stage was actually pretty useful, as it did show up a lot of the damage to the top, lighter half of the image (a lot of this was not visible before). So, just like I did before (see Part 2) I corrected these spots using the trusty spot healing tool.

15 Top damage before

16 Top damage after

I have to say, the effect was pretty transformative. I was, and continue to be, extremely impressed with what Photoshop CC can do. One thing to note - clearly, the sharpness and clarity of the details on her face are not amazing. However this image, as I have said before, was taken in the 1930s AND was scanned through slightly frosted glass. Pretty impressive the file retains as much detail as it does! Anyway, there was more work to be done, such as bumping contrast, further work on the tones of the top half, and a little more damage repair. But, it was getting there. More to come...

Photo Restoration Part 3

With the tones looking a little more even, the next step was to minimise the impact of the damage on the bottom half of the image, along with trying to fix the torn parts (more difficult than anticipated!). 8 Bottom repair before

I finished off getting rid of the marks and blotches using a combination of (mainly) the spot healing brush, and the clone stamp tool. This definitely took a lot of patience, and use of the eraser when I realised I was starting to get some striping! Not such a good look...

7 Bottom fix progress

9 Repair of bottom complete

With this done, the image was really starting to look a lot neater. Now, with the original photo sticking to the glass, and the top half part torn away, it was always going to be a difficult job minimising this damage. The main challenge I found was actually the mismatch of the tones (see future posts for my 'attempts' at trying to fix this!), as getting rid of the actual white tear wasn't too bad.

Before: 10 Tear repair before

After: 11 Tear repair after

I had a feeling that any adjustments I would make after this point would likely bring out more noise in the midtone and highlight areas. So, I took a break from more spot healing and started to tackle the tonal difference between the bottom and top half of the images. This was where my inexperience started to show...More to come.

Photo Restoration Part 2

With the colours looking slightly more normal, the next step in the photo restoration project was to repair some of the damage to the lower half of the photo (the bit actually adhered to the glass). A number of potential pit-falls here; getting rid of the scratches and weird loss of colour, and retaining some of the texture in the jacket. 3 Bottom damage before

Of all the tools in CC, the spot healing brush was amazingly powerful and by far the most useful tool for me. The clone stamp was used a couple of times (mainly for boundaries between jacket and background), but I found myself coming back to the brush. It let me keep as many of the shadows in the creases of the jacket as I could, retaining some texture in the image.

4 Bottom damage after

All in all I think it did a good job; some of the colour differences were bugging me slightly, bit I tried to hide the brush strokes as much as I could by encouraging the brush to sample the right shades! There was still more work to do, but it was definitely looking improved.

The colour cast was still there, and so before continuing with any repairs I added in a colour balance and then a B&W layer to try and even out the tones (much easier to spot tones and bits to repair if EVERYTHING is a shade of grey).

5 Colour balance adjustment

6 Black and white adjustment

Lots done, but still lots to do! The colours were looking a little more even and "standard" for a black and white image. The top of the image (free from the glass) still needed a lot of repair, and the tear to parts of the image needed to be removed. More to come...