The numbers by each entry were sampled (sample size
51x51) at a point in the light area in the center of the lower
wall, intended to represent the lightest natural rock; and also
in the chest of the secondary figure. The readings are not as
valuable as I thought they might be, but here is some guidance.
*Some people, as in 1101, have the secondary figure
quite light due to blending choices, so their numbers for that
area shouldn’t be compared with those of others. That said,
there should be at least 30L difference between the two
measurements. The greater the difference, the more contrast
between figures and background. The better versions seem to have
the difference at around 40L or even more. Again, not a hard and
*This one is hard and fast. The
first measurement, the light part of the wall, needs to be a
warm yellow or an orange. On reviewing these entries I suggest
that 0 < 1.5A < B < 6A are the desired values and if
they aren’t met the image isn’t adequate.
*The second value should also not be too colorful.
If the secondary figure is perfectly neutral then it’s 0A0B, but
it should probably be warmer, so both numbers should be
positive. My first recommendation was A+B < 25 as otherwise
things would be too colorful. On further review that seems to
conservative. I’d say A+B < 30 is more reasonable.
*Also, that second color needs to be somewhat
accurate. It must be warm, meaning neither the A nor B can be
negative. In principle the B has to be greater than the A,
otherwise the glyph is on the magenta rather than the orange
side of red. It does seem beneficial artistically here, however,
to have the measurement differ from that of the wall, preferably
by having the glyph more neutral, but possibly also by having it
more magenta. So I said that if A > B+8 there is a problem. I
guess I stick to that recommendation.
Below I’ve outlined the demonstrations that created
the four alternate par versions that I posted yesterday. The
links are in my previous message.
1101 (91L 3a
24b; 68L 9a 11b) Chosen for the par version,
not because I particularly like it but because it represents the
simplest approach: highlight the glyphs by making the background
light and uninteresting.
Robert Wheeler’s approach was not particularly
simple. He concluded that he could not get the detail he wanted
out of the original shot, so he would derive it exclusively from
the infrareds. He converted them all to LAB, discarded the ones
that were obviously unsuitable, did an Auto on the L channel and
converted to grayscale. Then, he stacked them up and did various
multiplications to get what he wanted. Finally, he put his
result on top of the original in Luminosity mode. After merging,
he increased saturation slightly.
Note that by the numbers the images are strongly
yellow, yet we perceive them as black.
1102 (71L 16a 36b; 35L 12a 11b) Ken
Harris, who posted a complete description, did not use the IR.
He had a copy of DStretch, which is software specifically
designed to extract images from rock art, making several
different versions with it and then combining them. He admits
that the color isn’t accurate, but given the nature of the
restoration the added warmth is certainly an acceptable
exaggeration and falls within my recommendations above.
The real problem, though, is, that in spite of all
the good work resurrecting the glyphs, the version is improved
by running Auto Tone. A demonstration involving this version at
#1103, and another comment at #1110.
1103 (80L 10a 27b; 40L 33a 26b) Chosen for the par version, but #1102 would have
been a better choice. Like Ken, Ed Bateman basically made no use
of the IR. Like many of us, he made a couple of different
versions for luminosity and an additional one for color only.
Here are his notes:
My first two luminosity versions:
Version 1: I made one (IMG0052) where I used
Equalize on each channel. Then I duplicated that layer -
inverted it - and Gaussian blurred it at 108 blending with
soft Light to tame the contrast.
Version 2: The next version started with (IMG0052)
Green channel and curves. The I duplicated that layer,
Gaussian blurred it and and blended with Overlay.
COLOR: I made a Color boosted layer using Man From
Mars in LAB. (Because I didn’t know where it would take me…) I
added my version 2 above that using Luminosity. I added
version 1 on top of that using Pin light - at 95% opacity.
This became my color boost layer.
On My Master image (in LAB), I copied Version 1
into it with a blending mode of Luminosity and used default
Shadows/Highlights. On top of that, I added Version two with a
blending mode of 48% - also using shadows highlights.
I added my Color master to this and used some
Color Blend-if adjustments. I next made a composition layer
and used Replace Color to change a few colors on the glyphs
that had become a bit vibrant and funky. I did a bit of
saturation adjustments on the top and bottom to keep them
within reasonable saturation. And a bit of last minute curve
Finally, on a copy, I did a Highpass Overlay move
- applied it using Darken to only add some contrast to the
dark areas and added that to the image.
All this provides a very snappy image, which is why
I initially preferred it. I now find #1102 more convincing,
however, because it lacks some of the problems that this version
Ed should have artificially lightened the
white-pigmented areas as Ken did. But the real issue is color.
According to the measurements the light area of the wall is
good. It’s a little more vivid than most others but that makes
for a happier appearance.
The glyphs, though, show up as A+B=59 (vs. A+B=23 in
#1102). This is well over my recommendation that the number
should be less than 30, and indicates they are excessively
MMM should not have been used here. It doesn’t help
the glyphs, in fact it makes them redder, and adding color
variation to the wall distracts us from the subject of the
image. Also the Color Boost layer should have been masked with
something that reduced the effect as the image gets darker. The
bright colors in the light half of the image aren’t bad but the
entire upper right half is a problem.
Still, the excellent tonal contrast between the wall
and the glyphs could be used to improve #1102, with something
Ingredients: #1102 and #1103
1) Start with #1102 and add a duplicate layer.
2) To it, apply #1103 in Lighten mode, which is
needed to prevent the white areas of #1102 from getting darker.
3) Change layer mode to Luminosity to restore the
color of #1102.
4) Add as a layer mask, a copy of the red channel,
so as to protect the darker parts of #1102 while allowing the
lighter parts of the all to get lighter.
5) Reduce layer opacity to taste. I chose 50%.
6) Duplicate the layer (and mask), change mode from
Luminosity to Color, and decide whether to use any of it. I
could see doing this at a very low opacity, limited to the light
areas, but thought it too much bother and threw the layer away.
7) Flatten image and apply Auto Tone.
The result is #1118, which according to me is better
than the par, as well as either parent.
1104 (81L 5a 3b; 63L 10a (5)b) The
numbers indicate that the whole image has a magenta cast, but
the real issue is lack of definition in the figures.
1105 (90L 5a 4b; 56L 11a 14b) This
person’s process notes state that there was a lot of
experimentation but that most of the detail came from IR version
#47 and adds “I am more interested in glyph definition than
There is some truth to this, but MMM+CB should not
have been used, there is no reason to have the right side as
cool as it is, it looks more like it was shot in a cave.
1106 (90L 3a 9b; 49L 31a 15b) This
individual is one of the few who dredged detail out of the A and
B channels of the IR. These have much more variation in the
figures than the luminosity-based channels do, so it’s a good
way to create a more mysterious look, where the images are faded
non-uniformly. In principle, I like the detailing of his main
figure better than many others.
The color is another story. He says that his
understanding of these ancient paintings is that the colorants
were typically ochre or brown, when they were not black. And he
mentions that blood may have been used as a colorant, which
could account for the magenta flavor of the secondary figure.
Even accepting this, the numbers confirm the
obvious, that this version is too colorful, especially the wild
yellows. If a yellowish feeling is desired, I’d suggest the
Ingredients: #1106 only.
1) In Hue/Saturation, reduce master saturation -40.
2) Duplicate Layer
3) Apply the Camera Raw Dehaze filter at 100%, to
increase the perception of the shapes.
4) As this move plugs the entire upper right, add as
a layer mask a copy of the RGB composite.
5) Blur the layer mask 30.0 pixels.
The result is posted as #1119.
1107 (85L (7)a 10b; 57L 0a (2)b) Too
much coolness everywhere, particularly in the foreground rock,
not enough contrast on the left side, upper right is plugged.
1108 (81L 8a 15b; 50L 16a 1b) Harvey
Nagai reviewed all the links, seeking inspiration, and then a
few more that I hadn’t listed. He went through the familiar
litany of version after version, trying to strike gold, and
instead struck magenta, which I thought highly objectionable
then but not so much now.
I like it better now, it’s a nice conservative
treatment. Comparing it to the par shows why the figures
shouldn’t be as magenta as Harvey has them. But the comparison
also shows up some problems in the par that Harvey does not
Ingredients: #1108 and the par, #1117.
1) Start with #1108 and add two duplicate layers.
Make the top one invisible.
2) To the middle layer, apply the par in Lighten
mode. This mode protects the upper right, where Harvey’s version
is the better of the two.
3) Activate the top layer, a copy of #1108. Change
mode to Color and adjust opacity to taste. I chose 50%.
The result is posted as #1120. The reason for the
last step: I find the par monotonously brown. Harvey’s original
color is likely too much of a good thing, but blending the two
works for me. Another comment about this version is at #1116.
1109 (84L 7a 37b; 44L 22a 28b)
Here’s another that I like better now than I did then. John
This has been the most interesting exercise /
challenge of all. And the most enjoyable.
I have not managed to render it “as it possibly
was originally”. And I have not painted in or added colour
other that what have emerged from the originals and the
treatment in PS.
Most of my trials have been manipulating and
blending of layers.
I think I have done some thirty five or so tries.
Eventually I found that only a few of the pictures
matched size and position. Hence, I opted for those, and
After having tried all I know about Photoshop, I
chose two images to start out: (so the extra time was very
1 No. 45 I did a few
adjustments in ACR, and
2 then into PS to make it a
3 To emphasize contrast, I
went to LAB, and neutralised a and b (with curves)= grey
4 Then I applied High Pass to
L (at 30)
5 Opened No. 44 in ACR.
6 Then to Lab
7 Adjusted as much as possible
to emphasize the different forms, and tried to get more
contrast without losing texture
8 Color Boost 2018 Lab: this
brought out different colours in the pictograms, and gave new
9 Copied two times, and
12 Copied in No.45 (now as BW)
as Luminosity at 20%
13 Tweaked quite a bit the
different layers, color was switched into Luminosity, and some
Layer Masks were manipulated (Apply Image L at Normal). Color
Dodge with Fill at 23%, and so forth.
14 Sharpen 2018: adjusted
I think I might have skipped quite a few of the
steps, as I tried almost every move I could think of. I have
never blended so much for one single image.
I did not think that the IR-pictures were much
help – they did not give much contrast or definition. Still, I
used them for making just that – contrast as BW.
I look forward to see the rest of the guys’ tries,
and hopefully you have one too.
The detailing is good but as the numbers indicate,
it’s both too yellow and too colorful. To show that there’s
merit in it, I find that blending 25% of #1109 into the par
improves it both for color and detail.
1110 (86L 3a 18b; 48L 4a 0b) Having
seen a couple of versions that I like better than the first time
around, here’s one that I like worse. Regrettably, it’s my own.
The good things about it: I prefer the weathered
look of the left side graphics to the crisper renditions
elsewhere. I did not bother to align the LAB images I was
working with since I reasoned that a little blurriness is not a
bad thing for artwork this old.
Also, from my point of view this color is the most
accurate to the scene of any version except #1116. That isn’t to
say it’s the best color for this purpose, only that many of the
others are too brown or have overly colorful figures.
This was a first effort and I wasn’t very happy with
it although I couldn’t put my finger on why. So I did a second
version this weekend but it was even worse and I trashed it.
On reviewing the work of others I saw what the
problem was. If you take any of the more orange IRs into LAB and
apply Auto Tone or similar to the B channel, a large amount of
usable detail pops out. So does a lot of noise. In the figures
themselves, this is useful. It gives the weathered appearance
that I’m looking for. But in the rock face it’s a bad thing. If
the rock was as rough as I portray it in #1110 then the Fremont
people would never have tried to paint on it.
The solution (which a couple of other people could
try): in my first effort I used the dodge tool to lighten the
white-pigmented areas, and also to lighten the area between the
horns of the two main figures. I should have realized that if I
was going to do this kind of retouching I might as well get the
whole wall as well. And since everybody else was wasting a lot
of time on this image I decided to do a new version post-mortem.
DEMONSTRATION, skipping over lots of
Ingredients: Raw versions 44 and 52.
1) I took the IR version into LAB, opened the
contrast in all channels, then blended them together as a
grayscale in a way that hopefully preserved the weather look.
2) From the original raw, I applied curves to
neutralize the figures and achieve a version correct for color.
3) I then merged the contrast of the grayscale
version with the corrected color.
4) Now, duplicate the layer of the resulting image.
It is full of the kind of noise in the wall that is found in
5) Apply Surface Blur, Radius 30, Threshold 45,
wiping out almost all the noise.
6) Add a layer mask and apply the original red
channel, which has the best contrast between wall and figures.
7) To this mask, Auto Tone.
8) Reduce layer opacity to taste. Since we don’t
want the wall to look like it’s been sanded down to complete
smoothness, I chose 50%.
9) Flatten and do the necessary retouching to the
The result is posted as #1120. It’s about what I was
intending to get in #1110. I like it better than the par, but
something even better is about to pop up.
1111 (82L (1)a 3b; 35L 18a (13)b)
This person’s process notes:
- analyzed each color image and forensically
determined what colors should be, in what locations (mostly
symbols/glyphs); make a sketch to track all parts of the image
- Assessed all source images (and searched for
more) and their channels and make selections as needed to
find/make masks for every part of the image from various RGB,
- Use/make the best base image and add layers with
masks to manage and assemble all parts of the image to yield
the most correct colors and luminance for all parts of the
image; where masks are not available or imperfect,
manually"paint" to make/adjust masks
- Use a variety of adjustment layers with masks to
get desired results; such as H/S, fill color, etc and use
blending modes as needed to yield most correct colors,
contrast, luminosity, etc.
First result seemed too yellow, made second which
was too red; blended them for final.
All this planning paid off, with clearly the best
shape of any of the 17 posted versions. If you don’t believe it,
put it as a duplicate layer on top of your own version and set
it to Luminosity mode.
Unfortunately, the color is not usable. The
psychedelic purples of the main figures are impossible. We need
a blending partner. If have just declared that this one has the
best contrast of any and that #1110 has the most accurate color,
so that’s a natural marriage. Furthermore, we can also address
the complaint that the color of #1110 is, though accurate,
Ingredients: #1111 and #1110.
1) Start with #1110 and make a new layer.
2) To it, apply #1111.
3) Change mode to Luminosity.
4) Evaluate whether to reduce opacity. I found the
effect slightly too strong and reduced opacity to 90%.
5) Flatten and find some way to boost color in the
lighter half of the image. I moved it into LAB and applied the
Color Boost 2008 action. I masked it with a copy of the L
channel, and cut the overall opacity of the action in half.
The result is #1121, and as you might expect, it’s
my favorite of all those posted.
1112 (80L 7a 9b; 44L 16a 11b) This
one measures too brown, not yellow enough. It could also use a
luminosity blend of the red channel into the composite, to add
definition to the figures.
1113 (76L 18a 44b; 28L 24a 20b) Chosen for the par version. The overall color is
similar to that of #1102 and #1103, but is extremely intense,
too colorful by my by-the-numbers standard, as though the thing
is artificially lit in a museum. I’m fine with that, since the
viewers are fully aware that this is an artificial restoration.
This person’s process notes:
So... took the default 0044.CR2 and Lab'd up the
saturation, took the infrared 0045.CR2 - in Lightroom,
de-saturated in basic panel & set white balance to 2,000,
tint to -150, to get a more contrasty grayscale rendering—then
used Dehaze at +100 to really bump the contrast, set white
slider to +58, and black to -17 —blended the Lab color into
the grayscale and adjusted Curves and Hue/Sat to get something
reasonable. The hardest thing about this is deciding how much
contrast and color to apply. A birghtening Curve was
masked-into areas that would have been white, and white edge
halos were added to more or less match the Pre-1980 Moab-Panel
jpg.Tried not to obscure anything that was in the infrared
file, even if it didn't match.
Spent about 15 minutes on this... too busy for
1114 (85L 5a 21b; 38L 10a 5b) Chosen for the par version. The color is similar
to that of #1110, so the demonstration there of blending with
#1111 would work here as well. This person used a gradient mask
to protect the shadow area, but should have protected the
whiteness above the figures so that it wouldn’t be so
distracting. Dodging between the horns of the two main figures
would also have helped. This person I think was the only one
noting the magenta cast in the main figures as being incorrect
in principle, but that analysis of the captures indicated that
the purple color was natural and not a camera WB issue. The
Several things made this a
1) All images were misaligned to varying degree
2) Lighting changed among different exposures (hard shadow,
3) The obvious lack of color info, and the unknown target
I landed in a few different places, and could see a case for two
primary things, one withe more purple, the other with more
brown. The question for me is if the purple was a byproduct of
the WB lighting or not. Looking deep into the image 200%, it
looks like I could see variation that would suggest it was not
consistent to a WB issue, so I made the assumption that the
purple was a viable color, in concert with the browns / blacks.
But, a less colorful version (no purple) would certainly be
viable too. Trying to conceive what "might have been" vs. what
we know after time has taken its toll opens up a realm that is
philosophically in nature. Rambling aside, here's my process.
1 Taken original color file into
ACR and process as a monotone to set tonal values as I want them
(save this for later).
2 Take all 9 files, color + 8
of the IR files and use photomerge to create a stack layer that
aligns the layers. This created a file slightly larger than the
original size by about 10 pixels each direction. (later to crop
back down to the correct file size at the OP color image).
3 Set the base color file as the
background layer, and each of the subsequent IR images, set to
MULTIPLY blending mode. As there was 8 layers, I weighted them
at 88%. Sounds arbitray, but it is actually 1/8 = 12%, 100% -
12% = 88%, so I only took away a little of each, rather than
only leaving a little of each to contribute.
4 The stacked layers on multiply
created a virtually black image.
5 Using the monochrome file
previously from step one, I used it as a layer set to SCREEN to
restore luminosity. Actually, this was two successive layers.
6 After this, there was a strong
dark shadow that prevented us from seeing the detail in the
upper right section. From there, it was a decision to use
gradient mask / painting mask to bring the shadow areas to a
more visible state. Since this is an exercise to find out what
might have been, I gave less credence to the "as shot" shadow.
The point was to undertake a CSI recreation / restoration
effort ... so, I genuinely wanted to know / understand what was
in there ... shadow cast be darned.
7 After that, mostly tweaks
tonality, gamma / sat to render plausibly vibrant (we don't
know) vs. excessive.
8 In the end, I took the OP
color file and set it to hue, and adjusted opacity down to take
just a bit of vibrancy back. How vibrant to render is probably
the most ??? part, comparing the what might have been vs. the
toll of time.
NOTE: In the process I wound up with an artifact
at the bottom of the frame (misalignment stuff), that I
couldn't really get rid of well, without redoing the entire
process. But, for some reason, when I went to repeat the
process (willing to do so), my photomerge would consolidate
the 8 IR files into only two layers, one orange, one purple
... weird. So, I just putzed with the OP overlaying the
artifact. Bummer, but it wasn't the real mission, since it
didn't impact the drawing area. So, if you look at the bottom
edge and it looks funky ... thats' why. I might try again ...
but, with the deadline here ... well, here it is.
1115 (92L (1)a 2b; 57L 5a (5)b) This
person used a variety of filters, as well as 12 layers and a lot
of alpha channels. The result is quite good on the right side of
the picture but the whole left half appears blown out by
comparison, and having it neutral doesn’t help.
1116 (80L 5a 11b; 50L 17a 1b) Chosen for the par version, but I can’t imagine
why I picked it instead of 1108, which has the same color
without the distracting red roof and without being
oversharpened. The oversharpening can be corrected with the same
technique as shown in #1110. So, for a final
Ingredients: #1116 and the par.
1) Start with #1116 and add a duplicate layer.
2) To it, Surface Blur, Radius 30, Threshold 45.
3) Add a layer mask and apply the original red
channel, which has the best contrast between wall and figures.
4) To this mask, Auto Tone.
5) Reduce layer opacity to taste. Unlike #1110, I
didn’t see any point in reducing it here.
6) Make a composite layer. To it, apply the par in
Lighten mode, retaining the good tonal contrast of #1116.
7) Make another composite layer. To it, apply the
8) Change mode of the par layer to Color, to kill
some of the remaining magenta flavor, and reduce opacity to
taste. I chose 25%.
The result is posted as #1122.
1117 (82L 8a 25b; 45L 18a 12b) The
1118 (82L 12a 13b; 38L 9a 3b) The
alternate par created at #1103.
1119 (89L 2a 5b; 41L 23a 6b) The
alternate par created at #1106.
1120 (90L 2a 12b; 46L 6a (3)b) The
alternate par created at #1110.
1121 (83L 4a 23b; 37L 5a 0b) The
alternate par created at #1111.
1122 (84L 8a 18b; 51L 17a 2b) The
alternate par created at #1116.