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You may choose to reshoot the image being careful to provide even lighting.
In the sample below the mode was changed to Lab and the L channel provided an opportunity to increase the pencil weight and lighten the brown color as seen here. Then switch back to RGB Color
I started to lighten the dark area on the right, changed my mind and decided that it would be best to just reshoot with even lighting. It would allow you to provide even more contrast in the Lab Color L Channel.
Thank you, this is great. Reshooting, while not impossible is problematic. The picture was sent to me by a third party and I was going to surprise the mom with an improved version after she lamented the poor visibility for a family photo album. To reshoot it would be to spoil the surprise. Would it be possible to apply the L channel improvement to a lightening gradient applied left to right, lightening as it went ? In any event, thanks for that advice. I will work on applying it to my original picture.
Slightly different approach to Norman. Nothing wrong with Norman's method but it's always nice to have alternatives.
First I looked for the channel with the most contrast (which was red) and used a channel mixer layer to turn the image grayscale based 100% on the red channel.
I added a curves layer to increase contrast and a second and third curve to even out the exposure in different areas.
Next I added color fill layers set to overlay mode 2 black and 2 white. These whitened white and blackened black but, by painting onto the mask, I could control what was blackened and what was whitened.
At the top - a final curve and a layer with the old edges painted white
Thank you. I'm going to practice that method on the original. However, the one that retained to paper bag is what will go into the album they are making. Really appreciate the time and thanks for a different methodology. You are right, the more ways you learn to do things, the more tools are at your fingertips the next time a problem arises.