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At most stores I shop at, they use at type of ink and paper that if not stored correctly, the ink will rub off or fade and the prices will become unreadable, which can happen through pure bad luck too. When I’m buying something that I think I’ll need the receipt for at some point in the future, I photocopy the receipt onto plain paper and staple them together.

Today, I had reason to check a recent grocery receipt for a price, and discovered that although this shop only occurred two days ago, half of the receipt’s printed information was already gone, including the price I needed to read. Angling the receipt to see if I could read an imprint, I noticed that at the right angle and with the light angled the right way, there was a faint shadow in the place I knew the price had been. I thought then that maybe Photoshop might be able to help with the use of filters and blend modes.

First I took a photo of the paper, using the flash, from as close as I could get the camera to focus. Then once in Photoshop I added two brightness and contrast layers, both set to -50 contrast and +150 Brightness, then duplicated the original image and placed the duplicate on the top of the stack. This duplicated image was set to Subtract blend mode and although the result was not perfect, it showed me enough of the original price to jog my memory and recall how much the item cost.

I tried a number of other combinations of blend modes and adjustment layers, but for me, this time, this one was the one that worked. The result would definitely not be good enough for providing proof of the price to someone, but it was good enough for my purposes today.