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Sat, Apr 26th - 12:27PM

I have just made some scans of random images from the old album to illustrate some of the points made in my previous post.

Familly portrait in doorway

“Family in the doorway”, is an example of where the scanning light reflects on the silver within the print and glares back as a bluish tint, upper left. (The silver was used in the chemicals to develop the photos). Isolation of the blue within editing software can go some way to removing the cast and once the foreground is balanced with the background then this could make a nice family photo once again.

Old photo of a soldier

In the previous post I talked about sepia images, this example, “Soldier boy” as I have called him is a sepia toned postcard style image around 3x2 inches. His gun is as tall as him with the bayonet in place. It may be that this sepia tone has come from ageing many years in a frame by a window, the sun’s rays causing damage over time. It may be that it was tinted sepia or it could be that heavy tobacco smoke helped with discolouration. I would approach this image by improving its contrast and tone, removing dust and dirt and trimming its edges. A nice touch would be to isolate the text and re-assemble the whole thing into a “new” postcard.

Mess Staff 1939 Portsmouth

The image I really marvel at is this one titled “Sergeants Mess staff Plymouth 1938”. It measures around 5 x 2.5 inches This is an excellent example of the clarity of the old format negatives. These postcards were sometimes printed directly from the negative by contact printing. Simply laying the negative on the photographic paper and exposing to light. This meant that the resulting image was an exact copy of the negative and the details from this type of print was astonishing. Depending in the camera the film may have been projected onto the paper but the enlargements were fairly small as materials were still relatively expensive but as in the case of this image the detail is still excellent.

 Mess Staff 1939 Portsmouth

I have taken a small portion from the larger scan to show just how detailed they can be. You can see how bad this chaps teeth were, which is a testament to the quality and methods used by some of the photographers back in the 1930s. Photos such as this can produce huge enlargements and a satisfying restoration normally results. These are my favourite kind of restorations and the more I look into them the more details I see. I restored a old naval photo of the 80 odd strong crew on board the ship Nasturtium and it wasn’t until the image was scanned in and cleaned up did I notice the ships mascot, a dog in the arm of one of the crew.

Thanks for reading.

Carrying out photo repairs throughout the UK
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Wed, Apr 9th - 8:28AM

What is in this old album?
In this post I will be looking into this album. What is in this old album?
I am going to see what restoration nightmares are in here. I will be talking about how it is not always good to have a silver lining or at least where certain photos are concerned and a look at photo studios of the past and problems the photographers faced.

There are some treasures in here. It contains postcard style prints from photographic studios in the 1920’s, smaller more modern prints on thinner, fragile paper. Some are sepia toned and others just plain black and white.

Old album page with black and white photos Old album page with black and white photos

The chemicals used to develop the black and white photo of this age and indeed those tinted sepia contained silver. This silver is still present in these photos and you can see it when you tilt the image against the light. Some angles show the blacks as being a bluish tint. In some cases of restoration scanning this type of photo causes dense blue casts and the silver reflects light from the scanner creating difficulties for the restoration.  Where you need to see the detail most, in the dark and shaded areas, it is just a sea of blue reflections. Evidence to correct this is noticeable in old galleries today where each photo tilts forwards hanging in its frame improve the viewing angle and reduce the effect.

In the photographers studios in 1910 – 1920 they may have used powder flash guns or depending on the set up natural light. The cameras still used relatively long exposures times which caused the subject to be become blurred on film. It would only take a blink at the wrong time or a wriggle and a ghostly blur would occur. In some group portraits this is evident where eyes show much paler and greyer than everyone else’s, or where the focus appear to be very soft on just one persons face. Powder flash would go some way to eliminating this as would flash bulbs when they were introduced nearer 1925-1930.

When I examine these old photos sometimes this has to be explained, as these details cannot realistically put back in or be recovered when they were never there in the first place. The great thing about these early photos though, is that they were often taken on larger format film which holds a great deal of detail. If you own negatives then it is these that can yield a superb reproduction, as do the prints taken from this type of film.

In the next post I will be taking a look at close ups of these photos and finding out what restoration work is involved.

Image-Restore bringing photo restorations to the uk and surrey

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