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Image ProcessingWorking With Very Old Images - Talk And Share

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minniev
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Working With Very Old Images - Talk And Share

Post by minniev » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:21 pm

Some of the treasures in my old house were old photographs, which got me thinking about what photography was like for our long ago relatives. I have never tried restoring old photographs but plan to try my hand with a few, just to experiment. I encourage you to share some old photographs from your own collection here, whether or not you have any interest in restoration. Share the story as you know it, or anything else about the images you might like to discuss. I am not decided about how much of mine to repair, but I think I'll be conservative, and retain most of the flaws of capture and age, while fixing some brought on by mistreatment over the years.

I’ll start by posting 3 that are very different. I invite you to do any experimenting you feel inclined to do with them, to suggest anything you think I should do. I’ll post my efforts as I work on them, and invite you to post yours, whether working with these or, even better, with some old pictures you have in your treasure boxes.

1 - My great grandfather in what we think is a photograph with some type with watercolor tinting. The style of hat/tie suggest a timeframe of the 1840-1850, which would have put him 35-45 at the time. I had to pry this thing out of its gold plated frame to clean the frame, but have been afraid to try to clean the image itself. There is a similar image of his mother, from about the same era.

2. - My great grandmother, taken at the time of her marriage in 1866 to the austere looking fellow above. She was 15, and he was 54 at the time, but he had not been married before. I am sure there is a story there. The image has some water damage, as does the matt. It is in an original frame, the backing of which is a slab of thinly sliced heart pine. I have researched the marking on the matt and can find nothing other than that this was a print-making house in Chicago, which did a wide variety print jobs both photographic and engraving.

3. My grandmother on her honeymoon in 1906, in San Antonio. As best I can tell, she and my grandfather took a new camera on their honeymoon. I remember a box camera that looked a lot like this http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/l ... app_id=690 being “around” when I was a child, but it might have been a different one. There is some damage to the photo by age but not by water. Some of the artifacts may have been there in the beginning. They were not especially good or careful photographers, and often decapitated their subjects, blew exposures or had crazy tilted angles.
Attachments
tam (1 of 1).jpg
alice (1 of 1).jpg
img255.jpg
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Charles Haacker
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:57 pm

minniev wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:21 pm
Some of the treasures in my old house were old photographs, which got me thinking about what photography was like for our long ago relatives. I have never tried restoring old photographs but plan to try my hand with a few, just to experiment. I encourage you to share some old photographs from your own collection here, whether or not you have any interest in restoration. Share the story as you know it, or anything else about the images you might like to discuss. I am not decided about how much of mine to repair, but I think I'll be conservative, and retain most of the flaws of capture and age, while fixing some brought on by mistreatment over the years.

I’ll start by posting 3 that are very different. I invite you to do any experimenting you feel inclined to do with them, to suggest anything you think I should do. I’ll post my efforts as I work on them, and invite you to post yours, whether working with these or, even better, with some old pictures you have in your treasure boxes.

1 - My great grandfather in what we think is a photograph with some type with watercolor tinting. The style of hat/tie suggest a timeframe of the 1840-1850, which would have put him 35-45 at the time. I had to pry this thing out of its gold plated frame to clean the frame, but have been afraid to try to clean the image itself. There is a similar image of his mother, from about the same era.

2. - My great grandmother, taken at the time of her marriage in 1866 to the austere looking fellow above. She was 15, and he was 54 at the time, but he had not been married before. I am sure there is a story there. The image has some water damage, as does the matt. It is in an original frame, the backing of which is a slab of thinly sliced heart pine. I have researched the marking on the matt and can find nothing other than that this was a print-making house in Chicago, which did a wide variety print jobs both photographic and engraving.

3. My grandmother on her honeymoon in 1906, in San Antonio. As best I can tell, she and my grandfather took a new camera on their honeymoon. I remember a box camera that looked a lot like this http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/l ... app_id=690 being “around” when I was a child, but it might have been a different one. There is some damage to the photo by age but not by water. Some of the artifacts may have been there in the beginning. They were not especially good or careful photographers, and often decapitated their subjects, blew exposures or had crazy tilted angles.
Simply fabulous! I too think about early photography a lot, what the practitioners went through, what the sitters sometimes went through in the days of very long exposures, neck braces to hold the head still, no smiles because no one could hold a smile that long...

I would be very hesitant to try to clean up Great Grandpa because it is hand-tinted and there is no telling what solvent might damage it. There are services that offer to clean old pictures but they are $pendy because of the care they must take to avoid damage. The picture is fabulous, and I'm sure you have the date right owing to the beaver stovepipe and clothing, especially the big, loose tie.

Great Grandma looks absolutely charming with a slight enigmatic Mona Lisa curve of a smile.

As to Gram and Gran's occasionally careless photography, I've always tended to put that down to an extent to the tiny finders on those Brownie boxes. They just had a tiny lens simple lens, a tiny mirror that always seemed to be desilvering, and another lens on top that horribly distorted everything that you could barely see anyway. I think Grandad did a swell job on this shot! The composition is not bad at all, except I could wish he had thought to tip the camera down to get her reflection as we would not miss the trees, but it's really a righteous shot.

To add mine, this one is a scan from a hand-tinted picture made of Daphne when she was probably about 4, acting as flower girl at some relative's wedding. I have the original sepia toned picture as well and but this one is so beautiful in color. She was born in 1939 so this is 1943-ish, and hand tinting with specially made photo oils turns out to have been the most archival way to achieve color. We were still doing it in our own studio more than 30 years later!
Attachments
img010.EMlr.jpg
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
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Post by PietFrancke » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:59 pm

for some reason we always thing that we are different today. Images like what you guys have posted certainly proves that line of thinking wrong. Daphne is stunning with her glowing smile! Great grandfather is fiery.

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Post by minniev » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:43 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:57 pm

Simply fabulous! I too think about early photography a lot, what the practitioners went through, what the sitters sometimes went through in the days of very long exposures, neck braces to hold the head still, no smiles because no one could hold a smile that long...

I would be very hesitant to try to clean up Great Grandpa because it is hand-tinted and there is no telling what solvent might damage it. There are services that offer to clean old pictures but they are $pendy because of the care they must take to avoid damage. The picture is fabulous, and I'm sure you have the date right owing to the beaver stovepipe and clothing, especially the big, loose tie.

Great Grandma looks absolutely charming with a slight enigmatic Mona Lisa curve of a smile.

As to Gram and Gran's occasionally careless photography, I've always tended to put that down to an extent to the tiny finders on those Brownie boxes. They just had a tiny lens simple lens, a tiny mirror that always seemed to be desilvering, and another lens on top that horribly distorted everything that you could barely see anyway. I think Grandad did a swell job on this shot! The composition is not bad at all, except I could wish he had thought to tip the camera down to get her reflection as we would not miss the trees, but it's really a righteous shot.

To add mine, this one is a scan from a hand-tinted picture made of Daphne when she was probably about 4, acting as flower girl at some relative's wedding. I have the original sepia toned picture as well and but this one is so beautiful in color. She was born in 1939 so this is 1943-ish, and hand tinting with specially made photo oils turns out to have been the most archival way to achieve color. We were still doing it in our own studio more than 30 years later!
The tinted photo of Daphne is just wonderful. I haven't seen one with such rich colors as this. I'm glad you've held onto this treasure and it's in such good shape.

Mine weren't so lucky. I've been working on Alice and Tam, and post my latest versions below.

I wanted to mitigate the water damage to the matt on Alice, the spotting, and the two areas where something odd happened that may have been at the printer (her right hand and just above her ear). I don't know the foibles of whatever process was used, but those areas have anomalies that seem embedded under the grain of the paper. As for the matt, I duplicated the original, flipped it, masked it, and painted back in und-damaged areas. That was far more successful than cloning areas.

With Tam, I mostly did dust removal and attempted to correct two anomalies (forehead and one eye) that seemed to be on top of the rest of the surface, either moisture or insect inflicted maybe? Both involved orange pigment so I wondered if it bled and "ran" in threads of the paper texture, over many years of moisture changes. I didn't try to overcome everything but simply to reduced the distractions of the damage.

I've always thought Alice had a Mona Lisa look to her, too :) Thanks for sharing such interesting detail about the older images many of us have in our keeping, but may not think much about.
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alice2 (1 of 1).jpg
tam2 (1 of 1).jpg
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by minniev » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:46 pm

PietFrancke wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:59 pm
for some reason we always thing that we are different today. Images like what you guys have posted certainly proves that line of thinking wrong. Daphne is stunning with her glowing smile! Great grandfather is fiery.
Old Tam was evidently quite a character. He claimed to be too old to fight for the Confederacy, but he was surely young enough to take a child-bride during the same time period, and churn out a bunch of kids. Legend has it that he had little faith in the Confederacy and when pressured to convert his wealth to confederate money in support of "the cause", instead converted it to gold and buried it. Our grandsons look dilgently over the farm with their little metal detectors in hopes of unearthing his treasure.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:59 pm

minniev wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:43 pm
The tinted photo of Daphne is just wonderful. I haven't seen one with such rich colors as this. I'm glad you've held onto this treasure and it's in such good shape.

Mine weren't so lucky. I've been working on Alice and Tam, and post my latest versions below.

I wanted to mitigate the water damage to the matt on Alice, the spotting, and the two areas where something odd happened that may have been at the printer (her right hand and just above her ear). I don't know the foibles of whatever process was used, but those areas have anomalies that seem embedded under the grain of the paper. As for the matt, I duplicated the original, flipped it, masked it, and painted back in und-damaged areas. That was far more successful than cloning areas.

With Tam, I mostly did dust removal and attempted to correct two anomalies (forehead and one eye) that seemed to be on top of the rest of the surface, either moisture or insect inflicted maybe? Both involved orange pigment so I wondered if it bled and "ran" in threads of the paper texture, over many years of moisture changes. I didn't try to overcome everything but simply to reduced the distractions of the damage.

I've always thought Alice had a Mona Lisa look to her, too :) Thanks for sharing such interesting detail about the older images many of us have in our keeping, but may not think much about.
I think you are doing very well! I have not developed any skill at restoration but you seem to be doing fine. When I had my studio if something needed restoring I jobbed it out to an airbrusher. She worked from home and did some amazing stuff but the problem with airbrushing was always that you could see it, plus it had to be recopied. I'd make the very best copy of the original that I could, using cross-polarized lights and lens to reduce reflections to pretty much nil (I could even cut through what was called "silk" paper which had a high, bright texture, but cross polarization knocked it down as if it weren't there). A master print was made as sharp as humanly possible and that went to the airbrusher who repaired the damage and tried to recreate missing parts, but the necessary re-copy and print always looked off to me, never as sharp.

One thing that delights me now is that modern scanners can reproduce the original exactly. There is no loss of sharpness as in an optical copy. That picture of Daphne looks exactly like its original. I could never do that in the "good old days."
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Post by St3v3M » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:01 pm

Wow, this looks like a lot of work, but worth it. I'm having fun watching this! S-
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