The Old Ways Are Best

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Cinema For Thurso Group

The Old Ways Are Best

Post by Cinema For Thurso Group »

Okay, so now we have PCs and Digital refinement lets crack out the old photos and clean them up!
Digital restoration I hear you say, stop and think again.

When one copies a picture of any sort for whatever reason isn't it the case that the copy inherits everything from the original- including the dirt? Yes, but thats the advantage of digital cleaning- or is it?

The digital process uses a system of averages by taking what surrounds the spot of dirt and guessing on what lies below. In that it works very well, but what about simply removing the dirt physically. It's not so
hard- or expensive.

Here's the technique used by our film group, Picture House Films. This manual process takes about 2 minutes per print and can be applied to Gloss prints. (Satin finish can also be cleaned but with care- don't touch matt prints with this though) All you need is some Silvo or Brasso wadding, simply rub the photo firmly but carefully with extra care not to further damage any cracked areas, also don't go over the cracks as this causes a stain. Let to sit for a few seconds to dry then wipe off, the results are excellent. However don't stop here, you now need to apply some Pledge to soften the emulsion and give it a wax protection from acid/ alkali or damp. The metal polish alone will dry out your precious image so a wax layer is essential.

Now what about the cracks- easy, enlarge the print on a commercial color copier to A4 or A3. Using a range of lead pencils and artistic guesswork of your own you can draw in the missing elements far more exactly than the PC. Finally using the A4/A3 image as a master rephotograph to 35mm. The final result is as good and sometimes better than the original.

Last tip- always keep the original, you never know when it might be needed again. So there you are, whatever reason you're restoring old photos this one can give an expert touch to an amateur work and no-one will know. Give it a go!
malcolm whiteley

Re: The Old Ways Are Best

Post by malcolm whiteley »

HEY! This is a great tip,received a photo last week,photo is over 100yrs old. It photo-copied
ok but needs touching up.
It's easy when you know how. Thanks a lot.
PS. Will it work with my wedding photo? Wife could do with touching up.
Dave Watterson

Re: The Old Ways Are Best

Post by Dave Watterson »

Wow! A simple, great idea for restoring old pics.

Funny how so many people suddenly find "treasured" pictures when they know you have a PC with image editing stuff on it. If they treasured them so much how come the prints got so messed up?

Talking to a couple from Penicuik a few years ago at one of the Movie festivals I found they had a photo business and did a lot of restoration. They too reckoned on using the old ways but were willing to use the computers too on a "horses for courses" basis.

Jan and I (yes, we're still getting along as a couple so sucks yar boo to the rest of you) have a photo restoration on hand at the moment. A couple we know were recently married in China. Chinese wedding custom apparently includes the couple and their parents spending half a day or more at a photographer's studio where they are made-up and dressed in borrowed finery and posed in a range of styles from Western to Mandarin, 1930's vamps to what looks like living dead in Manchester Morgue. The resulting pics are provided in a customised album covered with romantic verses and sayings in pidgin English. Enormous fun all round and a sight better than the formal group poses so beloved of British wedding photographers and their clients.

One of the Mandarin images suffered in processing so was not put in the album but given as a bonus to the couple. Our task is to clean up what looks like a great leak of light. FUN!

Cheers all.
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