Tag Archives: black and white photography

Copies Rock

If you’ve been following my little blogging attempts for a while you’ll know that I have a great passion for old photos. Looking at them, talking about them, the people and places they show, and also displaying them. It’s my thing.

While a lot of people have kept negatives and slides from decades ago, and have the printed photo in an album or a picture frame, most would be hard pressed to find that particular negative or slide to have another print made, should their first print get lost or damaged in any way. And the vast majority of people do not even have any negatives or slides, either because they were thrown out eons ago or because their old photos are from a time where there weren’t any negatives. Or the photo they have hanging on the wall in their bedroom was done by a professional photographer, who didn’t hand out negatives or copies.

Displaying an original is not a good idea, because it definitely will get exposed to light (sunlight or artificial light) and very likely get exposed to dust, humidity, to the acids in non-archival frames, backings and matting, or get stuck to the glass of the frame, which happens more often than you might think.

Have a look around your home: if you have any photos displayed – and you should 🙂 – are they the originals?

If they are, I suggest you tackle this task over your next free weekend, and have copies made, or make them yourself. Then you put the copy back up in its frame on the mantle piece and the original photo safely in an archival album. That way your original is not in any danger.

If it is already a copy, well done. Better check you still have that original, or the negative, or the slide, and if not, get a copy of that copy.

To get copies is so easy these days:

  • Use your copy/printer and simply print a copy of your photo. Naturally a copy on ordinary white copy paper won’t deliver a flash result, maybe you want to look into investing in some proper photo paper, it has come down in price a lot in recent years
  • Maybe you have a copy/printer + scanner. Scan your photo, save it on a thumb drive and go to your nearest photo print place. Prints cost next to nothing these days, and if it’s a good photo print place, they will be able to assist you if you have any questions.
  • If you have a fancy camera: put your photo on a flat white surface in a well lit room (no direct sunlight) and take a photo of your photo. You can then either upload on a computer or laptop or take your memory card directly to a photo print place. Or print it yourself if you have a decent printer and want to invest in photo paper.
  • Use your smartphone as you would the fancy camera.

Old photos in particular have odd sizes. Simply print bigger and use some fancy scissors to cut them out, like I did with the two shown in the picture.

Copies rock

Copies rock. I have a whole lot of them of original family photos like that, and I change them around all the time 🙂

 

 

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For the Love of Beer

Digital restorations of old photographs can be tricky. Some can be outright nightmarish. The more one zooms into the image, the more damage becomes visible. Somehow it becomes quite obsessive to fix ‘everything’ and I have had nights where I’ve been dreaming in pixels after a long session at the computer during the day.

In this beer advertising from the 1950s, the very pretty model with the very elegant hands holds this for today’s standards very unbeer-ish glass in the air, a bit like a chalice. It’s a fine piece of photography, but the 8×10″ print has suffered over time.

Resto

As always, my main goal is to get the digital restoration as close to what the image would have looked like on the day it was printed as possible. There’s a fine line in overdoing it.

In the original, the only things in sharp focus are the hands and the glass, the bottle was deliberately left slightly blurry, and the face of the model was totally out of focus. I did not change that, but made sure I worked very neatly on the hands and glass, which are the main focus.

In the close-ups you can see the damage, the scratches, all the little spots and specks, that needed to go.

Restob

And the fingerprint. It always makes my heart skip a beat, when I find fingerprints on photos. Yes, paper and inks back then were different, but please, please, please don’t ever handle photos, old or new, it doesn’t matter, unless you hands are clean and dry, and hold by the edges only. The white glove thing is a myth, I have attached a link to that here, if you’re interested in reading up on that.

And I have done some research on the beer, which is a fine brew from the Swan Brewery in Perth. You can purchase this very label for a reasonable amount on e-bay, if that takes your fancy.

Love the history part of old photos 🙂

 


The Status Quo

A class photo. All girls around the age of 8-10 years old, dressed for their Holy Communion. Very serious faces, they probably would have gotten into trouble for smiling, let alone laughing out loud, on what would have been an important religious ceremony in their family and community. And you just didn’t smile in photos at that time altogether anyway.

ClassPhoto1

There was not a lot of damage, a few odd specks and splatters and it was hard to tell what were specks and splatters and not part of the cobblestone or the wooden gate. I guess as long as it’s only ‘the background’ it can be at the discretion of the restorator  🙂

Some minor discolourations from moisture which gave a yellow and blueish tint to some areas. Only minor fine cracking which was only visible once zooming in.

ClassPhoto3

I cleaned up the odd specks and fixed the discolourations. I chose to leave some cracks in the outside white frame of the photo. The aim of digital restoration is, as always, to better the status quo of an original image and create a copy that can be handled, looked at and touched, without changing the fact that it’s original exists in time and suffered from its passing.

ClassPhoto2


Size Matters

1950s? photo, tram in street setting, male figure in foreground

At first you wouldn’t know how tiny it is.

Only the comparison to my camera lens cap reveals it. Why did they make photos so small in the olden days. A logic explanation would be: small paper, less cost for paper, less cost for development, less time …. I tried to find out the facts about this, but I couldn’t get a lead. If you happen to know please fill me in 🙂

TramSize

These tiny photos pose various problems:

One, they are small to scan, small to work on and small to fix, plus there is a danger of loss of detail if I make them larger.

Two, apart from the obvious rips and scratches, it’s very hard to see any damage with the naked eye. The tilting-test shows fingerprints and odd marks but any other damage can only be seen once the photo is in my computer and I can zoom in on it.

Third, apart from the odd outcome when I get the restorated photo printed in the normal sizes of today, these ‘odd’ sizes don’t fit properly into any slip-in albums we can purchase today either, most slip-in pockets are 4×6″, so poor little photos like these fall about and only stay put if its diligent owner attaches it to a 4×6″ piece of scrap-booking paper.

Anyway, there was not much damage in this photo from the 1950s, at least not visible to the naked eye. I fixed some specks and scratches and the fingerprints, then I lightened the shadows just a bit, made the gentleman’s black pants, black trimmings on his jacket and his cap a bit darker, so they stand out, sharpened it all slightly and voila …. 🙂

Before-After Comparison of digital restoration


The Texta Devil

This example shows that photos don’t necessarily have to be really, really old to have something terrible happen to them.

The original photo is from the mid 1970s and it had some creative artwork added to it with a blue texta.

When Mum discovered the culprit in the act she tried to wipe the texta marks off – which didn’t work and just got a lot of fluff stuck on the photo.

Luckily, Mum found me at one of the recent markets that I attended.

The blue texta was removed, all scratches and fluff as well. I turned the image black & white to get rid of the age-tint, but I warmed it up with just a little sepia. Overall despeckled and details sharpenend.

A beautiful memory, soured by this texta devil, has been restored in a good way  🙂

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I am no Michelangelo

Just finished this digital restoration the other day.

Obviously the original had a few issues, the biggest problem the missing arm of the subject. Then some water damage, the most visible being the stain on the ladies forehead. And a few little rips and scratches.

I was intrigued by the photo because of the blouse, I keep saying that patterned clothing in restorations will be the death of me one day 😉 – they can be very tedious, but I never had stripes. I also loved the intricate stitching on the neck. I wanted to bring that detail out a bit more.

First I fixed the little rips and scratches. Then I fixed the arm. When I say ‘fixed’, really, I re-painted it digitally – awww the things you can do in Photoshop …  It took a bit of tweaking, to get the folds of the fabric right, I actually hang a shirt of my husband and arranged the arm in such a way that I could see the folds. I am no Michelangelo, he was a true genius with the folds of clothing, but I am happy how it turned out.

Then I took care of all the water stains. I then turned the image black&white, but gave it a bit of sepia, to keep the warmth. I spent a lot of time cleaning up little pixellation specks on the face, and then sharpening the eyes, the hair, the white lines on the blouse and especially the neck piece. I decided to not work much more on the background, to keep it, well, in the background.

Lastly, I gave the image a slight vignette, to darken the edges and draw the eye on the face. What do you think?

MaggieTwo

 


A Confession

Black-and-white images tend to not be starkly contrasted black and white, but combine black and white and a vast range of shades of grey (nothing to do with THAT book!).

Of course movies were originally in black-and-white, as were cartoons and photography. TV changed to colour as early as 1963 if you lived in the US, 1967 if you lived in the UK, and not so very long ago if you lived in Australia, who kept airing black-and-white broadcasts till 1975.

Newspapers and computers changed from monochrome prints and screens, and today fewer and fewer people have experienced the ‘good old times’ in black-and-white. For today’s generation it is an almost ancient thing. My eldest stayed up with us recently to watch a movie from 1992. Anxious, he asked ‘Is it in black-and-white?’.

Today newspapers limit their colour print due to costs, some modern film directors shoot movies occasionally in black and white as an artistic choice, but it is much less common for big Hollywood productions. It is, however, very much present in landscape, portrait and what is called Fine Art photography.

I do like black-and-white photography. Many times it is the only perfect choice for a photo, as colour would only take away from the overall effect.

However, I confess, I love colour and I do have colour dependency issues. So when I took this photo, I knew I wanted it in black-and-white, but I had to leave those flowers yellow, for a splash of colour  🙂

http://www.azpictured.com.au

IMG_2000xxblog


Winter Beach

I really love going to the beach in winter. It really is not cold on most days and the light is just fabulous. Look at the sparkle in the sea, it was a gorgeous day.

Very happy as this photo found a new home already, it’s a great privilege to know someone will look at it every day and enjoy it.

BWBeach


Restoration

Restoration

This was a restoration I did a while ago. This photo was taken in 1939 in the beautiful town of Gioia del Colle in the province of Bari, Apuglia, Italy, famous for its wine and mozzarella. The image was badly ripped and scratched and had a lot of red stains, which I’m hoping were wine stains 🙂 A lot of careful use of the Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush Tool was needed to give these young ladies some TLC.