Before-and-After Digital Restorations
Below are samples of my digital restoration work with background information about each of them. You can see more of my before-and-after digital restorations on my Gallery Two page.
DISCOLORATION, COLOR TONING, AND COLOR CORRECTING
Old sepia tones originally had a very reddish-brown tint, and when they are badly faded they will look pink. Photos that have a yellowish look are just old black-and-whites in which the chemicals have gone bad. Old color photos can turn overly red or blue with age. Most color problems can be digitally corrected as in the three photographs below.
LEFT: Circa 1890s sepia photo with fading and discoloration, now restored, enhanced, and converted to black and white. Photo of Phoebe Apperson Hearst, courtesy of Mila Turlofson.
RIGHT: 1916 black and white photo with discoloration and fading, now restored, converted back to black-and-white, and re-cropped. Photo of car on 17-mile Drive in Pebble Beach, California, courtesy of Ford Motor Company.
ABOVE: 1960s snapshot with severe discoloration, now color-corrected. Photo of Elsie and Ted Ness and friends, courtesy of Patricia Ness.
Repairing Damage to Photos
In the "before" Daguerreotype below left, the subject, photography pioneer Louis Daguerre, is covered with hundreds of small white spots that took almost two hours to digitally remove. In the acetate photo at right below, I reconstructed the missing part of the subject's ear. The tintype below had damage to the ruffles in the dress and the ruffles hand to be partially reconstructed.
LEFT: 1849 Daguerreotype with hundreds of small white mold spots. Photo of Louis Daguerre by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier Blot.
RIGHT: 1940s acetate film negative with cracking. Photo of Eugene Kinckle Jones, courtesy of the Scurlock Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
ABOVE: 1890s tintype with large white area of damage to dress. Photo courtesy of Laura Watson.
Photos That Can't Be Restored
Sad but true, some photos are just too damaged for complete restoration and can only be moderately improved. There may simply not be enough detail in a photo to begin with, or the damage may be so extensive that I can't make it look much better.
LEFT: This postage stamp-size photo was yellowed, creased, and blurred, and while it was restored and enlarged slightly, it will always remain blurred. Photo of Victoria Kazlauskas, courtesy of Vicki Kazlauskas.
RIGHT: This old Polaroid could only be moderately improved because it was a victim of bad photo finishing compounded by the lack of a good lens. Photo of Mabel Louise Buzzini Martelli Perrino, Joelle's paternal grandmother.
LEFT: This 1940s acetate film negative is badly damaged due to cracking of the film, and it can be restored, but it would be very time-consuming and costly to do so. Photo of Rev. Walter H. Brooks, courtesy of the Scurlock Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF PEOPLE OF COLOR
Old Daguerreotypes of people of color can be very challenging to restore. The extremely long photographic exposure times made dark areas appear even darker. Most of the time, digitally lightening these images will bring out the details of the face and clothing, but it will not improve the photo's clarity if it was not clear to begin with.
LEFT: Daguerreotype. Former slave in New York City holding Georgina Holmes, photographer unidentified, courtesy of the Daguerreian Society.
RIGHT: 1851 Daguerreotype. California Native American Boy by Isaac Wallace Baker, courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California.
Panoramic photos can be as small as 12" wide or as large as 60" wide. They must be scanned in sections and then reassembled and digitally restored.
ABOVE: 1920s era 42"-wide panoramic photo that was yellowed and faded. It was scanned in five parts, reassembled, and restored.