Bringing the old back to life!
The purpose of these galleries is so you may see similar images that you have in a box somewhere that sooner or later you are going to toss. You are going to do this because you believe that they are hopeless and they are too old and torn up to ever bring back to life.
They may be hopeless, but probably not. So take a look at this first gallery. I participated in summer art fairs for ten years. Over time it became quite clear that this first set of before after restorations were the images that my booth visitors found most interesting, or that garnered consistent questions.
If you look at nothing else
A typical person would ask about a certain type of photo, and its restoration potentials.
So i have included galleries on each type of image that clients were specifically interested in seeing restored.
Highly Faded – Green or Sepia
The usual response was disbelief that there was anything at all under all that green or gray.
They would invariably have to drag a friend over to see & point,
Newspapers / Magazines
Old newsprint will turn this lovely brown like it is on fire from the inside, and with just a little bit of encouragement it will disintegrate into tiny pieces fluttering in the slightest wind. The short story is that newspaper & magazine photographs were until relatively very recently printed by hot press type. When photographs first showed up in newspapers & magazines a means had been developed to produce & print with halftones. Halftones are little tiny dots of ink that are various shades of gray. The real short story is they can be scanned and restored by blending the dots into a continuous tone. The process will preserve the image, but it will never look snap sharp as we are used to seeing photographs today.
Highly Damaged Originals
I suspect millions of these images have been tossed into the trash,
but if the image is singular, and important to you then they may be worth restoring.
I suspect there might be one of these images that are snap sharp and in focus, but I have not seen one so far. I can improve them, work on the color, but they are always shy of what can be done with a film emulsion based originals.
There was screw up somewhere. I’ve seen various explanations so I won’t repeat any of those theories. Leave it to say if the image was taken in the 70s at a portrait mill then by now it has probably turned orange. The good news is that the orange/red hues are relatively easy to remove.
Farmers in the late 19th and early 20th century must have been doing well enough to afford these large format oval portraits of themselves. Usually the image was in a very substantial wooden frame with convex glass. I never tire of looking at them. I see many that are in perfect condition but fading. I have seen many more where the frame & glass are broken or gone all together. The worse condition is where the convex print has been crushed and broken or cracked. They still can be restored.
The answers is ‘yes’, but please do not take the image out of the frame or remove the glass covering the image.
Color; like beauty; like attraction; like value — is unique depending on the individual eyes looking at it. Scales vary widely in this case when a person is looking at color in a photograph. There are standard definitions of color. These standards define what is ‘red’ for example. People’s unique perception of color makes color more problematic to restore. I depend on standards, but finally you have to tell me if the colors in your restoration are correct as defined by your eyes.
Lots of fun to see and to bring these back to life. Unfortunately folks do not have as much wall space as in the past. The images will not have quite the same presence if printed smaller. Never-the-less, I can print them the same size as the original or in a smaller more manageable size format.
Colorized Black & White Images
Some of these images I colorized in Lightroom, but things have changed and AI (artificial intelligence) based software is coming into the mainstream, but it is still requires help to fill in where it misses the mark.
Matted & Framed
I often mat and frame restorations I have completed for clients.
Sometimes clients have existing frames, and sometimes they are new.
The backs of images are generally wide open & clear of obstruction but often the choice is made to intentionally write on the face of the image, and then there are some with crayon & ink art work that indiscriminately adorns.
I am frequently asked to scan large-format artwork. They are always please to see.
At times the artist wants to make prints.
Even as of few years ago I would have women come into my booth and tell me they had
once worked for Hudson’s as a colorist – hand painting photographs.
That is how these images display in full color. Amazing work.
The resolution on tintypes is amazing. They are one off images.
To my mind they come as close to contact prints as one can get with this essentially Civil War era technology.
The technology was used into the early 20th century.
Paper Documents – Baptismal / Diplomas / Marriage / Confirmation
These life documents were often printed with lithography which allowed for and utilized great color graphics.
These documents, however were frequently not well cared for over the decades.
I am occasionally asked to make displays of multiple phonographs.
The desire is to have multiple images in a single frame or printed on canvas.
Before & After
When an image does not seem to fit into one of the previous categories I’ll post them in this generic before & after gallery.