Sunday, January 3, 2010

Preserve Your Family Photographs! Retouching & Restoration Services

I have a long history with photo retouching and restoration. Though the work can be tedious and is definitely time consuming, there's a nice personal reward in helping preserve family and historical photographs. My initial experience included a substantial amount of work restoring my fathers' photographs. He was a commercial photographer who never got around to printing many of his images with preservation in mind. Until the 1980's, photographers for the most part, thought little about mounting photos, the acid content of papers or how to store images for longevity.

To keep the essence of the original photograph, I do most of my scanning in color, even with a black and white image. You have to have a sensitivity to the original image and how it was produced. Black and white is more involved than most people realize with subtleties in process, paper color, toning and age. I don't want to take a photo from 1910 and make it look like it was shot in 1990.

Ideally a photograph should be returned as close to its original state as is possible, it should still reflect its time, place and some of the ambiance of that period. Techniques in photography have vastly changed from the 1840's through the present and the resulting images have different characteristics.

Films and glass plates had different color sensitivities in the earlier part of the 20th century. They were very insensitive to blue light which left almost all skies a blank white. Clouds were often painted in or a second negative would be used in printing to add some interest to the sky.

This kind of knowledge may seem trivial but in this recent retouching (above) of Cutting Day in England (circa 1905-1915) it played an integral part of the restoration process. Knowledge of the history of photography helped me "realize" the original sky in the photograph and not try to recreate a sky where the mold now suggested clouds.

Preserve your most important photographs before they become unsalvageable. Once they've faded past a certain point they can't be brought back. For all photo restorations, I produce a new archival print and produce electronic files suitable for use on the internet or emailing.

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