Very old Victorian photos

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Peter James, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Peter James

    Peter James Guest

    My wife has inherited a very old family photograph album. Some of the
    phots in it are dated 1845. I'm not sure about the dates without doing
    some research on the various census sites.

    However some of the old photos are very faded with a lot of the
    information unreadable. Most have reverted to a faded brownish hue.

    I'm a novice with Photoshop Elements so I would appreciate some advice
    about restoring them. Restoring them back to b+w results in a very
    washed out looking print.
    See Dropbox for an example of one of them.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/7cbx1369lj5y40o/GtGrandfatherStephens1845.tif

    Peter
     
    Peter James, Feb 9, 2014
    #1
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  2. Peter James

    Joe Makowiec Guest

    You might drop into some of the genealogy groups and see if somebody has
    suggestions. soc.genealogy.methods and soc.genealogy.computing might be
    appropriate. s.g.methods is moderated, and I'm not quite sure of the
    status of the moderation... There's also alt.genealogy, which is more
    free-form.
     
    Joe Makowiec, Feb 9, 2014
    #2
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  3. Peter James

    Jeff Guest

    [email protected]'t.exist.com (Peter James) wrote in [email protected]'t.exist.com:
    Before changing to grayscale, adjust the color to neutralize the yellowing
    of the paper. Go down on red, down a little on green and up on blue until
    thw whites (like the border) looks white. Change the mode to grayscale. Use
    adjustment levels change the contrast (left slider up to about 90, left
    slider down to about 240). crop off the border. Vignetted pictures like
    your sample can stand to be cropped even tighter. Here is what I got with a
    quick try at your sample. I use an old version of Photoshop but I assume
    Elements is about the same.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ivqytn8m1kszsbt/GtGrandfatherStephens1845b.tif
     
    Jeff, Feb 9, 2014
    #3
  4. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    I imported it into ACR, desaturated it and brought up the blackpoint to
    give it some contrast. Some of the yellow remains (as grey) of course
    but it avoids a washed out look.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/4bck005l7on8zz7/GtGrandfatherStephens1845.jpg

    Not sure you can do that with Elements however.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 9, 2014
    #4
  5. Peter James

    Savageduck Guest

    I took a slightly different approach.
    The age damage to this image is severe, eliminating much of the detail
    surrounding the subject. That is not a deliberate vignette. Detail has
    been lost totally in the trousers, furniture, and the top hat at his
    left elbow and is not recoverable.

    Anyway, I didn't do a straight grey scale conversion, that ends up
    looking too much like it was run through a photocopier.
    I took the original TIF into PS CC, and directly into NIK Silver Efex
    Pro2. There I tried various color filters finding a green filter worked
    best. I then made some local adjustments to the subject area, and
    applied a very light sepia.
    Back into PS I cleaned up the mount card and made a slight contrast
    adjustment to get this result.
    < https://dl.dropbox.com/u/1295663/FileChute/GtGrandfatherStephens1845B.tif >
     
    Savageduck, Feb 10, 2014
    #5
  6. Peter James

    Peter James Guest

    Thank you all for the replies and the examples of GtGrandfather's
    photographs.
    I'll try the same sort of approach to the rest of them, and again
    thanks.

    Peter
     
    Peter James, Feb 10, 2014
    #6
  7. Peter James

    Martin Brown Guest

    You will often find that old early photos have yellow or orange marks on
    them where the fixer wasn't properly washed out. The simplest way to get
    the best out of them is separate the image to RGB and then promote
    whichever has the best contrast to a monochrome image.

    The original photographer has probably carefully toned that print. It
    doesn't show any of the common poor process chemistry faults though it
    does show the uneavenness of the emulsion in those days.

    You might have to make a cunning linear combo of the faded and unfaded
    one to get a clean image. Once you have a defect free image the easiest
    way to adjust for modern tastes is with the histogram adjustment tool.

    Be aware that many prints were done high key with a fairly faint image
    and extremely early prints were etched on metal.
     
    Martin Brown, Feb 10, 2014
    #7
  8. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    Looks a bit harsh to my eyes. Black specks everywhere... odd.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 10, 2014
    #8
  9. Peter James

    Savageduck Guest

    Savageduck, Feb 10, 2014
    #9
  10. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    Looking at your (full sized shot) saw all sorts of harsh contrasts and
    little black dots everywhere... these aren't as bad in mine because the
    'grey' left in place reduces those contrasts.

    (And no - I'm not interested in fooling with this further).
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 10, 2014
    #10
  11. Peter James

    Savageduck Guest

    ....but your intensified grey (which isn't in the original) left in
    place is awful.
    Neither am I.
     
    Savageduck, Feb 11, 2014
    #11
  12. Peter James

    one Guest

    I'm just a dabbler in such things and will happily yield to (almost) anyone
    but you might like to consider a couple of suggestions:

    (1) scan the originals at the highest *optical* resolution available on your
    scanner: this will result in a much larger file but with more detail captured
    from the original and hence more for you to work with;

    (2) photographs from this time are not exactly common and are likely to be of
    interest to historians, archivists and others: is there an organisation near
    you who might be willing to undertake professional scanning and restoration
    in exchange for having access to/use of the pictures?
     
    one, Feb 11, 2014
    #12
  13. Peter James

    Tony Cooper Guest

    There's a lot of help out there on the web for restoration of old
    photos. Tutorials and such. Also, there's a forum for just this
    subject:

    http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/photo-restoration/

    It's free, and worth reading.
     
    Tony Cooper, Feb 11, 2014
    #13
  14. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    A print, a really sharp, good B&W has no more than about 500 lpi of
    information. Scanning above 600 (a typical setting) is just
    oversampling with no additional useful information collected.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 11, 2014
    #14
  15. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    The 'grey' is the yellow from the scan after de-sat. There is no
    telling what the actual photo looked like when it was printed.

    To me it mutes the contrast that is "awful" in yours.
    Let's go have a beer and tell dirty jokes then.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 11, 2014
    #15
  16. Peter James

    Peter Irwin Guest

    What you say is true for a small scale enlargement from modern films,
    say a well made 4x enlargement from FP4 or Plus-x, but these are
    more likely to be contact prints from wet-plate negatives and may
    possibly have rather more detail than you assume.

    Peter.
     
    Peter Irwin, Feb 11, 2014
    #16
  17. This may be settled experimentally I guess if you have enough Victorian
    prints. I'm going to have a look at a print of my wife's grandmother
    that seems sharp but is sepia. It's the only one I own.
     
    James Silverton, Feb 11, 2014
    #17
  18. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    Not likely given the plate sensitivities, chem qualities, camera optics
    - not to mention the age and state of the image.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 11, 2014
    #18
  19. Peter James

    Savageduck Guest

    Your place or mine.
    I don't have snow right now, and I have a good source for some
    interesting brews, some local micro-brewery products and some different
    Belgium Abby creations.
     
    Savageduck, Feb 11, 2014
    #19
  20. Peter James

    Alan Browne Guest

    Next time I'm in CA ... it's been a while come to think of it.
     
    Alan Browne, Feb 12, 2014
    #20
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