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Archive for the ‘photo repair’ Category

Photo repair, more scanning tips

You may find that the photos that you want to repair are in more than one piece. When scanning an old photo with the intention of repairing it you may want to check what your scanner is up to again. See Saving you images correctly. When you scan two bits of a photo you may find that the two halves end up looking completely different. The tones and exposure and even colour may look great on one half and totally different on the other, what is going on?

When your scanner when set to automatic just like a digital camera set to “auto”, it will exposure and correct the image where and how it sees fit. Images with more dark tones in them, may be compensated for and end up lighter and vice versa for light images ending up darker. Colours may even change too.

It is best to set your scanner to manual and switch off all the automatic settings and keep the scanning resolution the same. Turn off the auto tone, brightness, contrast, colour sections and just scan in colour, as basic as you can get. This way both scans should end up the same in their tones and exposures and size. You can then be sure when you are trying to match up the two halves that they will meet easily and make the photo repair simpler too. In fact you can apply this technique when scanning large prints bigger than your scanner. Make sure you scan with around 25% overlap on each scan then this will give plenty to match up when getting your restorer to stitch them together again.

Photo repairs and fixing your old photos.

Saving your images correctly

The effects that over compressing a JPEG file can have on your images.

When it comes to photo repairs you may scan in an image from a print, slide or negative and your scanning software does it all for you, its simple you just hit the go button and the job is done. Have you ever looked at the settings within the software to see how the software is saving your image? or if it gives you any options to alter the way the file is saved or scanned? Saving without compression or little compression is the best way to preserve detail in your image. A JPEG file is a “lossy” format, or a format where data is discarded in order to save space when saving. The higher the compression the more data is thrown away and the less detail there will be in your image.

There is no excuse these days, when hard disks are so very cheap to save your image with any other setting other than the best. It might be worth examining the software that came with your scanner or camera and check that you do have the option to change the way it saves and what format it saves your images in. Phrases to look for in the manual or software settings are “best setting” or the “lowest compression”, “lossless format” or “large file size”. You get the idea but do look for the top setting. Try to scan you image so that the longest side of the photo ends up at around 3000 pixels long, just scan the photo not the whole scanner bed. To do this your scanner software should allow you draw a box around the bit you want to scan after making a quick scan pass to show you whats is on the scanner.

To do this measure your photo in inches.

  • Above 10 inches set the scanner to 300 Dpi (dots per inch)
  • 10 to 9 inches set the scanner to 300 Dpi
  • 7 to 8 inches set the scanner to 400 Dpi
  • 5 to 6 inches set the scanner to 500 to 600 Dpi
  • 3 to 4 inches set the scanner to 1200 Dpi
  • 1 to 2 inches set the scanner to 2400 Dpi

If your scanner manual lists its maximum optical scanning resolution then scanning above this will not really help with the final image. Any higher and the scanner will be adding pixels or data that were never there, this is called “interpolation”.We want to avoid any kind of interpolation if we want a good scan, we only want to restoring the original details not those that have been padded out by your scanner.

Saving your image.

To give you idea of what goes on when you save I have included an example below.

Sample photo that is about to saved to JPEG

Sample photo that is about to saved to JPEG

It is a photo of a group of people. now let us save it at different compression ratios.

JPEG setting from 100% to 0%"

JPEG setting from 100% to 0%"

As you can see the further we go with the compression the worse the data becomes and more the image suffers. The blocks you can see in the “0%” corner are where the JPEG algorithm splits up the photo into blocks in order to save it, the more data that is thrown away the more blocks there are visible. When this happens across a detailed section of the image the detail is lost, blocks meet and slurring of colours and details occur. This is called JPEG artefacts. It is these artefacts we do not want when our software takes over and saves our images for us.

On a further note, if you do save an image in this manner and then open it and make changes to it and re-save it with the same settings then the image will just get even worse.

In order for a restoration to be carried out to a high standard then highly compressed files must be avoided!

NOTE: if you have an all in one scanner printer copier that was fairly cheap you may run into difficulties see Scanning with an in all one printer scanner copier these machines actually make image detail worse!

To Summarize

1. Scan with the appropriate DPI for the size of your image (see above)

2. Scan in colour, even if your photo is black and white.

3. Save with low compression, or biggest file size in JPEG or TIFF format.

If you still have trouble with scanners and wrestling with the jargon then you may of course post your photo to me.

Image-Restore Helping you repairing old photos

Clapton Football Club 1890

Clapton Football Club and Essex County Cricket Club circa (late) 1890’s

Photo repairs performed in July 2008

Opportunities like this don’t come around too often. I had the honour to repair and restore historic images from the late 1890’s of both these prestigious teams. Clapton Football Club were one of, if not the best team in the country at the time these photos were taken.  A select 11 were chosen to represent the club for the posed photo. There were 3 main photos posed for the camera. Two of the team shot in their strip and one in suits.  Mounted on heavy card and printed on fibre based paper and processed using silver based chemicals, the quality of these photos was superb!  It isn’t until I have worked on photos like these do realise just how well the photographers did their job back then.  The photographers couldn’t just set the camera to a high ISO and snap away, they had to wait for good light and work with the subjects to keep them calm and still whilst they set up the camera and prepared for the shot.

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The Clapton Football Club photo was posed with the team in their strip, which appeared to be black and white broad striped tops, which is in fact red and white. Notably in the photo there are only 11 men in stripes and today their team photo has 17 men ready and waiting along with goalies and many others.  Their shirts were tucked into their shorts which were high up the waist in line with the elbow and fastened with a webbing belt.  Shorts all above the knee.  The ball was heavy leather and made of around 10 leather panels wrapping from top to bottom and sewn into a ball shape. Shin pads were heavy duty and worn inside the socks.  With the socks themselves a little un-coordinated, all though all dark.

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Clapton Football Club 1890

Clapton Football Club 1890

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Contrastingly the Essex County team of the same year also posed in their team strip. 11 Men with their shirts tucked into their shorts, again level with the elbow but with shorts of varying length, held up with webbing belts, scarfs and scraps of cloth. Their socks looked like anything they could find find, very un-coordinated in diamond patterned wool and with shin pads on the outside. One chap wearing boots (far right in the picture) that looked a little like work boots not football boots!

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Essex County Football Club 1890

Essex County Football Club 1890

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Essex County Football 1890 socks

Essex County Football Team socks – 1890

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NOTE: Apologies, but due to copyright restrictions I am only able to post small heavily watermarked photos.

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The Essex Cricket Team shot was posed outside the clubhouse with hanging baskets dangling from the thatched roof, some children had jostled for places in the background so they could get in the picture, with one who snuck to a window as the shutter was pressed.  Heavy white woolen sweaters and thick white shirts with a dark cloth cap with cricket clubs emblem on the front was the attire.  Once again trousers were held up with silk scarves or cloth strips and their white trousers were turned up a couple of inches at the shoe.  Of the twelve men wearing whites, only one did not have a full bushy mustache and he held a pipe, all other figures who were not children were men and wore suits and bowler hats.

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The photo repair that was needed was to improve the contrast, remove the mildew spots that are a tell tale sign of an old photo and to clean them of scratches and dust and grime that had built up over the last 120 years.

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There is something to be said for this type of posed photo, it wasn’t mass produced, they were not taken with cheap throw away cameras like today, they taken with care and attention and were shot and printed using the best techniques of the period.  As a result they have stood the tests of time.  I feel that in the throwaway society we live in today photographs can be taken without the slightest thought and just mound up on hard drives and data storage devices, images without real meaning or value. Think hard when you take a photo, make it worthwhile and limit your shots, perhaps you will make sure you take that one shot that sums up what a week’s worth of happy snaps could never do.

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Image-Restore – Photo repair for everyone!

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