Archive for the ‘restoring old photos’ Category
A rare image of powder flash in photography
I recently restored a photo of a football team, Balliol Invicta Football Club winners, Division one, Southwark and District 1910-1911. I’ll show that in another post.
The photo needed restoring and turned out great but it came with another photo, presumably a related photo. It depicts men in suits perhaps investors or club members, perhaps celebrating the win at dinner, in a large high ceilinged dining room. This was also restored but revealed a secret hiding in the details.
The most interesting thing about this photo is the rare sighting of the photographers assistants in the photo but captured in a mirror on the wall. They are both holding large, flash powder trays high in the air, their thumbs firmly pushed on the fuse trigger. The bright white areas appear to be clouds of smoke and the flash cloud and fierce flash. The room that was lit with these flash lights has a very high ceiling but the magnesium / potassium mix has done the job very well.
Early flash lights around 1880 – 1910 were mainly the powder flash type. A mix of Potassium perchlorate, Potassium chlorate and Magnesium powder was put in a long line inside a flash powder tray, visible in the photo. A long-handled metal tray, lit by a mechanical burning fuse, operated by a finger or thumb. The shutter was opened on the camera, or cap removed from the lens, boom! Flash fired, the cap was replaced or shutter closed. Varying amounts of powder were needed for different situations. Overdo it and risk blowing yourself up and there were fatalities!
The side effect of high-powered powder flash was the smoke and smell and ash fallout. If used in confined spaces such as photographer’s studios, it would not take long for the smoke to fill up the room, and I’m sure the ash would not be too good for your suit either! I hope you find this as interesting as i did to discovering it. The hairs on the back of my neck go up when i find little gems like this in such highly detailed photo. Once again a testament to the quality of the photographic process back in the early days.
If anyone can offer any more info ton the dinner photo feel free to get in touch and ill pass it onto Surrey FA.
(REF:Rward) Credit: Thank you kindly to the Surrey FA who let me use these pictures
Photo restoration or old enhancing methods
Back in the days of early photography when shutter speeds were slow and lens quality was being improved all the time, photographers strove to get the best results possible, even if it meant applying a few photo enhancing tricks of their own.
Lenses in the infancy of photography weren’t as optically perfect as they are today and the scene needed plenty of light and a long exposure time. The sensitivity of the “negative” was also a contributing factor. The less sensitive the light capturing medium the more light or exposure was needed. This type of camera would have been the very early Daguerreotypes around 1830 to 1860
As a result of these long shutter speeds subjects had to sit for several minutes. They often took a posture and facial expression which was comfortable. Smiling was not an optional as it couldn’t be held forgot long enough and lead to blurred features in the resulting photographs. This is why in most early photos people are not smiling and looking fairly sombre.
In this image you can clearly see brush strokes enhancing furniture and clothing.
To correct the shortcomings of the early photographic process, photographers deployed a variety of techniques to enhance their photos. Ill defined areas of detail especially in the shadows were enhanced with brush strokes of black ink, often painting in shadow lines around clothes or furniture. Eyes could be redrawn or lined in with pencil or even whitened with pigments similar to watercolours. Hair styles could also traced out with a careful brush stroke. I’ve seen images with a great deal of this enhancing and when restoring them there is no option but to leave it in. It not only adds to authenticity but if as it hides the true outlines, removing it would be detrimental to the image.