This project show the restoration and recreation of some vintage circus posters. If an image is in digital form photo restoration means anything can be restored including posters.
I have been carrying out many poster restorations for an upcoming book ‘The Posters of Bertram Mills Circus by Steven B Richley’ available from doublecrownbooks.com and Steven has given me the permission to use his images in this post.
The vintage posters had often been folded and stored away and subsequently made into digital images. The method used to digitize them was not the best and the vintage circus posters needed some attention.
One of the posters only existed in black and white and had to be completely redrawn and recreated.
With help from Steven in sourcing the fonts and colours the image was recreated as best as we could, hand drawing the fonts where possible to give that vintage feel. Techniques used were the pen tool to draw around lettering and recreate them as “stroked paths”. That way a black edge could be added to the lettering. The curves in the background were also recreated using the path too. The mule colours were referenced from a real mule and the man was best guess!
This is less photo restoration and more “recreation” but was fun to do none the less.
Scanning photos is fraught with hurdles that most of us dont know about. We all assume that to scan a photo you lift the lid on your scanner, insert the photo and press the “scan” button. We just accept the result. With so many scanners on the market and many of them the all in one scanner printer copier type, its difficult to know that the scan you have just made is the best you can get.
I’m going to discuss some issues with scanners that Ive come across. You can then look out for these and if possible avoid them when you make a scan.
Below you will find visual examples of the problems i see when images are sent to me. You can use these to check your scans to unsure they are suitable for restoration.
Any photo restoration is only going to be as good as the digital file that is provided. This is normally a scan of photograph or negative. Scanning prints can result in may problems that a lot of us dont even see.
- Tram lines
- Broad tram lines or light banding
- Out of focus upper or lower area of the photo
- Out of focus areas
- Details all smeary or blocky
- Sparkly edges
Vertical Tram lines happen when the scanners scanning head or CCD has few dead of malfunctioning cells. This error is then carried all the way down the image but he carriage that carries the scanning head as it sweep across your image. It can also be dust blocking them or on the mirrors within the scanning mechanism. The problem can also be a calibration strip issue. Each scanner has a white strip is uses to calibrate the sensor, if its dirty then the calibration will cause some cells to respond incorrectly and cause the lines down the page. Lastly it could be a defection sensor.
Its perfectly possible that the image may have tram lines on it. These are normally caused by the negative processing. When the negative rolls are cleaned of washing fluid with a squeegee, grit can cause long scratch marks down the full length of the film. Similarly it can happen when washing and cleaning prints.
Sending a scan with tram lines for restoration is no too serious as they can be removed. Obviously a clean image with no tram lines is best. Where there is time taken to remove damage there is cost so its imperative we get the scan right.
Horizontal light banding is caused by the scanning light flickering, due to faulty power delivery, loose scanning carriage or worn cogs on the carriage mechanism. You could try contacting your technical support to see what they suggest for correcting this. It is more than likely it would be cheaper in the long run to buy a new scanner. Particularity if you have many images to scan.
Out of focus upper or lower area or patchy focus.
In this image the upper half of the photo is out of focus. For comparison the left image is in focus. This is normally caused by the image not being flay on the scanner bed. Ensure your image is flat and not jogged when the scanning is in motion. If needed add a book to weight the lid down to ensure the photo is flat. Similarly its possible that sections of the image appear out of focus due to a bowed or wrinkled image. Adding a book will help here too.
Details all smeary or blocky
When your image is saved after scanning it can sometimes look like this. Details are smeared and blocky. To some that’s normal for their scanner and they cannot see what the problem is. PDF or low compression save options are often the cause. See this post on file compression and saving which should help.
Sparkly edges are caused by over sharpening by cheap all in one printer scanner copiers. This is most likely a combined result of a cheap scanning head and over sharpening of the edges within the image. This is in an effort to compensate for the lack of clarity produced by the scanner.
To conclude, there are many but subtle problems you could see on your saved scan result. The above addresses some of the most common. Please check your scans carefully before considering a photo restoration. After all if your scanner had introduced these issues and it make the restoration harder and more expensive, neither of us want that! As always, I’m looking out for you, to help me, get you the best possible result.
Photo retouching happens in all types of industries.
It is not just about making people look better and cleaning up and restoring old photos. Property developers often use property retouching techniques to finish a property or show what the development may look like when its completed. They may wish to de-clutter a driveway or patio or place grass over a rubble filled garden. Even the interiors of houses get the interior retouching treatment too to show off the design and internal architecture to its best
Below are some examples of the type of retouching that is carried out.
Driveways can be cleaned and grass digitally planted where the once was builders rubble. Patio pots moved or removed, shadows corrected or lightened, wall finished or cars removed. The list is long but essentially its all photo retouching. Digital images allow many adjustments and changes to be made if those images meet some essential criteria.
Good retouching relies on good images. For a retouch to work well here are some points to consider. The image must be:
- High resolution, sharp and well focused
- Contain a good tonal range
- Low file compression
High resolution, sharp and well focused.
Retouching images with low resolution does not work well. In order for details of the image to be used again or transplanted from one area to another the image needs to contain many pixels. Too few and the details that are pushed around become a mess of blocks or pixels. The details cannot be matched in well and realism is lost.
If the image is not sharp or out of focus, aligning details can be made tricky. Areas that are out of focus cannot be used to patch, focused areas, the details will not match and the image look wrong in every way.
Contain a good tonal range
If an image contains too much contrast and too much brightness, details within those areas can be lost. If there are no details to use to improve the photo, the retouch will be impossible. An example could be where a fountain is shot against a light background and the camera has exposed for the foreground. Recovering the detail in the highlights will not be possible if there is no detail to recover. If the photographer is taking *RAW (explanation at bottom of post) photos these may be sued to help recover lost details.
Low file compression
Images that contain too much file compression have details that are smeared and as we know we need those details. Professional photographers know this very well but with cameras having so many settings, not all of us can remember everything. Check the quality setting on your camera, resolution may be set high but the quality also needs to high. Quality often translates to file compression. The better quality the less file compression and when it comes to file compression, less is more!
* RAW – details from Wikipedia
“A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner, or motion picture film scanner. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor. Normally, the image is processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut internal colourspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a “positive” file format such as TIFF or JPEG for storage, printing, or further manipulation, which often encodes the image in a device-dependent colourspace. There are dozens if not hundreds of raw formats in use by different models of digital equipment (like cameras or film scanners).
Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, as they fulfill the same role as negatives in film photography: that is, the negative is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image. Likewise, the process of converting a raw image file into a viewable format is sometimes called developing a raw image, by analogy with the film development process used to convert photographic film into viewable prints. The selection of the final choice of image rendering is part of the process of white balancing and color grading.
Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or color gamut than the eventual final image format, and it preserves most of the information of the captured image. The purpose of raw image formats is to save, with minimum loss of information, data obtained from the sensor, and the conditions surrounding the capturing of the image (the metadata).”