Posts Tagged ‘board based photos’
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.
I have been restoring a fair few black and white photos on fibrous cardboard recently. This type of photo seems to have had the light sensitive emulsion painted onto the board and then exposed to light. I would suggest that such large sizes of paper could not be made so the photographer simply grabbed a stable matt cardboard base and painted on the chemicals. The resulting image is a very soft focused photo without any hard defined edges.
With this photo board it has a matt finish and absorbs moisture very well. If you have any very large old photos, perhaps stored in the loft, still in a frame in a plastic bag, please dig them out and put the somewhere dry and warm before they suck up the moisture in the cool damp air, circulating around your loft. As they do this they swell a little and often grow mould of varying types. The fine black soot-like mould and dry white, spidery feather-like mould, possibly mildew. Neither of these do your photos any good, its best to dry them out slowly and then dust them off very lightly with a soft artist’s paint brush. Once the worst is off, use a little photographer’s canned air to blow away the spores, but do this outside otherwise they will just settle in the house and not too close to the photo either.
Once it’s all clean get your photo restoration done. The process of degradation is already happening and there is not a lot you can do to stop it! Click this link to see a post on photo restoration of board based photos