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Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

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  #11  
Old 02-15-2010, 01:14 AM
ValerieWood ValerieWood is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

Photo Restoration is very useful now a days, several walk-in establishments in malls offer this service in order to restore weather-beaten photographs into the same condition it was first taken. With the help of technology, digital photo restoration is made possible and restoring old photos is far more convenient compared to its non-digital counterpart.
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  #12  
Old 04-05-2010, 02:08 AM
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Carol Heath Carol Heath is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

Hi Resto,

Before digital photogrpahy/editing I coloured photos for the studios I worked for and for myself. At one stage selective colouring was very popular, especially with children's portraiture. My research paper at Uni was even about hand colouring. Whilst researching, I had the chance to meet a few traditional colourists as well as contemporary (during the late 80s) artists who employed these techniques in their work.

It was a true craft and just like colouring digitally, took time, skill and talent to perfect. I mostly worked on fibre based papers which I printed then sepia toned. Sepia toning allowed for warmer tones when working with portraits. I mostly used oils (Marshall's oils were always the best in my opinion but difficult to get in Australia). The paint was applied roughly with cotton wool wound on to tiny tooth picks then clean cotton tips or balls used to blend the colour and reveal the underlying tones of the image. The more pressure you applied, the more paint you removed. Working with oils, which generally took a few days to dry made blending of colours easy. I may have used a combination of four or five skin tones when colouring a face. I use the same principles as I use today when digitally colouring an image. I start with a base colour then build up colours/tones. Eyelashes and fine details were sometimes accentuated with tiny brush tips and occassionally highlights were also added.

When hand colouring was the only option for adding colour to photos, most studios employed colourists whose sole role it was to colour portraits. Hair colour, eye colour clothing colour etc. were all recorded by the photographer at the time of shooting.

It really is a wonderful craft and I love looking at old photographs which I know have had this extra treatment lovingly applied.

In my restoration work I have come across many different methods of colouring, perhaps one of the most interesting was the creation of senotypes where two identical prints were made on a thin fibre based paper. The 'top' print had a wax or oil applied to it to make it semi transparent, then the colour was added to the back of the photograph. The two images were then sandwiched together and mounted beneath glass.

I still have my oils and pencils and also some coloured dyes which I used for some jobs. Hopefully, it is an art which will never completely die.


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Originally Posted by resto View Post
Does anyone know of any info out there on photo working before the days Photoshop?
Like when people hand painted and used chemicals.

I’ve read bits and pieces here and there and it was really interesting. But I’ve gone through pages of google and can only find info of digital photo stuff.

I wanted to read some stories of old time photo colors, editors and stuff like that.

Last edited by Carol Heath; 04-05-2010 at 02:14 AM.
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  #13  
Old 04-06-2010, 11:28 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

thanks, carol

if you'd care to expound on your techniques and any other tips for physical restoration and/or cleaning, i'd love to hear them.
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  #14  
Old 04-07-2010, 12:08 AM
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Carol Heath Carol Heath is offline
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Hi Craig,

Spotting and colouring were about the extent of my restoration skills pre-digital. I was never a restorer, just manipulated photos for the studio I worked for and did minor restorations of my own family photos. For a long while I considered myself a black and white purist and wasn't ready to let go and join the digital bandwagon. I loved the darkroom and the skill involved in creating great prints and wasn't happy with early digital technology and non archival print mediums but now..well lets just say after playing with the new CS5 for the past couple of weeks, I can't imagine going back and doing things the 'hard' way.

Spotting was a technique that most photographers employed to remove dust spots (tiny white marks caused by dust on the negative). Of course, if you had a lovely clean, dust free darkroom and used wetting agents when processing film, these were minimal. Compressed air was generally used to remove dust from negs. I had a lecturer who also taught us that the oil from our brow could be used to remove water marks from negs. (not if you are wearing make-p though). You simply touched your brow then very gently rubbed the non-emulsion side of the neg. I know many will cringe when they read this but it worked and was much cheaper than cleaning agents.

Prints prepared for exhibition or for clients were always spotted using a very fine 000 fine sable brush and inks available in different tones for both black and white and colour images. Dust marks were removed by literally 'spotting' water based ink using the tip of the brush. To dilute the ink and match tones, I usually used saliva. Yes, I know that sounds disgusting, but sucking on the tip of the brush helped to dilute the ink and form a perfect tip for the brush. I usually found it best to gradually build up tones rather than trying to achieve perfect tones from scratch. Fine scratches and tears (on copy prints) could also be repaired using this technique. It was very slow work and hard on the eyes. An image that took hours to spot the traditional way would take minutes using Photoshop. It helped pay my way through Uni though. There were a lot of lazy students who were not too concerned with quality control in the darkroom.
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  #15  
Old 04-07-2010, 12:14 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

wonderful, carol. thank you i particularly like the brow and saliva techniques
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  #16  
Old 04-07-2010, 09:04 AM
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Nezbitten Nezbitten is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

Hi Carol, I used the nose for scratch repairs. Rub a finger on the side of your nose, in the crease just behind your nostril. Rub this into the scratch on the negative and gently buff off with neg cloth. I have some great examples of this before and after in my old College portfolio. It was good for repairing the tramline scratches that were sometimes found running the length of strips of negatives where a neg squeegee scratched them when cleaning off the final wetting agent.
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  #17  
Old 04-07-2010, 09:15 AM
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Carol Heath Carol Heath is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

Great, cheap technique wasn't it? You have to wonder who first thought of using grease from our skin. Very effective though. Yes, it did work great for fine scratches as well.

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Originally Posted by Nezbitten View Post
Hi Carol, I used the nose for scratch repairs. Rub a finger on the side of your nose, in the crease just behind your nostril. Rub this into the scratch on the negative and gently buff off with neg cloth. I have some great examples of this before and after in my old College portfolio. It was good for repairing the tramline scratches that were sometimes found running the length of strips of negatives where a neg squeegee scratched them when cleaning off the final wetting agent.
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  #18  
Old 04-08-2010, 03:18 AM
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Nezbitten Nezbitten is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

Hi Carol, I guess the idea of it was the fine oils deflect the and difuse the light just enough to blur over the scratches. An early dust and scratch filter! Not sure how it would effect the negative long term though?
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  #19  
Old 05-28-2010, 02:55 AM
spotter spotter is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

I worked in a photo printers. We were the spotters and worked on negs and prints and even exhibition displays. Black scratches were removed on the negs using opaque(a sort of clay coloured paint).We had to fill in the scratches etc with small tipped brushes. Vignetting was often done by rubbing red dye into a negative in the right shape .
I have cut and pasted many a neg together to produce an all in one negative (composite) with both line and grey scale pictures. We used red litho tape to hold it all together .Ofcourse that was all on black and white negs and they were made specially to be worked on.
Masking on colour negs was done with silver tape and opaque as the red litho tape showed up in colour printing.
We also did colour spotting with inks and sometimes paints.
Large restoration of the prints was done by Ivy the air brush lady who was a terrible clutz in everyday life but did the most fantastic detailed retouching work with paint brush and basic inks.
We would bleach out items of the colour prints using pottasium metabisulphate,pottasium permanganate and dilute sulphuric acid. That would leave a white background on which to work.
Ball point pen was removable using methylated spirits and cotton wool.This was also often used by the mounting room men just to clean off dust and would sometimes unwaringly wipe off the retouching aswell .
Very stubborn Glues from tape etc were removed with tricloethylene which removed marker pen too.
The dark room often used silver cleaner to reduce silver on originals(the wadding stuff you get in a tin).
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  #20  
Old 05-28-2010, 09:50 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Physical (not digital) Solutions to Restoring

thank you, spotter! good stuff there. i especially liked the pen and marker pen solutions.

oh, and welcome to RP!
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