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Photo Restoration Repairing damaged photos

1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

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  #1  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:24 PM
jim.orrell jim.orrell is offline
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1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

I've done lots of basic photo touching up with photoshop. I'm no professional; my "technique" is scan high, fix what I can without spending too much time. But this time I am really stumped.

I have a large wedding photo of my parents. 1940, black and white, been on show behind glass for many years in a shady room.

There is a lot of detail on the photo that just won't scan. I've tried lots of variations on my canoscan 9900f. For example my father is wearing pin striped trousers, but the stripes just do not appear on the scan, yet there is lots of fine detail in my mother's dress that shows OK.
Copy attached, but the 100K upload limit obviously does not show much detail and the "black" areas show even less detail and so become merged.

The photo does not look faded, but looks as if it has "lost its shine, but I'm sure it was matt originally.

At many angles the photo is not easily seen, especially the dark areas, yet at certain angles the picture looks fine and the detail is perfect.

The only solution I've seen so far is to take a photo of it with light in the right direction, but I don't have a camera that would do it justice.

Is there any preparation that can be done to the photo to stop it "shining"? Any special scanning techniques? Is there a way of changing the light direction in scanners? Are some kinds of scanners better at this than others? Could it simply be a thin layer of dirt, but I'm reluctant to do too much cleaning?

I'm no perfectionist, but I don't like to loose detail when I can see it in front of me.

By the way, great site, why have I not discovered it before.

Jim
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:10 PM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Jim, welcome to RetouchPro. Have a look around and enjoy. Nice to have you onboard.

Have you scanned in color with all adjustments turned off?

Even if it is a B/W or Grayscale picture it is always better to scan in color since the color channels may contain details (like the stripes) that might otherwise get lost...
So change to Color, True Color, Vivid Color or whatever color settings you have.
Turn off "Fare" and all dust & scratch removal, and any denoising, despeckle etc.. and off on all automatic settings like levels, brightness/contrast, color, etc.,.

You can also turn the photo 90 degrees and 180 degrees to scan with a different light angle.
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:05 PM
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crazyfly1 crazyfly1 is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

What OlBaldy said, and try scanning 2 or 3 times each exposing for different parts of the image. Blend them togather in PS.
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:58 AM
jim.orrell jim.orrell is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Many thanks for those suggestions.

2 things seem to have helped.

<> the scanning in colour (800 dpi), then convert to greyscale; has made a big difference, but not there yet. Is that because the scanner reads 3 different colours from different angles?

<> I cleaned a corner of the photo with a damp cloth which left a grey/brown deposit on the cloth. The scan of the table was almost perfect after that. But I am reluctant to clean the whole picture yet.
- What was the grey/brown deposit I was removing? Is it anything important that would upset the long term stability of the photo?
- If I do clean the photo, what is the best solution/solvent? I've seen references to isopropyl alcohol for cleaning slides and moldy prints, but that sounds a bit strong.
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Old 07-12-2008, 04:19 AM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Make sure you have the best scan possible before attempting to clean the photo... you may wind up with a bunch of muddy streaks and/or missing emulsion, or a lot of uneven areas at best..
The deposits left on the cloth could be dust, silver deposits from the emulsion, or mold spores which may have eaten into the face of the photo.. If you are intent on cleaning proceed with extreme caution and make sure you have a back up copy!

I will leave it to others to suggest ways to clean the print.. but it would seem to me that if you can see all the detail as you stated above with the naked eye, then it should be possible to make an acceptable copy without taking the chance of ruining the original.. Remember the first rule in restoration.. Never work on the original! Always work on a copy!... you will always need the original later for something... T'is Murphy's Law!!

forgot to add... don't just convert to grayscale.. check the channels first and see which ones have the most detail then try channel mixer

Last edited by 0lBaldy; 07-12-2008 at 04:25 AM. Reason: added some info
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:54 AM
jim.orrell jim.orrell is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

I've searched further on the web for solutions that might be used for cleaning and it looks like I've got a common case of SILVER MIRRORING. Common it might be but there seems little documentation outside academic circles, and even less for treatment. I did come across this site:
http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~arfried/glassbib.shtml
which suggests that some of the silver migrates to the surface, hence causing the shiny reflection.

The only cure seems to be to wipe it of with various solutions:
"filtered tap water (pH 7.2), a 1:1 mixture of water and ethyl alcohol, and a dispersion of the proprietary surfactant Kodak Photo-Flo 200 Solution in water (1 drop Photo-Flo to 100 ml. water)."

This might cause fading (or rather show the hidden fading), which might be curable digitally.

Also referenced here:
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP1227370.html
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Old 07-12-2008, 01:34 PM
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Jim, if OlBaldy was too subtle, let me try and help. Stop. You’re working with a one of a kind, 68 year old family heirloom. Just stop. Leave the original intact and just do what you can in storing it to assure that no further damage takes place. Your children, nieces, nephews etcetera may like to have the photo. It could happen that in your lifetime scanners will get much better. Photoshop just jumped to 32 bit and there are companies working on 64 bit. You may decide to take the photo to a professional to have it scanned on professional equipment that has much greater capability than yours. Point is, any inadvertent damage you do to your photo is permanent. No one will ever have a better copy of their Great great grandparents wedding than the one that old Grandpa Jim left for them way back in the double zeros.

The photo you posted looks decent for it’s age. Post the best scans you can get on a site outside RP at full resolution and I’m sure someone here can walk you through the edit so you end up with something that you are very happy with.
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:56 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Might want to read through this

http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...ent-photo.html

Also do a search for silvering and read the rest of the threads that cover this.

And I agree with the others, keep your cotton pickers off the original.
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Old 07-12-2008, 04:10 PM
jim.orrell jim.orrell is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

Many thanks for the warnings.

Believe it or not I am a very cautious kind of guy. I'm also aware that the research I've seen is not conclusive, which surprises me as it seems to be a well known problem in the "archive" world. And after all it might be something different!

So as I don't need it yet, I'll leave it a while. However, what I do have is 2 sets of 2 photos. I think when granddad died we also inherited his copy. One of the duplicate photos is a in a very marked state so I could eventually experiment with that.

If anyone is interested I've uploaded a better image (just a portion of it to show the offending parts) to:
http://img104.imagevenue.com/img.php..._122_470lo.jpg
(something else I've learned about).
This is better than the original greyscale scan, as suggested I scanned in colour, and converted to greyscale. The detail is better on this, but nowhere near the original print. The problem with the scan is easily seen where dark meets dark. e.g. dark suit meets dark backcloth. The original has real definition around the suit. I'm sure it's not my scanner as on other photos I have no problem getting the detail.

Thanks for all your help, I've learnt a lot already.
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Old 07-12-2008, 04:44 PM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: 1940 B&W photo, dark detail will not scan

I hate to be a PITA but could you put up the colored scan also?
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