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Newbie - scanning & restoring albumen prints

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Old 05-08-2003, 10:15 AM
catcoop catcoop is offline
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Newbie - scanning & restoring albumen prints


I'm a newbie - not just to this forum but to scanning and restoring photos. So, please be "gentle" with me as I don't understand a lot of the terms used in the posts or tutorials on the site!

I am scanning some old photos, most from the 1860s, and trying to restore them (for personal use) using PSP7. The tintypes aren't giving me too much trouble, but the albumen prints are awful! I would appreciate any advice on how to proceed with these to get some good images. The biggest problem that I'm having is that the photos are so faded. When I adjust the contrast or use fade correction in PSP, then the paper texture, foxing, etc. are extremely apparent on the entire photo.

I am scanning the photos on my ScanJet 5370C as true color at a resolution of 300 dpi. Most of the photos are 2.5 x 4, but I am resizing them on the scanner to an approximate 4x6 size. I tried scanning them in as grey scale (hoping for maybe a clear black and white photo) but didn't get better results.

What am I doing wrong, and what can I do about all the spotting, texture, etc?

I'm attaching a sample photo that has only been scanned and not retouched.

Thanks so much for any help.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg testcwc.jpg (97.4 KB, 200 views)
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Old 05-08-2003, 02:34 PM
TheTexan TheTexan is offline
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First I would always recommend scanning an image into Photoshop in a completely unaltered state. There is nothing the scanning software can do that PS cant do so it is better to start with an image's complete unaltered data. Make sure your scanner is set to do nothing in the way of data manipulation such as auto exposure, auto color or contrast control, no color correction or profiles etc. Then make sure your monitor is close to accurate. That way you can work in PS to correct what you need.

I played with the image a bit and as with many of these faded images the more you bring out the image the more you also bring out the problems like discoloration and damage and noise etc. Some of these add to the character of the image and shouldnt be fixed in my oppinion but that is an artistic determination and only you can say when enough is enough.

I had the most luck with the patch tool to homogenize the texture and artifacts and used a inverse color to take out the yellowish cast resulting in a more sepia tone. There isnt enough data to work with that you can make it as new but that is it's charm.

Ill post my results when Im thru.

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Old 05-09-2003, 02:29 PM
catcoop catcoop is offline
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Re: Newbie scanning & restoring advice

Hi Tex,

Thank you for the response and the great advice.

I'm using Paint Shop Pro v. 7. Do you know what "patch" equivalent would be in this program?

I tried a few of the tools in PSP, such as salt and pepper and scratch remover but lost too much detail in the photo.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply!

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Old 05-09-2003, 03:51 PM
sdubose99 sdubose99 is offline
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Catherine, PSP has the Clone Brush and Scratch Remover

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Old 05-09-2003, 08:24 PM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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Catherine, First off, what a wonderful photo. The sulfiding deterioration is rather marked and unfortunately there is no way to stop it or reverse the damage. Attempting to do too much of a restore on these types of photos tends to make them look very unnatural and can actually cause you to loose detail.
I work extensively with these older type photos and have found that in many cases simply boosting the contrast with curves ( or the Paint shop pro equal) to bring out as much detail as possible, then using the clone brush to get rid of the largest spots of foxing, repair the major scratches and so on then quiting is the best route to go.
Too much use of median filter or similar "cleaning" tools will only degrade the image further. Concentrate on bringing out the image and dont worry about getting a perfect wont happen. Preserve the image as best you can, the "warts and freckles" only add character to these wonderful old prints.
You might also try to obtain pH neutral storage sleeves for the originals and store them in an environment where the relative humidity is around 45% and the temp around 50 degrees or so...give or take. High humidity and temp along with UV light will accelerate the fading.
In short, dont worry about a perfect restore. Just bring out the image, clone over the major bad spots and stop....that way you preserve the background props, details of the clothing etc., all of which are valuable visual historical information......Good luck, Tom
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Old 05-10-2003, 12:29 AM
sdubose99 sdubose99 is offline
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Catherine, one thing to consider is a program called Neat Image. I have found many people over-use it, but if used sparingly it can achieve what you are looking for. Sorry I don't have PSP, only Photoshop so I can't give any ideas that are specific to PSP. But this is only one possible solution -- I know other of the great people on this forum will suggest something more elegant.

- as Tom said, curves correction on the b&w version of the color scan. On b&w images I like to either work in LAB mode (does PSP allow working in LAB mode?) or just work on the best RGB channel you have that shows the most detail and least noise/damage. Sometimes you will have mold that is a certain color and shows in one channel and not others.

This produces a grainy-er image so we need to smoothe out the noise. Neat Image is designed specifically to address that problem. I've attached my quick attempt with Neat Image and a large radius unsharp mask, including a sepia colorization.

And I trust that the 300dpi scan will come out much better than this...

Attached Images
File Type: jpg cwc-compare-low.jpg (91.0 KB, 145 views)

Last edited by sdubose99; 05-12-2003 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 05-12-2003, 12:36 PM
dipech dipech is offline
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What dpi to scan at?

This is probably a dumb question but something I need to resolve. If I scan an old photo at 240dpi won't I then pick up less of the scratches and damage (thereby cutting down the amount of restoration necessary) than if I scan at 300 or higher where the damage is much more visible? If you do the scan at 240, can't you just later sharpen to get back any needed detail or definition that is lost by not scanning at 300? With a very old, faded picture where the faces are quite faint, what would be the recommended dpi to scan at?

Thanks for any feedback on this,
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:42 PM
jesterjeni jesterjeni is offline
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Re: Newbie - scanning & restoring albumen prints

I gave this a shot
here it is

I used noiseware and photoshop elements and simply clarifyed it a little
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File Type: jpg francis-copy-merged_pch_filtered.jpg (88.5 KB, 57 views)
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:09 PM
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aartist aartist is offline
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Re: Newbie - scanning & restoring albumen prints

Reduced Fad and Lighten/Darkened areas.
Second photo has reduced noise, then added noise back.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg testcwc2.jpg (99.1 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg testcwc3.jpg (96.6 KB, 51 views)

Last edited by aartist; 06-22-2010 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 06-22-2010, 02:28 PM
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philbach philbach is offline
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Re: Newbie - scanning & restoring albumen prints

Well I believe you should always scan in color

Next check the channels. In this case the blue channel seemed to be the best preserved channel. So I used (in photoshop) The channel mixer adjustment layer to convert the image to a B&W using the blue channel.

Next I used level/Curves to increase the contrast and definition
Then I used Neat Image to decrease the noise
Finally I placed the Sepia tone back in.
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File Type: jpg MissSepia1.jpg (191.4 KB, 59 views)
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