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Photo Restoration, Finding Truth or Creating Illusion?

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  • Photo Restoration, Finding Truth or Creating Illusion?

    Hi all - I am currently photoshopping an extremely damaged photo from the 1880's for a family. It has been taped back together on the front. It was in at least 3 major pieces, and there is a grime layer on top of water stains and scratches and wax. So as I am working, I am asking myself how much of what I do is about finding the truth which is in the print? And how cloning from here and there to recreate roof lines, and grass, and to reconstruct facial details, changes the historical value of the image? How much of what we do is about creating the illusion of the thing made whole?
    My client understands that this is about reconstructing the major problems. There is a certain level of small cracks and flaws that I can't possibly get to even with 20 hours of work. I am kicking myself fo not trying to wipe it down with film cleaner before scanning. Any thoughts on film cleaning antique prints? Gerry

  • #2
    We have a couple of conservators who are members of RP. Hopefully, one of them will see the thread, and offer suggestions on cleaning and historical value. In the meantime, be aware that there were different processes, and certain types of images are affected by different things. The first thing you need to do is to identify the process, then do a little research before putting any chemical or cleaning solution on the image. There are many things that can be put on antique images, that won't show adverse effects immediately. But they might completely destroy the image in time. So before you do any cleaning, it is my suggestion that you know what you are about to do before you do it. You might want to check out the historical processes threads, which were submitted by Thomasgeorge. I'm not sure if there is any information about cleaning artifacts, but the reading is worth the effort. I think a soft gum eraser can be used carefully to remove some dirt from emulsions, but be very careful.



    • #3
      You ask a good question. I have thought of this before. I have in my own mind a definition of a "picture" and an "image". I believe we have to be careful not have "dishonesty" in an image.

      In dealing with photo restoration for individuals, however, I believe there is great lea way. What you are dealing with is more emotional. Trying to "tie people together" in a spiritual sense. I personally believe that whatever you need to do to achieve that result is O.K. If you were doing some sort of a historical restoration for a museum, then I would think you would have to be far more careful about being historically accurate.

      This may not be making very much sense to anyone, but I understand what I am trying to say.


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