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  • damaged photo still in frame

    I have some large sepia tone photos for retouching that are still in their frames. I am not sure how to proceed.

    There appears to be some sort of watter damage in some areas. It is a darkenning under the glass and other areas of splotchy darkenning. I am not sure if I should try to take the photo out from behind the glass because it might adhere to the glass making the damage much worse. I can get a decent scan with the photo behind the glass but I would like to remove it for a better scan and better starting point to work from digitally.

    My question is:
    Are there any good techniques for removing the photo from the glass without damaging it. I am told by a local frame shop that a hair dryier can be used or soaking the glass and photo to loosen it. The glass is badly cracked on one of them.

    Also what is a good dots per inch resolution to scan at. I plan to have the digital file printed at a local color lab back to sepia tone.

  • #2
    Helo Imago,

    Welcome to the site!

    First off, let's tackle the resolution. If you are not going to enlarge the final output, a resolution of at *least* 150 spi is called for (unless you will reduce the size). Some people believe that 240 to 300 is better, but if your original is large, that will give you large file sizes. If your final output size is to be smaller than the original, you can get by with less resolution, then resize it in your image editor. Do not choose "resample" when you resize. This will give you a higher ppi than the original scan.

    About the photo stuck to the glass. If you can get a good enough scan without taking it out of the frame, that's probably the best way to insure that the original doesn't get damaged. If you do need to get it out of the frame, remove the photo (glass and all) from the frame. Soak the whole thing in warm water (immersed), and let it sit there for a period of time. It might take a couple of hours or a couple of days, depending on how badly it is stuck. Be extremely careful in the following technique. Grab the photo by an unstuck corner, and lift *gently* to pull it away from the glass. If it does not come off easily, do *not* force it. Watch the emulsion as you are doing this. If it begins to lift off of the photo paper, *stop*! Let it soak longer, then try again later. Most photos can be removed with this technique, but occasionally, one just refuses to let go. At this point, the emulsion is soft and fragile. If the photo is not too old, there is a good chance it is on resin-coated (RC) stock. These photos should be dipped in a solution such as photo-flo by Kodak, then hung to dry. This is a wetting agent designed to lessen the tension of the water, and it allows the print to dry spot free. If the photo is not on RC stock, you should dry the photo in a drying blotter specifically made for the purpose. Otherwise, it will probably curl badly when drying. I have done this with many photos, and almost always had good luck. The important thing here is "be careful". Hope this helps.



    • #3
      If the photo is sepiatoned, it's most likely not RC (resin-coated, or more basically, a paper/plastic laminate). It could be RC, but RC didn't come into popularity until the late 1970s.

      Soaking the photos is a viable solution, but extremely dangerous. It should be your last-ditch solution, and be aware it could actually make things worse. This isn't to scare you away from it, just letting you know the facts.

      First scan through the glass, regardless. Then remove the glass from the frame and see if the photo doesn't just drop off on its own. If the photo is obviously stuck in a limited area, you have a decision to make: is it better to risk tearing that one spot, or risk soaking the photo/glass together. That's a call only you can make.

      People should know that, when mounting behind glass, they need to use a mat.
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning


      • #4
        Thanx for the quick replies. A few points about this project.

        I am not a retouck person but rather a person people come to because I have a good working knowlege of PShop from my 3D animation and digital video days. I have been looking at some of the retouching tutorial available on the net for some specific tool beyond the cloning tool for the areas that have the water damage. I feel good about fixing the small rips and tears from the glass cracking and the glass cracks if I have to use the scan from when the phot is still in the glass before I try to get it free. Any good tutorials urls for making the darker damaged bltochy areas areas look right would be appreciated. I foed around with it a bit. I am having trouble with areas that have a lot of detail like facial hair and eyes.

        I am assuming that I can work in grey tones for a smaller file and have the color lab print in sepia. They did something similar to this for me a number of years ago when i had to redo an old photo. I had it scanned for a video I produced. It was mailed to me by mistake, riped up by the post office. I was just lucky the envelope it was in had my address on it. The postman picked it up off a desk at the place that did the scan with no postage. They had it in the wrong pile. I had to pay the postage and then do the retouch for the client.

        These are large. 15 by 19. I only have a standard flat bed scanner. I am goint to try to get one large scan at a blueprint graphics place in town here in stead of tryng to piece it together from multiple scans here.

        Did anyone ever hear of using a hair drier over the glass to loosen the water adhesion?

        Should I be charging by the hour ort some sort of flat rate?


        • #5
          Doug had some good points. I never useed a hair dryer, but I think what will happen is that you will again soften the emulsion in order to get it to release from the glass. The only thing I would be afraid of is that you might soften the emulsion too much, and have a greater risk of damage. Just a thought since I never tried that technique. Good luck.



          • #6
            Hi all,
            I know this thread goes back a ways but I just read it.
            All the info was good but a word of caution. Hair dryers may be good for hair and frozen pipes but for pictures not so good. Many of these unit shoot out little particles of dust, fragments of metal and sometimes residue from the heating elements. Shooting these into a soft rc or paper print can do much damage.


            • #7
              Before you attempt to remove a damaged photo behind glass PLEASE take a copy negative using a medium format camera (preferable) 35mm or a digital camera on a copy stand. Because your images are under glass use a filter to minimize glare.

              Scan the copy negative to repair the images in photoshop. Output the digital file to make a gorgeous Iris print or make a new negative to create an archival print to be sepia toned.

              Good Luck.


              • #8
                I remember reading something about different emulsions. If you are going to soak a print in water, wait till I can dig out my book to see what it says about gelatin. It seems to me that there is more of a chance with gelatin swelling than non-gelatin. I'll report back on this as soon as possible, probably tomorrow.



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