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enhancing faded writing on old photo

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  • enhancing faded writing on old photo

    Long time no see all...

    My workload has increased by about 200% this semester, so I haven't had time to drop in lately.

    Now that it's the holidays and I do have a bit of time, I'm trying to help a co-worker with an old family photo. She has no idea who is in this photo.

    While working on it, I noticed some very faded handwriting at the bottom of the image, and that's what I'm requesting help on today. The writing might help identify the people in the photo. (file is attached).

    Does anyone have any good technique for bringing out writing like this? I'm playing around with various adjustment layers, layer blending, etc. While I'm getting improved results, I'm not finding any technique (so far) that really pulls out the information I'm needing in the image.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Happy Holidays to all!



    Lance Goins
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Welcome back Lance. I recently had a wedding certificate from 1879 that was in worse shape than this one. I scanned the signature at the highest optical resolution my scanner would allow. Then I was able to blow it up considerably (maybe 900%?). and from there I was able to make out the actual writing. At that point, I eliminated all the dirt pixels that were on the original. When I was finished, I could actually read the signature!

    Here's an attachment of yours that I just used a curves adjustment layer on. The original scan would likely show up better than this. I'm guessing there might have been someone named Roxanna in the family?

    Ed
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Ed,

      Thanks for that info. My problem is that I dont' have access to the original scan (it's in Germany), so all I received was the jpeg the cousin had sent to my coworker via email. At least it was scanned fairly large with 300dpi, so it could have been worse.

      I'll let her know that the name could be Roxanna. I had part of the X, but wasn't sure if I was correct with that letter or not.

      Thanks again,
      Lance

      Comment


      • #4
        Here's the whole original pic. I applied a level adjustment to brighten it a bit, and cleaned up the major cracks and stains.
        I reduced it down from several megs to about 96k in size, so it is quite a bit smaller than the original.
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          That's a very interesting photo, and it seems to be in pretty good shape. Too bad the people can't be identified. The shadows look good. Is there any way to pull more detail out in the highlights?

          If the photo was made in Germany, the name probably wouldn't be Roxanna. That was a guess on my part. But it does look like it might be ??xanna. The might give some clues if you were to look into common names used in that period in Germany, if that's where it's from.

          Ed
          Last edited by Ed_L; 12-18-2003, 02:53 PM.

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          • #6
            Do you have the original before any retouching?
            I don't know what I see - a guess? dana, dane, sana, sane?
            Attached Files

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            • #7
              Here's a link to the untouched version that I received (it's too big for the size limits here):

              unknown family original jpeg - 351kb

              I'm 99% sure this wasn't taken in Germany. The German cousin said he thought it was taken in the U.S., and the farmhouse isn't built in the German style. Also, the box under the little girl says "American" something in the label print.

              I suggested to my coworker that her cousin check his original scan, and look at each color channel. If the scan was in color, one channel might show the original ink better than the combination of all the channels does. The image was already converted to grayscale when I received it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hmmm, now it looks like xoana. Here's a tip..when you have something like text of any kind that can't be read, it sometimes helps if you enlarge the image to the point where you can't read it (it looks worse). Then stand back from the monitor. I viewed this image (the original) at 200%, then stood back about 8 or 10 feet. It became a little easier to read. It doesn't work every time, but it's worth a try.

                Another thing to keep in mind is that many people in that time period could not spell very well. Names have been changed completely because of this problem. Now you have two things. Handwriting that is hard to read because of deterioration or dirt, and a good chance of incorrect spelling.

                Ed

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                • #9
                  It looks like it could be Elonora possibly.

                  Joseph

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                  • #10
                    colorized, contrast adjust and level adjust, then I did a color replace on the known part of the text to darken it a bit.

                    Looks like sana or sona to me. Let's not assume it's an english name, Sona is a Swedish woman's name that is pretty common.
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks to everyone for all the input. My coworker will share all this info with her cousin in Germany who has the original photo, so maybe they can determine who this is in the image.

                      Happy Holidays!


                      Lance

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                      • #12
                        Lance,

                        If you get an identification, please let us know. It would be interesting to see how we did.

                        Ed

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                        • #13
                          nothing yet

                          Just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten. I still haven't heard anything yet.



                          Lance






                          Originally posted by Ed_L
                          Lance,

                          If you get an identification, please let us know. It would be interesting to see how we did.

                          Ed

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            non-informative update

                            Just wanted to post an update.... still no idea on what the text might say.

                            My coworker has checked with everyone she can think of in her close and extended family, and no one has a clue. She said there is a family reunion coming up soon, so they will all try to show the photo there as well to see if anyone has an idea on it.


                            Lance

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the update Lance. Good luck with it. Keep us posted.

                              Ed

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