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90-100 year old glued photos

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  • 90-100 year old glued photos

    I am trying to preserve my grandmother's photo album, by scanning, revitalizing the pictures, etc.

    She glued the photos on that black paper that used to be used for photo albums.

    I just scan the whole page in and crop from there.

    There are two things going on -- it could be that I could benefit from cleaning (somehow) the photos before scanning.

    The second thing is I suspect the glue has leaked through. There is sort of a blue haze in places on the black and whites.

    As you gain clarity in the photo unfortunately it makes the people look like they have a very bad case of acne at times. I have no success in trying to resolve that without getting too much of a blur.

    Anyone have any thoughts? I just love seeing these old photos and would like to do the best job possible, but it sure seems like things pop out once you get rid of the fading, etc.


  • #2
    Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

    Judy, it is difficult to assess the problem from your description. It would be best if you could attach a sample scan which is representative of the areas that require retouching.
    Regards, Murray


    • #3
      Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

      At some point, I know I saw how you all wanted thumbnails attached, but have looked and not been able to find that out. However, I uploaded some pictures to a website I own that I keep using for other things than its original purpose.

      Dad1 is the original as scanned in. I have worked it a number of times and sometimes end up with him nearly deformed from acne! Never does it make me happy. I have lots of problems with the bright brights and dark darks in that one too.

      The great grandmother series, there is the original as in the name. Then the one called great grandmother spangenberg is the pix after I have tried to make it better. If you look at it at 100% you will see there is just some awful mess on the left side of the baby's face and her face. It is like no features are left. It is similar to what I get on most of them. Then just for the general amusement of it all I put in the reconstructed one where I took the good half of their faces, flipped them, and blended. This isn't always possible!

      I assume all of this has to do with aging though of course from the original scanned you don't know that it is there. I blame it on the glue but perhaps I am wrong.

      I consider these things treasures and would love to preserve them for the family (though they probably don't care -- pearls before swine, etc.)

      Thanks for your help!



      • #4
        Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

        It might be what is called "silvering"

        If you do a search on here you will find hours of information about it and how to correct it.


        • #5
          Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

          That is fascinating about silvering. I had never heard of such a thing. However, it seemed to make things worse to follow the technique. The results have an interesting texture, and it looks like someone has walked across the photo wearing boots of something.

          I am beginning to wonder how I ever got it to the point of a severe case of acne!



          • #6
            Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

            Judy, in order to analyse what you are dealing with, I would recommend the following:
            - Do not scan an entire sheet. Select one representative photo and focus the scan on it and just scan that one image.
            - Scan in Color (not B&W), even if the photo is only B&W. Different colors will respond differently to the spots and silvering (you may also have mold spots on the photo).
            - Scan at a resolution of 1200 or 2400 dpi if you can
            - Uncheck all of the scanner options - No Auto Levels, no auto color, no descreen, no anything. Do not let the scanner software do anything except capture the photo and transfer it into PS.
            - Scan the print, then rotate the image 90 degrees for another scan, then rotate 45 degrees for a 3rd scan. If you do have silvering, often a scan at a different angle will mitigate some of the effect.
            - Save the scan file as a PSD or TIFF, at least for the master copy. You make jpg copies later.
            With old, faded photos it is key to extract all possible detail from a scan in order to assess it and decide the best approach to retouching it.
            Regards, Murray


            • #7
              Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

              As part of a large family history project I have been scanning tons of old images, including those overglued into the black paper albums a hundred years ago and some that had the silvering issue.

              For the black paper album images I would do a page at a time using an Epson Expression 1600, which software allows for multiple selections in the preview (ie, batch scanning).

              I noticed if I peeked under the edges of some of the images glued into the albums I could see pencil writing on the back. So after doing proper hi-res scans for archiving purposes and with the permission of the album's current owner, I peeled each image from the pages enough to determine if there was writing.

              If there was, I carefully peeled the image away from the paper as much as possible, though inevitably some globs of paper would remain attached. A quick experiment with scraping the paper off with an Xacto knife proved more damaging and ineffective than it was worth, so (based on years of doing darkroom work) I got the idea to soak the photos in water (!). After all, that's how they were developed in the first place.

              The result was that the remaining paper loosened and floated away, leaving the writing (mostly) visible. Turns out there were no great revelations but a few tidbits of info were gleaned that would otherwise have remained hidden. And the photos dried out again as one would expect.

              As for the silvering, follow mistermonday's suggestion to scan from different angles but take it a step further – load all 4 scans into PS, align the layers, and erase the areas of each layer that show silvering. The result should be as clear an image as you're going to get. (I did not research other methods of dealing with the problem, so there may be an easier way.) The Healing brush goes a long way toward cleaning up the rest of the mess.


              • #8
                Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                I am not sure it is silvering, as when I tried the described way to get rid of it, things got worse, or apparently so. You can't really tell from the original images as they are quite faded. So, the problem comes after you have worked with it to try and make it more in contrast, clearer, etc. Your idea of erasing on each layer seems like a good one if in fact they do vary and you can see it. As I read the recommendation before that was not done, and perhaps is the reason things got worse. In silvering could you see it right after you scanned or did it pop up later?

                There is some visible stuff on the front of the images at times -- did you find a way to clean the photos before scanning. I think that would help. It would have to be fixable with a Q-tip or something as these photos show no inclination to leave the page. I grandmother could do something it was glue!

                My grandmother did write in white ink or something on the pages so the pictures are identified which is wonderful, though from my work so far the best way to keep pictures is to just throw them loose in a container. Dad put them in plastic sleeves and the plastic stuck to the surface.



                • #9
                  Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                  In my experience the silvering showed up right away. I am attaching a quick photo (not scan) of one of the problem photos that shows the effect. For those of you in the neighborhood, the pic was taken at 177 Fairview Ave. Jersey City circa 1902. The houses are still there; the porches aren't.

                  I did not attempt to clean the surfaces of the photos (unless it was loose schmutz that brushed off easily), choosing rather to use the Healing tool later to pop them out. I also found Photoshop's Shadow/Highlight feature invaluable for fixing the extreme tones of the old images. In a few cases I needed to reduce noise using DeNoise or Noiseware.

                  I was checking your reconstruction and grandma looks a bit inbred! ;-) I think you flipped the good side onto the shadow area but need to rotate it counterclockwise a bit more to match the angle of the original.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                    Thanks for the example of silvering. If that is what it looks like it might be there on just a couple of pictures but is not what is going on with most of them.

                    You know on reconstructed grandma I will look at that again. I was mostly fooling around when I did it and for some reason merged layers and can't get back at the half layers. It is a separate psd file, though, so I can go back to unmerged and start again on the flipping. It wasn't just that her face was in shadow though, if you look closely that whole side of the face looks like she has some dire skin disease that has eaten it away. Perhaps it is how I will have to go, but very few do I have that opportunity. From another picture her eyes were very close together, which was what I noticed.

                    I was playing around this morning and it seemed like scanning at a higher resolution brought in more problems. Perhaps that makes sense. Also, the scanner has something called tonal adjustments that it keeps setting as on and I turned off for the pictures of Dad I scanned in later. It looks better to me, from what I can see through the haze, with it turned on. It is really hard for me to tell as the pictures are so faded. His picture definitely was not one with a glossy finish, BTW.



                    • #11
                      Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                      Sometimes you do the best you can and move on, especially when you have hundreds of photos to deal with and no one's paying for the work ;-).

                      Here are a couple of examples of 4x5 prints I scanned. I have since returned the originals but I recall a pinkish/brownish faded look to them. These seem to have been home-developed images from the turn-of-the-century and were badly faded. Some extreme Levels adjustments brought out the subjects as well as they could be (the second image is a person with two dogs). Now I wish I knew who they were!
                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                        Those really are in bad shape, particularly the second one. The pinkish sounds like what I have. Worse thing is the one of my father graduating I did better with it originally. I can't make it nearly as clear now. My technique is going backwards! That is very discouraging. I had been going back every once in a while trying to make it better.


                        • #13
                          Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                          Maybe upload a raw copy to the forum and we can have a go.


                          • #14
                            Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                            How would I get a raw copy? It would just have to come from the scanned copy. It couldn't add additional info.


                            • #15
                              Re: 90-100 year old glued photos

                              Right, I meant the pre-retouched version of your scan ("raw" as opposed to a DSLR's "RAW").


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