The Digital Restoration Process

Since this is the beginning of this website I thought that the first blog should start with some information about my most popular product, (in a general sense), restored historical images. 

The first big issue with historical images is their original quality. Unfortunately photographs and other images are much the same as computer programs, garbage in, garbage out; or as a friend of mine used to like to say, "you can't polish a terd, and even if you could, it would still be a terd."

The second big issue is, (so far as I am aware), there isn't any canned program that can restore any of these images at the click of a mouse. I do my restorations by hand, step by step, using techniques that I've found through experimentation. The process of restoration can take from a few hours to a few days depending on the quality and detail of the image.

This is one of my latest restorations. In addition to digitally restoring the 19th century original, I cropped the photo to distill it down to the primary element, the women greeting each other.

This is the original photograph that I began with. Colors fading, the original quality of the image and deterioration of the image are all issues that have to be delt with on an individual basis. 

This image should give you some idea of the color fading and deterioration (white and/or black spots) that are part of the original. looking closely you can also see some of the lines and patterns that are digital noise, all of which look really, really bad when you print an unrestored photograph at 13x19.

The images in this blog are actually some of the best ones that I work with for restoration purposes. I always start with the image quality, repairing defects and eliminating noise. If I can't get a decent image at this stage I discard the image, and I do discard a lot of images.

If I can get a good image it's now time to look at cropping it. Sometimes one good image can be a great one by cropping out extranious elements. Restoring faded colors if there are any, adding them if there weren't, or changing the color photograph to black and white are all options to be considered from the aesthetic standpoint.

I think that this will give you some idea of why the whole process of restoration, resizing and aesthetics can take from several hours to several days. I hope this brief introduction was interesting for you. It's time for me to get back to work.


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