Scanner v Camera

Posted on November 19, 2018 by Admin under Restoration news

The established way to get an image into your computer is to use a scanner but that has lots of drawbacks when it comes to a three dimensional subject like an Ambrotype, Daguerreotype or Tintype in a union case.

The scanner lens system is designed to focus on the surface closest to the scanner glass.

When the photo is mounted in a case this means it focuses on the surround and mount rather than the image itself. 

Using my system which is a combination of 19th century equipment with 21st century technology I can make sure that the image is sharp in focus and use depth of field to also get the case showing in focus too.

With file sizes over 450mb in HDR raw it allows me great scope to restore and retouch.

Conventional scan from a Canoscan 9000 – the original image is reversed (see his buttons) and it has damage around the edge of the image.
Captured via a tethered Lumix G9 with Leica lens in Hi-Res mode, that creates 8 exposures and stitches them together. Three hi-res images bracketed then HDR in Lightroom 2019 before restoring in PhotoShop CC2019

scanner v camera

close up showing pixelation from scanner
close up showing grain of the original image

Repair Shop – composite images

Posted on September 21, 2018 by Admin under Uncategorized

This is a classic example of light getting on to the surface of a 120 film where the backing paper has come away from the film when loading or unloading. In this circumstance the image has never been there an it’s impossible to get it back. All you can do is rebuild what there is left and put something there that looks like it was supposed to be there.

Even with this work an amateur taken shot like this is never going to be impressive but by combining it with others I can make it something that someone will treasure.

So come to Steve’s Repair Shop and let me put it right for you.


Spotting as it was called.

Posted on by Admin under Uncategorized

The latest image to be restored threw up some interesting details. Since photography started dust on negatives and prints has been a curse. I used to spend hours with an 000 sable brush and a block of black water colour paint filing in white spots on the print where dust had been on the negative. To get a glossy finish on the resulting paint-work we used to mix the paint with the glue off an old envelope on our thumb-nails.

These days it’s a lot easier and quicker though I still do spot at a time. There are ways in photoshop to automate it but it can’t tell if the spot is meant to be there or not. I can.

This image was also covered in squiggly lines in the shadow areas. These were painted onto the negative usually with a pencil and were to reduce the deeper shadows. Again today I use three exposures and convert using a HDR process.

The result is as close to the original as possible.

An Historic Photo

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Admin under Uncategorized

110 years ago there was a National Convention of State leaders to discuss and form the Republic of South Africa. The delegates were photographed for posterity and, 110 years later, an original copy has been sent to me by a descendent of one of the delegates. Damaged over the years with many small cracks and scratches as well as the expected fading it is still a photo of world importance.

I was able to use my high definition copy system to get the best possible detail. It was too large for an A3 scanner so my system was the only way it could be done.

I’m pleased with the result and hopefully the customer will be too.


Using ‘Proof’ Photos

Posted on August 29, 2018 by Admin under Restoration news

In the days when photographers used film at weddings they would produce Proof Prints to show the customer and they would then choose the prints they wanted for the album. Albums usually only had 20 prints in them so they had to choose carefully. The photographers wouldn’t spend time carefully printing the proofs so they would often be quite poorly done, un-retouched, and maybe poor tonally too.

The other thing with Proof Prints were they were overprinted with a label to say they were proofs and not able to be used in the album. But some people couldn’t afford to get the album so kept the proofs.

My latest job is one of those. 57 years ago these were taken. And final prints were never purchased. Now – here’s the dilemma. Officially copyright says that the original photographer hold the copyright for 75 years. However it would be reasonable to presume that if the original photographer is still alive are they still likely to have the negatives? Probably not. You should make reasonable attempt to contact the photographer. As no-one exists on Google with the link it’s safe to assume that we can go ahead and use the image, take the proof block off and rebuild what might have been underneath. The customer also wanted the railings removed at the same time. So here we have three images, one rebuilt foot, one rebuilt hand and one rebuilt cake stand – plus the railings removed.

Repairing a heat affected photo

Posted on August 23, 2018 by Admin under Restoration news

When presented with the latest photo my heart missed a beat as the image was so badly damaged by heat. It was an old black and white photo which had been hand painted. Whilst in it’s frame it had been heated to such an extent that the emulsion had cracked and curled. In places it had fallen off altogether.

The first problem was that it couldn’t be turned upside down for a scanner as the emulsion would slip off. That meant using the copy system which was ideal as the heavy piece of ultra clear glass could hold down and flatten the cracked emulsion.

The high resolution image was then carefully repaired in Photoshop and then colours and fading corrected.

The final result, though not perfect, far surpasses expectation and gives me another happy customer.

Flaked and heat damaged photograph

Hi definition restoration result

Restorations from negatives or prints.

Posted on August 8, 2018 by Admin under Restoration news

As a direct comparison here we have an image taken from a photographic print contemporaneous with the negative versus a modern image taken from the same negative and photographed in Raw at Hi-Res.

Original Print

Print from copied negative

Original 5″ x 4″ negative

Restoring Negatives and Positives

Posted on by Admin under Uncategorized

Many scanners have attachments which allow you to scan negatives. However old film formats are very different to those available today and most negative scanners need a frame to hold the negative in which matches the size of the negative.

With my new copy system I am not restricted by those constraints and can cope with negatives of all sizes, on film or glass. I can use the same method as for prints but raise the platform and bounce light underneath the negative. It gives a huge scan size in great detail.

So if you have an old negative, black and white or colour, and want it restoring then get in touch..

A perfectly restored detailed print from a 100 year old glass negative

a 5in x 4in glass negative .

Fingerprints or no Fingerprints

Posted on July 30, 2018 by Admin under Uncategorized

I decided that the fingerprints on the Daguerreotype were there as the photographer left them and not subsequent damage and so left them . They were distracting though to the image so reduced their contrast down so as not to be too ‘in your face’. I’m not sure why the jpeg has darkened and changed colour but there you go. For print purposes they are perfect.

The finished restored Daguerreotype

Daguerreotype – fingerprints or no fingerprints

Posted on July 29, 2018 by Admin under Uncategorized

When restoring a photo it’s always a balance between preserving the image – which may be a passed relative – or preserving the authenticity.

The image has suffered over many years (178 in this case) with surface damage, light degradation and the copper starting to corrode. I am sure the original photographer would welcome our ability now to present their image back to the way it was before the damage happened. But the fingerprints were made by the original photographer or their assistant. Although they would not want them to be there it does seem a dilemma whether to remove them or not. What do you think? The one on the right isn’t finished yet. Do I remove the prints??

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Specialist Photo Restoration Lancashire, GB
Specialist Photograph Restoration in the UK.  
Stephen Gill DipPP, PGCE: 1 Cann Street, Tottington, Bury, Lancashire, BL8 3PE
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