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by Angelina 🙂

Modern Methods for Old Photo Restoration

Most photographs that you see in magazines today have been touched up using digital technology. Blemishes are removed, teeth are whitened and backgrounds are either enhanced or cleared of unsightly elements. The same techniques work wonders with old photo restoration, not only restoring old images to their earlier beauty, but also possibly improving them vastly in the process.

If your aim is the restoration of the original photograph, then it is necessary that you show your photographs to a qualified professional.

If the damage is slight, he will undertake the restoration, which may incorporate any of the methods given below. These techniques require experience, expertise and a very delicate touch, and any restoration work done on the photograph itself can be permanent, so be sure that the professional you choose is competent.

One method of old photo restoration is electronic. The photograph is placed in a scanner and electronic signals from the scanned image are digitalized and projected onto a computer monitor. The restorer can then repair scratches and tears, remove flaws, stains and blemishes and even rebuild missing parts of the image.

The hardware and software for this technology is very sophisticated and requires a highly trained technician to operate it, so the costs involved in this type of restoration can be prohibitive.

Old black and white photographs can be restored using chemicals. A very faded picture can be redeveloped, restoring the metallic silver substance in the photograph that has oxidized and caused the washed out appearance. This method will sometimes result in a dramatic improvement, bringing clarity back to the faded original. Bleaching the old photograph first (before redeveloping it), is even more effective, but there are serious drawbacks to these techniques, which you may want to consider before making a decision. If the old print is fragile, the chemicals used in redeveloping it can degrade the old emulsion and permanently damage it. Using bleach and then redeveloping will change the old photograph forever, and you will be stuck with your new picture, whether you like it or not. If your old photograph is of considerable sentimental value to you, you may prefer a less drastic method of restoration.

Photographs are restored using physical methods as well. One technique is called neutron activation and it is a complex procedure involving neutron irradiation and autoradiography, followed by photography. This method is highly recommended for old photo restoration as it preserves the original photograph, but the technology involved makes it expensive.

Another physical technique is scanning the photograph with x-ray beams and using x-ray fluorescence. This method is also safe for the original photograph, but again, it is expensive and the technology is not fully developed yet.

Airbrushing is a technique that requires a skilled artist, using a special paintbrush that uses compressed air and pigments to “paint” out flaws. The airbrush is highly versatile and apart from fixing imperfections, it can even remove an entire person from a photograph. The only thing an overly zealous artist has to watch out for, is that he does not turn your old photograph into a perfect painting !

The least expensive method is making a copy of your old photograph and then working on the copy with all the digital technology available today. An expert restorer will not only fix various flaws and damaged areas of the photograph; he can also improve the original photography. Blurred images can be sharpened; brightness, contrast and color balance can be corrected and the photograph can be cropped to improve the composition.

A good graphics editing software on your computer will allow you to try your hand at restoring too. Have an extra copy made of the photograph; scan it to your computer and using any of the tutorials available on the net as a guide, restore a copy of the photograph yourself.

Compare the result later with the one that your professional restorer has made and you might be surprised to discover that you have artistic talents too !

Old photographs must be stored carefully to preserve them. Keep old prints flat and lay them between sheets of special acid free paper. You can also use PVC sleeves. The cupboard where you keep them should be clean and dry. Look after your old photographs well and your children will not have to worry about old photo restoration when they inherit these precious pictures.

Author, V. P. Platania,Jr, specializes in writing about custom graphic designs and photo restoration.Visit

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