Photo Restoration

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Photos are often cherished like treasures, but like many treasures they become fragile as time wears on. Photographic prints are chemical prints — that is, they consist of photo-sensitive chemicals suspended in a gel-like layer called an emulsion on a backing of paper, or in the case of film, on a layer of celluloid.

There are a variety of factors that can damage prints over time: Sunlight and UV exposure can cause fading and discoloration, humidity and water can cause warping, cracking, and mold, and there are any number of rips, tears, and creases that can be caused by improper storage or handling. Sometimes, even with great care, just being exposed to oxygen can ruin photos, causing paper to deteriorate and the chemicals that create the image itself to break down.

Typical Damage and Restoration
Rips and tears

This is an example of a heavy restoration job on a photo that is nearly a century old. The original image is 9″ x 36″ and had large cracks every few inches due to being rolled up, as well as a large section on the left being torn away completely. Since the original photo was too fragile to scan on a roll scanner it was scanned in separate sections and pieced back together.


Here is an example of “silvering” — the silver oxide that creates the dark areas of the photo break down and result in a bluish tint that mars the picture. This example has had the effect corrected while preserving the antique tint. Additional splotchy blemishes caused by the chemical breakdown have been removed as well.


Colour Cast

While some photographers might add filters to their digital photos to achieve a retro look, a lot of life can be added back by removing the “color cast” from photos that have aged. This photo is a little over thirty years old, and is much more natural and vibrant after having it’s color restored, as well as having a few scratches and cracks fixed for good measure.

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