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Rephotographing Old Photos

Discussion in 'Projects & Ongoing Work' started by terse, 15 April 2017.

  1. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    Everyone's invited to join in this thread to add photos of your own, comments, and tips & techniques.

    By chance, I became the current caretaker of several large boxes of family photos covering the last 100+ years, with one or two dating to the US Civil War. Previously I've scanned and reprinted a number of these using my desktop equipment, but now I've decided to see what I can do using mobile photography and editing only. I hope to try out different photo setups to see what gives the best results and eventually to try restoring some of the better photos (something I've done before in Photoshop but never tried on an iPhone/iPad). Who knows, maybe I'll even take a shot at colorizing some?

    Again, everyone's invited! Dig out your old photo prints or negatives, and let us see what you've got and anything you've learned in the process.
     
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  2. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    These first photos were all shot handheld, laying each piece on a flat surface by a window and hovering above with an iPhone using the native camera app. I've done only a little editing and no restoration so that you can get a feel for what the originals look like.

    First up, two photos from 1902, of my maternal grandmother, Laura Jones, with three of her friends in her room at "Ma Park's boarding house" while she was attending Fremont Teacher's College in Nebraska. According to my grandmother's notes on the back, the ladies are, from left to right, Miss Cora Foxworthy, Miss Addie Mills, Miss Ina Shea, and Miss Laura Jones.

    IMG_5831.JPG

    IMG_5833.JPG

    There are no notes from Laura about why everyone's cracking up in the second photo. Perhaps because the photographer just stumbled into the camera and knocked it off angle?

    Note the ink bottles on the table along with the books and glasses.
     
    Last edited: 15 April 2017
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  3. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    About 1904. Laura Jones has just married Wilford Reed, and they're living in either Fremont or Hastings, Nebraska. As modern young folks, they're also part of the cycling craze.

    IMG_5835.JPG

    IMG_5834.JPG

    As you can see in these two photos, the quality of the original prints can vary quite a bit, even allowing for deterioration from age. The print of the second image is much lower resolution than the first.
     
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  4. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    Also circa 1904. This dude is Thomas Jefferson Jones, Laura's father and my great-grandfather, sitting on the porch of Laura and Wilford's house. Note the zither propping the door open. I decided not to crop out the tears, crooked cuts, and album page background just to show the photo as I found it.

    IMG_5836.JPG

    This other dude, sitting on the same porch with Laura, is Emerson Reed, Civil War veteran, Wilford's father, and also my great-grandfather.

    IMG_5837.JPG
     
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  5. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    If you've ever wondered about the cyanotype filter you sometimes see in apps... This is a cyanotype print, made 100+ years ago from the same glass negative used for the third image in this thread. (I thought the cyanotype filters in mobile apps were too blue to be real, but I was wrong.:lol:)

    Snapseed.jpg
     
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  6. ImageArt

    ImageArt MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    Wow, what awesome photos and actually in great condition. I don't have anything anywhere near as old as that! I think the ladies in the first shot are all posing with their eyes wide and in the second shot that's what they are laughing about.

    I restored two photos for a friend of mine from faded brown to colour. I found it almost easier now to do it on the iPad rather than Photoshop. Retouch often did a better job of removing spots. From memory I think I used Snapseed, iColorama, Retouch and the different coloured layers in Procreate. I think I also used Facetune. I converted the photos to BW before converting them to colour but I struggled with the second photo where the face seemed to come out looking 'dirty' when I printed it because of the grey base so would maybe keep the actual base light pink for face but then not sure this would work. Snapseed did a great job of bringing out some of the detail.
    IMG_2347.JPG
    IMG_2346.JPG
    IMG_2348.JPG
    IMG_2349.JPG

    PS I knew them both well at that age but also had coloured photos of them to get the colouring right.
     
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  7. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    I can believe that. I doubt that the phrase "deer in the headlights" was around then, but that's definitely the look.:D

    (I'll work my way up to more recent times eventually.)
     
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  8. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    I've been wondering about that! I haven't tried it yet, but I prefer doing just about everything I can on my iPad rather than in Photoshop these days (except printing, which is still yuck on mobile devices).
     
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  9. MotownLarry

    MotownLarry MobiPassionista

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    I use the Unfade Pro app which is designed to take pictures of photo albums, etc. This is one of my maternal grandmother in about 1915. Love the shoes.
    IMG_0932.JPG
     
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  10. MotownLarry

    MotownLarry MobiPassionista

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    My father at age 4 in 1920 with 3 of his siblings. (2nd from right. He was the youngest of 17.)
    IMG_0931.JPG
     
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  11. MotownLarry

    MotownLarry MobiPassionista

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    My maternal great-grandfather
    IMG_2394.JPG

    My paternal great-grandfather
    IMG_2393.JPG
     
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  12. MotownLarry

    MotownLarry MobiPassionista

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    I guess what I've tried to show is how easy it is to digitize photos be they in an album or hanging on a wall.
     
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  13. RHKing

    RHKing MobiAddict

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    Ted, these are all an absolute treat to see! Personally, I wouldn't do too much by way of retouching, the tears, fold and blemishes are all part of the history of these precious artefacts. Aside from contrast, exposure and sharpness or clarity I honestly think that you would lose a lot of the character of the images. Scanning them is a must, archiving in a few photo books, for me, would be an absolute necessity. I've done a lot of restoration and retouching of family photos and wherever possible I have tried to keep them as authentic as possible. The real danger is that by rendering a lot of retouching and enhancing it is possible that they may end up looking like 'renactments' if they are too clean and new looking.

    I'd love to see more. The cyanotype is wonderful!
     
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  14. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    You've done that. Great results you got from Unfade Pro! That photo of your grandmother came out especially well. Any idea how old she was there?
     
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  15. MotownLarry

    MotownLarry MobiPassionista

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    She was about 17. (I was going to mention that, but lost my way.;))
     
  16. rizole

    rizole MobiLurver

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    Hand held pic taken next to the window with the daylight LED lighting on. You can see some banding on the right of the photo from the LEDS so I'll try the next without them.

    My first observation is many of my old photos are curved. I had to place a glass on each edge of this to get it to lie flat. This is my dad and his sister, taken around 1935 ish. tmp_16810-20170416_105853-01-1777738463.jpeg
    My second observation is I have nothing I can add colour to pictures with except filters, which don't hold mich interest for me in this kind of project.
    Tried this in Snapseed just brushing temperature on. tmp_16810-20170416_105853-01-01686350179.jpeg
     
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  17. Starzee

    Starzee MobiLurver MobiSupporter

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    What an awesome idea for a thread!!!
     
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  18. RoseCat

    RoseCat ExBest AppWhore... Site Staff MobiSupporter

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    That works quite well! I think ProCreate on an iPad would also be an excellent choice to add color.
     
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  19. lisamjw

    lisamjw MobiStaff Site Staff

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    Fantastic images, everyone! Thank you, Ted, for starting this thread!!
     
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  20. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    Neat! And look at the size of that collar!

    I think you're right that filters aren't going to do it for coloring a photo. It takes something with a paintbrush that lets you set the opacity as well as the color. Also, I don't usually use a stylus, but I think I will in this case.
     
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  21. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    More will be coming, I guarantee it. :D

    I understand what you're saying about the marks of time passing on these photos, and I always keep not only the original prints but also the original digital scan or capture and a minimally adjusted digital image. But I like, when possible, to create a version that is closer to something that might have been taken just last week, say -- a version that attempts to lessen the distance between us and that moment in the past, to make it (somewhat) possible to see "them" as "us." I don't think it's ever possible to do that completely -- the past is always at some distance -- but I think it is possible to make the people and places seem more alive, more like real people we recognize rather than artifacts.

    But we'll see, eh?
     
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  22. terse

    terse MobiLifer MobiSupporter

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    Snapseed.jpg

    Check out the hat and the detailing on the coat!

    My sisters and I first thought this was a photo of our grandmother Laura, but on flipping it over, we discovered that the woman is Ina Shea, friend and classmate of Laura. You can see her in the first and second photos of this thread, second from the right.

    Shot with in high-res mode with Hydra on an iPad Pro and then reduced in Big Photo for posting here. The whitish background looks a bit pinkish because it's a sheet of copier paper on a pink-purple-ish surface.
     
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  23. rizole

    rizole MobiLurver

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    This thread has opened up a whole can of worms for me. I did a massive family photo digitisation several years ago and now I've cracked open the originals I'm realising I did an incomplete job and I'm unhappy with many of those that I did do.
    And....I've done some some tests now and the workflow on a mobile for the initial steps (taking the pic and moving it to an editing app) is more efficient and less RSI inducing except, the pictures I'm working from are not flat. Maybe a sheet of glass over the top of them when I take them would do the trick.
    The This is another one of my Dad. Mucky kid with chubby knees and pudgy hands. Leicester, early 30's.
    Some of the colour I added with the temperature brush but I realised you can do it with white balance too. I did the brick wall and masked off the rest of the pic this way.

    tmp_29257-20170416_230130-01-01419097300.jpeg
    I've no idea who this is of but they look like labourers to me It's from my Mum's picture's and my Grandad's last job was a grave digger so maybe he's in there somewhere.
    tmp_29257-20170416_232212-011667763303.jpeg
     
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  24. rizole

    rizole MobiLurver

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    17? When did your grandparents sleep?
     
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    rizole MobiLurver

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