Retouching old negatives

This week has seen me doing something new with images … scanning old glass negatives & retouching them slightly. Although I have many old family photos to scan & edit I haven’t gotten round to it as yet.

However recently I was very fortunate to be able to offer my services & scan some old glass negatives for a friend producing her family book.

The negatives were very old & to my untrained eye looked in remarkable condition. This turned out to be true as after scanning them I found very few major blemishes on the main subject. Most of the degradation was around the edges … but that seem to create an interesting effect as a border. Must add here that the scanning process in itself takes some time as each negative took at least 30 mins & some longer!! I scanned each at 2400dpi.

Having done very little of this work, & only then on the odd image, this presented a new challenge for me … so once they were all scanned I began my work.

Not knowing really where to begin my tool or tools of choice were the clone & the spot heal tool in PS & as, like I said, the images were remarkably ‘clean’ that technique has worked out well for me so far. The new PS has some great new air brushes so I will experiment with those a little down the track & see what effect they produce.

I love manipulating my images to produce the look I’m happy with but this is something different … still subjective I need to be careful!

When cleaning up old family photos I guess a couple of thoughts go through my mind … how to get a clear image & how to retain the character & look of the era.

In the final result I want to be able look at the photo & see the person or the subject clearly but also feel the ‘character’ of that old image. It goes without saying that the subject is the main focal point & should be kept in context as much as possible & cleaning this area is important. However I also feel that retaining the ‘atmosphere’ those images portray is very important. To me cleaning every single solitary speck off the image is going too far … preserving the feel & texture of the paper without ‘flattening’ it helps show depth & gives the picture character. You can smooth out too much & totally loose the whole feel to the photo … brush lightly!

As I said these negatives were pretty clean but I have seen some double exposed or very damaged they could be very challenging … much to learn!

Can’t post any images up as yet as they are not mine … when I work on mine I will put some up!