Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SISTERS - Antique Photo Restoration

"Sis & Grace"
Original damaged photo.
I'm guessing this was taken in
1915 or 1916.
My mother gave me a sepia photo of her and her older sister and asked me if I could restore it for her. 

Her sister's name was Selma, but everyone called her Sis. My Aunt Sis was born in 1910 (died in 1998.) My mother was born in 1914, the second of four girls, and is now the only sister who is still living. Her youngest sister died about 2 years ago. 
The original photo had been hand-tinted to give the faces very faint cheek, lip and eye color.  

I took a course in digital photo retouching ten years ago. It was free training from a photography studio looking to hire 5 new people. I passed their course and final test and was told I'd be called within a week about beginning working there. I hadn't heard anything, so after 10 days I called and discovered the place had gone bankrupt and would be closing once everyone picked up the photos they had already ordered.   

This image was very dark and very badly damaged so it presented unique challenges. 

After scanning the original photo, I had to recreate parts that were missing. Of course, I don't know what was originally there, so I had to guess. You will not be able to see all of the flaws, even if you click on the images for enlarged versions, but there were black spots all over the faces and arms and lots of white spots on dark areas, thousands of small flaws, as well as the more obvious ones. When I enlarged the photo to repair the tiny flaws, I knew it would take forever to fix them. So I repaired the worst of them and left many of smallest ones ---but then, that may be the charm of this antique photograph. 

ADDENDUM: My mother died at age 95 a little more than 6 months after I posted this, on the day before Thanksgiving 2009. 

She had fallen at home. Her in-home help called and we took her to the hospital. After a few days there, she seemed to be doing well, then died in her sleep. She hated the thought of being placed in nursing care, which her doctor recommended after her fall, so I think she just gave up. 

I didn't know until I spoke to one of my cousins that my mother's grandfather and her youngest sister also died the day before Thanksgiving. If I were superstitious, I might worry each year, right before the holiday.


Ria said...

great restoration! old photographs are so great....retouched or not!

Kahshe Cottager said...

Your Mother must have been so thrilled to see what you were able to do with her cherished photo. I can imagine the long hours that went into saving this photo and the end result is beautiful!

Thumbelina said...

You have done an AMAZING job on that. I bet your mum is over the moon. It is fantastic. Great entry.

Come see my sepia too! (Scroll down if you're not going through Mr. Linky)

Ralph said...

This a beautiful restoration! I have been scanning old B&W photos, and given how these old photos deteriorate, modern software comes to the rescue!

Anonymous said...

how wonderful it is to be able to recreate old photographs. i think i would look into getting some "formal" training in photo restoration as well. thanks for the tip, really a spectacular result. great job.

Anonymous said...

You sure did a fantastic job! The restored photo looks great!

kden said...

You did such a fantastic job at restoring your old family photo. When I saw the first shot I thought "That picture doesn't need restoring." Then I saw the original. I did an old family shot this week too.

image retouching said...

Great photo restoration work!!!

Vita Stunder said...

You have done an amazing job!
Beautiful resoration!

My Sepia scene is up too!

kaye said...

nice job with the restoration and I enjoyed the history behind the picture.

maryt/theteach said...

Oh my goodness, an excellent photo restoration job! Great sepia scene! :)