Before and After Magic

on Monday, June 11, 2007

Regular readers will know that after almost six months of anticipation (and actually some several years of procastination), I finally got myself a scanner just recently. In keeping with the brotherhood of men, my behavior since been dominated by the "Ooo. Cool Gadget. Must Play" gene which is known to be asssociated with the Y-chromosome. I have scanned almost everything I can think of to give it a try. Photos, I mean.

Anyway, I am thrilled with the results of the scanner and the packaged Paintshop PhotoAlbum 5 software. When I felt that I still wasn't getting the best result, I tweaked the images further with Google's Picasa. I am so, so happy about the results.

I tried it out on a bunch of prints that I had, that had seen better days. They had been decolorised by heat and humidity and looked nothing like what I remembered the prints to look like. Yet by scanning and software magic, I have been able to recover much of their glory.

The software had problems with things like shafts of light against a dark background. Those just come out as a flare of light. However, the overall result has me in good spirits and high hopes that I can at least recover a semblence of my old, damaged images.

The set of before and after images in this post were done with a set of decolorised prints from a trip to Norway. Bear in mind that these prints are 22 years old. I will blog on something more substantial when my scanner breaks down. (Can you imagine that I am this cheerful despite the fact that Ducks owned by a Mickey Mouse Corporation now have their hands on the Stanley Cup?!!). Have a good week.

(Oh, almost forgot. All photos by LGS. From top left and going clockwise: 1. Pretty guide from the Folklore Museum in Bergen; 2. Ferry on the fiord; 3. Naerofiorden and 4. Highest point on Oslo-Bergen Railway.)


CS said...

Scanners are great, especially with the adition of being able to enhance them a bit with photo editing. Cool.

meggie said...

I have so many faded photos, I have never tried refreshing them like that. You have done a good job with them.

...Kat said...


I have a scanner but not for my slides of which there are many.

Josie said...

Oh, what a clever squirrel you are. The after pictures are gorgeous...!

That old Y-chromosome has been known to get people into a lot of trouble, hasn't it? :-)

I love Picassa. It's great.


evalinn said...

How great those pics turned out in the end! Looking forward to more photos.

Lorraine said...

ahhhh technology LOL Beautiful :)

Odat said...

wow...ya know I keep meaning to get a scanner....If one can do that with it ...well..gee..I think I will now!!!

Cheryl said...

Have you ever checked out my friend's blog?
She's been scanning all her old photos to chronicle her family's history. I so want a photo scanner.

Janice Thomson said...

Wow what a difference Lgs. The photos are beautiful. There are so many wonderful programs that do awesome things to a photo...I look forward to seeing more.

Open Grove Claudia said...

WOW! That's inspiring. I have mostly thrown away our old photos because of the wear and how weird they look.

I'm also thinking that you must be a master.

They are beautiful photos - thanks for sharing.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am so happy to be able to restore the old photos. There is some loss in sharpness and contrast but small matters when they have been resurrected from near bleached white.

Worth trying with your old photos. it's not 100% but it's good.

you've read my mind. I need a scanner for my slides next. Hmmm. Where can I beg, borrow or steal that from?

The best thing about picasa is that it is FREE! And yet, it does somethings better than the commercial programs. With regards to the Y chromosome......I deny everything.

Thanks. Notice how most of my photos have water in them? That's why I like your photos of Stock City so much!

Scientists design computers, technicians create computer languages but it must have been artists who created some of these photo softwares, don't cha think?

yes, join me. Let us set our scanners on Stun! (mixing my Star Trek terminology there).

I will visit that blog. Thanks for the lead. I actually waited for a company I knew to upgrade and they actually threw this scanner out. I just offered to take out the trash for them.

I am entering another period of addiction. Scanner addiction! Will it never end? lol.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

ooo. Just missed your post coming in. Honestly, I am no master. A lot of the new photo programs have an idiot's key. This works for maybe 50% of the time for the remainder, they will lead you throught he process one step at a time; i.e. first adjust brightness, then adjust contrast, then adjust vividness etc. The wonderful thing is that they allow you to preview your changes so that you can decide if what you have done actually helps the photo or makes it worse. If you tried, you might have made my photos even better than what I did.

Anonymous said...

This turned out very good before/after. Colour photographs turn red because of a chemical process in one of the layers, humidity and light can speed the process up, but it is almost there. I worked for an archiv for some time, we sat on a huge stockpile of photographic material spanning more than 100 years. So it was taken with different technics on different materials.
The best and most robust material are the glass plates with silver salt surface (Jod): They are gorgous with zillion of pixels - here silver particels. Black and white film and slides are mostly without problems, but colour photos and especiall these "ready-mades" - forgot the name: It was pushed out of the camera with a developer squeezed over the surface, wait a minute and the picture is ready - these can turn all black. In fact it is a mix of plastics and chemicals nobody can control and nobody knows what works on in time. Put them in plastic-albums and you'll get interesting results. but watch your fingers ...

Lorraine said...

Def, Lone, even if they don't know it ;)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I should have thought of it. You must be the master of photo restoration, no? Perhaps you have some tips for starters like me.

It's interesting that you say that the old glass and silver photos last well. WHo would have thought they were pixels ahead of the other techniques. And the instant photos that you are thinking of are called polaroids.


Anonymous said...

Oh no, I am no master of restoration. In fact when reactions in original material are underway you can not act - simply because nobody really knows what is in it.
We used to scan them in like you did. The problem is the data-format - which one will survive? The simplest of course and that is ".gif" what produces the largest data-quantity. Another we choose for practical reasons was "jpg", but the simplest one also. There are different ones.
And if you want to restore the image - we did nothing other than what you did. Take time and be careful. And safe your orginal data ...

The silver-plates were simply great. I wrote a small article on it in German, I called it "black mirrors" what I am very proud of - ah vanity! The old photographers used often their own special developer or fixation. But experienced restorers are able to fix nearly everything with glas-plates, you can even re-develop them and put in gold in stead of silver - gives incredible pictures.

My job was to identify the locations and situations and to date them.

Becky Wolfe said...

Well Done! I used to dabble in photo restoration but seems I don't have the time for it & now you can get it done anywhere or people can do it themselves. But color restoration is a whole other ballgame. Haven't done much of that! They look great!

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