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A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography
A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography
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Old 7th January 2019, 08:51 PM   #1
tapestryofsound is offline tapestryofsound  Scotland
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Default A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography

It is my pleasure to start this thread for our mutual enjoyment - read on, and participate at your own pace and leisure:-

Nearly all of us have a collection of old photographs gathering dust somewhere, and not all together entirely sure what to do with them.

One thing to be really sure about, is not to throw them away - please, do not do it, as all photographs have an inherent value. I will repeat this. All photographs made from analog silver halide emulsion technology are of incalculable value, and are to be treasured - hopefully forever, and if they are digitised, this will happen.

Each and every photograph ever made using film is a unique record of a moment in time made from light bouncing off a reflective surface, travelling through the air, passing through an optical lens which by way of its design, then projects a visual image that becomes embedded within a layer of gelatine impregnated with light sensitive salts of silver. When this self-described piece of 'film' is chemically developed, halides of silver migrate into molecular clumps that wrap themselves around the photographic image as a three dimensional matrix known as 'grain'.

For the sake of clarity within this initial treatise, we shall accept that all analog photographs are made up entirely of overlapping grains of molecular silver, giving each and every photograph its own unique and individual visual character - quite unlike digital capture, were everything looks more or less the same - usually deathly dull, and not entirely convincing. But more about that irksome paradox some other time ....

When you pick up and look at one of your (many thousands!) of photographs, there are two things that actually happen. The moment recorded as light entwined within the photograph travels forward in time to meet your eye, and your eye travels back in time to look into its descriptive likeness. The gap between the two events widens at a constant rate of time, which can be considered as a conceptual essence of time travel itself.

The 20th century's main form of visual documentation is analog photography, and as such, is incontrovertible proof of a remarkable age that truly existed, and now gone forever. All the light that ever shone in the collections of photographs that we have in our possession, is still travelling from the past into our present, and onto, and into our children's future. This is why I say all photographs, no matter what they are of, or what they depict, are of immense, incalculable value.

Only there is a major hitch. As we look into a photograph, something else happens. The viewer and photograph become older and older, and eventually both will finally perish to become dust. The solution to this dilemma is to permanently digitise the photograph, so as to enable its encaptured light to continue its journey through time - indefinitely.

I will write, and continue to write, until I have explained everything there is to know about the digital preservation and restoration of photographs, with an emphasis upon pictures of family and loved ones.

If you can (and do!) understand audio, then you will definitely be able to master the intricacies of how to successfully scan photographs, negatives and transparencies with consummate ease and confidence. Without knowing it, most of us are already halfway there.

I will, for the sake of clarity, make constant analogous references to audio. For what is light, but sound at a higher frequency?

Anyway, one thing, one day at a time.........

ToS
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:52 AM   #2
gpauk is online now gpauk  Scotland
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For what is light, but sound at a higher frequency?
I'm not sure which way round would make life more interesting... if light was actually like sound, or if sound was actually like light!
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:13 AM   #3
avtech23 is offline avtech23  Australia
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A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography
Looking forward to reading this thread, ToS!

Cheers!


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Old 8th January 2019, 10:32 AM   #4
wintermute is offline wintermute  Australia
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A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography
It is interesting timing as I was looking last week at some slides that I had scanned perhaps 15 years ago, and was never particularly happy with the results. However I discovered that (ironically) the Nikon software that I use with my DSLR does a very good job of bringing up the contrast in the scans. Scans that I just felt I couldn't get the true dynamic range of the slides, are definitely closer, though perhaps still not as good as if projected.

Attached is a scan from that film. Taken I think in 2003. It is of the Heads of the Nambucca River, in Nambucca Heads. I used to go fishing on that river with my grandfather every weekend. He passed away about a year after we moved away (in 1982). I think it's Fuji Provia 100F. This is a resized version of the original 4000dpi scan. Scanner a Canoscan FS4000, software Vuescan.

edit: and the second is the first photograph I ever took. Christmas Day 1975 with my just unwrapped Kodak Instamatic. I don't remember how I scanned that one because the negatives don't fit in my film scanner, must have been on the long defunct flatbed...

Tony.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Nambucca.jpg (573.1 KB, 134 views)
File Type: jpg Christmas_75.jpg (206.9 KB, 122 views)
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Last edited by wintermute; 8th January 2019 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 8th January 2019, 02:27 PM   #5
TheGimp is offline TheGimp  United States
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Interesting timing.

I have about 500 35mm slides I am wanting to digitize to give copies to my siblings.

I looked at commercial processing and may eventually go that route, however for the time being I have my projector, screen and slides setting in the den and was considering (1) video taping so I could give a narration, or (2) Use my EOS Rebel to capture each one.

Or, I could purchase a dedicated scanner for the slides.
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Old 8th January 2019, 02:34 PM   #6
jackinnj is online now jackinnj  United States
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A 101 Guide To Digital Restoration Of Analog Silver Halide Emulsion Photography
I've had 4 slide scanners. Problem was that I did medium and large format slides. I would recommend the V850 Pro.

Don't buy the Powerslide 5000 -- it jams so frequently as to be useless.

I've had a Nikon CoolScan, Minolta Dimage, and an Epson 1640. All boatanchors now.

For only 500 35mm slides, I would send them out to Fotobridge.
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Old 8th January 2019, 06:13 PM   #7
radiosmuck is offline radiosmuck  Canada
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Actually, I am using an old Coolscan III I purchased non working for $5, it just needed the dried out lubricant replaced and I dusted off the mirror at the same time.
OK, It only works with a Win98 machine and needs an SCSI cable but 6 Meg produces good enough resolution for a computer or TV screen.
My Nikon DSLR with 24 meg is dialed back to 6 meg and I got some images produced on a large vinyl printer and they look great, JPEG compression does the magic.
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Old 8th January 2019, 06:51 PM   #8
jplesset is offline jplesset  United States
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Years ago, I got a Minolta "scan speed", but never used it much. About 5 years ago, over the winter we used a Canon desktop scanner to go through about 40 years of negs and slides. It did a great job, and we are still printing these old images....
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Old 8th January 2019, 07:57 PM   #9
mmerig is offline mmerig  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tapestryofsound View Post

When this self-described piece of 'film' is chemically developed, halides of silver migrate into molecular clumps that wrap themselves around the photographic image as a three dimensional matrix known as 'grain'.


Only there is a major hitch. As we look into a photograph, something else happens. The viewer and photograph become older and older, and eventually both will finally perish to become dust. The solution to this dilemma is to permanently digitise the photograph, so as to enable its encaptured light to continue its journey through time - indefinitely.


ToS
Thanks for starting this, as many in the DYI audio group will appreciate it as well. I am so glad you recommend not throwing old photos away, and bring up the magic that traditional photographs may have.

I have photographic experience dating to the 1960's, and I still use film today. One small quibble is that the halide crystals, or "grain", does not migrate when it is developed. Also, what dominates a printed image as "grain" is what is between the grains on the film, not the grains themselves.

If stored properly, film and prints, especially black & white, will last centuries. Digital versions can conceivably last this long, if hardware and software are maintained through the ages, but this is not easy or cheap, and of course no one has done it yet. The Hollywood film industry has realized this (e.g., see "The Digital Dilemma" I and II, published by the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

Currently, I have a research project that involves archiving old and new images taken on film. Although the film and prints are being scanned to allow easy sharing, the film and silver gelatin prints are the long-term storage elements in the archive. Recently, I have printed film dating to the 1880's, and they still look good.

A CD or thumb drive in an attic will probably not have much value after 50 years, but there are plenty of shoe boxes full of photos that are still usable. I have worked with many negatives that are 50+ years old, some stored in shoe boxes in an attic, and they look as good as new and print well using traditional analogue printing methods.

My main point is that a digital copy is not a perfect substitute for a silver-based image. The digital files will need a lot of maintenance, and as of today, no scanner can capture all of the detail on film or print (silver halide crystals are typically about 1 micron across), and scanner resolution is about 10x too coarse to resolve them, although on a practical level, a good scan is usually good enough.
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:49 PM   #10
TheGimp is offline TheGimp  United States
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This is one place I might trust 'cloud' storage. It is probably more reliable than burning CDs, DVDs, etc.

I have lost some images from less than 20 years ago which are stored on PC and CDs.
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