How to clean negatives and slides for your digital archive and photo restoration

collection of color negatives

How to prepare photographic material for photo restoration

Properly preparing your photographic material for photo restoration is crucial for the best results and cheapest quotes. Think about it. The professional does not have to charge you for the time he is spending on manually cleaning your photographs from tiny dust particles which could have been cleaned off in the first place. He can directly work on severe damages like torn pieces, cracks, scratches or color-shifting.

Cleaning is key

The key to doing so is cleaning photographic material from impurities like chemical residues, dust, and other particles. Whereas some of these actions can be performed easily at home with just some extra and cheap appliances others need some more experience and equipment. Nevertheless, all of them can be performed at home and hugely improve the quality of your photographic material. This subsequently means that your scans will improve too.

Working precisely and properly

We at InstaRestoration can not emphasize enough how important it is to work properly and precisely. Do things once and for all. Take your time for each step. Trust us, rushing through the process just means that at some point you have to redo the whole process of unpacking, cleaning, scanning and archiving again. Sooner or later it will get back at you. The best way to avoid that is working according to the schedule and techniques we provide you here. This will ensure that you do this one time and you’re done for good.  Keep in mind that creating digital copies of your images is a time-consuming process that involves multiple steps. If you work sloppy at any of these steps you have to redo all of them.

Cleaning photographic material from dust and other particles

Dust will affect all photographic material you possess and it’s the number one reason why scans have to be redone or lack quality. As long as you don’t archive your photographic material in one of INTEL’s dust-free chip factories you will always have to fight it.

Photographic prints are not as much affected by this as negatives and slides. This is especially true for 35mm film. Because the photographic material is only 24mm (0.98″) x 35  mm (1.38″) even tiny dust particles cover a relatively large area of your negative or slide. This means that crucial detail of your images can be covered. In combination with other damages such as scratches, color-shifting or chemical residues this can cause terrible outcome when scanning them. Luckily cleaning them from dust and other particles can easily and safely be performed at home. The same goes for photographic prints.
Although dust and other particles rarely cause these issues in the much larger prints it is advisable to clean them before scanning. As said above it’s always best to do it once and for all.

Why cleaning is better than using Digital ICE and other dust and scratch removal software

We have written a separate article on why its always better physically clean negatives and slides than just using technologies like Digital ICE. Read more about “What is Digital ICE? And when to use if for dust and scratch removal”.

But to make things short. All these technologies use computer prediction to repair these areas and can’t be compared to photo restoration. This means these areas will not represent the original content but a computer-generated substitute for that. This works great for small non-vital and homogenous areas of the image but becomes tricky when it’s covering facial details or other important fine-textured areas.

What you need for cleaning

For and foremost you should get gloves to be able to freely touch your photographic material. This way you won’t create fingerprints on your photographs. This is crucial not only for being able to create good scans but also for making them last longer. Each time you’re touching your photo with your bare fingers you are transferring organic material. Over the long term, this can cause damages such as mold, bugs or color shifting, which then have to be repaired with the techniques of photo restoration.

You could either be using these one-time plastic gloves or buy some high-quality gloves which can be used archival purposes. Make sure the material is organic and does not loose fibers. Otherwise, you might get rid of the dust but all your negatives and slides will be covered with fibers.

Secondly, the most gentle way to get rid of dust and other particles is always the best way. Photographic emulsion is highly sensitive. This means before using a brush you should try using compressed air.

You can either buy compressed clean and dust-free air in cans or use a blower. These cans are solely produced for this purpose. Theoretically, the big advantage of these cans is that you’re blowing the dust off with dust-free air. There is just one big issue with that. Dust is everywhere.  The actually compressed air might be clean and free of particles but the moment you use it you will raise dust in your room, which then ends up on your negative again.  Key, therefore, is to minimize the dust in your room.

Why you shouldn’t blow with your mouth

Although blowing seems to be the most practical way to get rid of dust it is definitely not the best. Thanks to your lunges your breath is pretty much free from dust but it’s also very humid. Your relatively hot breath will condense on the surface of the negative. This can become a real issue when you try to put it into the archiving sleeve. It will stick to it or even worse over time cause mold.

How to get rid of dust and why your bathroom is the best place for that

Naturally, different rooms have different levels of dust pollution. Temperature and humidity are the two key factors. The higher the temperature and the lower the humidity the more likely dust will be raised. Rooms with relatively high temperature and low humidity are typically the living room, bedroom, workshop, garage or home office. Things are worst in the attic, one of the reasons why you should never store photographs up there.
Other factors are rugs, couches and other furniture made out of fabric that become real dusty monsters over time.

Although, this sounds kind of weird the best place to get rid of the dust on your negatives and slides is the bathroom. Furthermore, things become a lot better if you run hot water through the shower for a couple of minutes and then wait for 10 minutes for the steam to settle down. The evaporating steam will fix all dust particles in the air and then sink to the floor. This is as far as you get to a dust-free room.

In here it actually makes sense to work with clean canned air. But also a bulb blower that is compressing the dust-free air will do. Most of the dust particles will be gone after that procedure. Be persistent. Sometimes, it might take a while before the particles are actually being removed from the material. When working with negatives or slides always clean both sides.

Look at the material from different angles. Depending on the light incidence you might not be able to see the particles.

The right storage

As we said early dust is everywhere. Nevertheless, it is possible to minimize the chance of dust recovering your material.

Use sleeves when archiving them. In general, there are two different kinds of sleeves. Plastic and glassine.  Both have pros and cons. Whereas the plastic ones cover your material tightly and firmly and thereby prevent dust from entering they are also more prone to mold as the air can’t circulate freely. When putting them in the sleeve make sure that they are 100% dry. The glassine paper sits quite loose on your material. This allows it to breathe and thereby prevents mold. Nevertheless, dust can enter more easily.

What if there are still particles left?

No worries, this simply means that humidity has “glued” them to the surface of your print or negative. Generally removing them will not cause any damage in the photographic emulsion as it sits underneath the surface. Just make sure to not use any force.

What’s the best way of getting rid of these particles?

As we said earlier the most gentle way is the best way to treat your photographs. Most of the time using compressed air is totally sufficient. Sometimes though humidity can cause these particles to stick to the material more than air is able to remove them. In this case, we simply have to use a mechanic but gentle way of removing them.

Using microfibre cloth

There are different microfibre clothes out there. Make sure to not use the standard household clothes you find in every kitchen. Those are made for cleaning hard surfaces like glass, stone or metal.
Microfibre is made out of synthetic fibers, which enables electrostatic charging. For the same reason, they are real dust collectors they are not necessarily the best tool to clean your negatives or slides. This is why dust literally gets sucked into the cloth. Of course, this works also for negatives and slides. Unfortunately, they are very sensitive which means that the hard synthetic fibers of the standard microfibre cloth can cause micro-scratches on the surface of the film. So make sure when using a microfibre cloth that it is cleared for sensitive surfaces like lenses or sensors. Like this one here.

Another side aspect is that the cloth is also electrostatically charing the negative, which over time will attract dust again.

Using a brush

An even softer and more gentle way of cleaning your negatives and slides is by using a brush. It allows you way better to control the pressure you’re applying. Same here, make sure you use a soft brush which is cleared for the use for delicate surfaces. For example this one here.

The professional way

Photo restoration professionals will always use an anti-static cleaning solution that is applied with special non-abrasive cleaning pads. Because of its anti-static quality, this solution will not only clean your negatives from dust but will also prevent dust from recovering your material. Do this right before scanning or archiving them and you will create breath-taking results. Make sure to use each pad only once as the smallest debris can create scratches on the surface of your film material.

As much as this is the best solution to get rid of dust and other particles this is also the most expansive one. Figured out which photographs have really deserved that kind of treatment. For all others work with a microfibre cloth or a brush.

Summary – Cleaning photographic material from dust and other particles

  1. The smaller the dimensions of your photographic material the more dust becomes an issue. Even small particles can cover a relatively large area of the surface which then can hide details when scanning them.
    This is especially true for 35mm negatives and slides.
  2. Physically cleaning your material is alway better than applying Digital ICE and other dust and scratch removal features of your scanner
  3. When cleaning your material from dust make sure the dust pollution in the room you’re working in is kept to a minimal. Due to its humidity, the best place is the bathroom.
  4. Put on gloves before touching your negatives or slides
  5. Before cleaning the material with a cloth or a brush use compressed air from a bulb blower or a can with clean compressed air.
  6. If applying compressed air is not enough for completely getting rid of all particles use a special microfibre cloth, a brush or use the professional anti-static cleaning solution and pads
  7. Put your cleaned material in sleeves to prevent dust from recovering it.

 

Water stains and chemical residues on negatives and slides

Apart from the dust issue, there might be problems with water stains and chemical residues on your photographic material. This mainly happens to negatives. These issues get caused due to improper treatment during the development process of the negative. Unfortunately, these damages often cover larger areas of negatives and slides, which makes it very hard for automated restoration software like DIGITAL ICE to restore them. Luckily physically cleaning them is possible although not easy. The actual cleaning process can easily be done at home. The tricky part is to dry them dustfree in a dusty home environment without any professional equipment.

What are water stains and chemical residues?

Before getting started we need to understand where this kind of pollution is coming from. During the development process, your negatives pass through different chemical solutions.

  1. Development
    This is where your image becomes visible for the first time.
  2. Disruption
    This process immediately stops the developing process and makes sure the lab has total control over the visual outcome of your image.

Fixation
Up until this point, the developed image is highly fragile. It vanishes as soon as light hits the photographic material. The fixation process enables you to look at your negatives and slides in broad daylight.

In between all of these processes, it is crucial to rinse the negative to not carry one solution into another and thereby change its reactivity.

The actual residues on your material however always come from the fixation process or the rinsing itself.

These residues are both mineral-based which means you can get rid of them simply by using water. Nevertheless, you should always use distilled water as regular water, due to its minerals, easily will produce water stains while drying again. To speed up the drying process and further prevent water stains use Photoflo for your final rinse. By breaking the surface tension Photoflo reduces the drying time and the likelihood of water stains.

But the real problem starts after cleaning your negatives. Depending on room temperature and humidity wet negatives take between 4-10 hours to dry. During this time they are extremely vulnerable to dust.  Due to the wet surface, the dust particles do not only cover the negative but actually connect to it. This means you won’t be able to simply blow or brush it off once the negative has completely dried. In professional labs negatives, a dried in air filtered and heated cabinets. At home, we usually don’t have these. 

Semi-professional and amateur photographers often use their bathrooms to dry their negatives after development.  As said above these rooms are the least dusty in our homes. Furthermore, you can crucially decrease the amount of dust in the air by turning on the hot water tap in your bathroom. Let it run for a couple of minutes and the evaporating steam will bind the loose dust particles in the air and then pull them to the ground.

Before actually cleaning your negatives like that please check whether your bathroom really suits your needs and try it with some unimportant test negative.

Here’s the way to go:

  1. Check whether your bathroom is suitable for cleaning negatives. Make sure it is as dust-free as possible.
  2. Run hot water through your show for a couple of minutes
  3. Find three clean bowls or basins where you can clean your negative in.
  4. Rinse it with flowing tap for quite a while (usually about 10 minutes)
  5. Transfer the cleaned negative to a bowl with distilled water.
    Leave it in there for a couple of minutes
  6. Transfer the negative again to a bowl with distilled water and Photoflo
  7. Take it out and use a darkroom clip to hang it. Make sure you’re not covering the actual image.
  8.  Close the door and make sure no one is entering while the negatives are being dried.
  9. Check the results and the level of dust on your negatives. If not satisfied repeat
  10. Properly store your cleaned negatives

 

Summary

Keeping your negatives and slides free from dust and other pollution is one of the most important parts in properly archiving and digitizing your photo collections. Keeping your images free from dust does not only prevent scratches but also enables you to create the best possible scans of them. As we’ve learned physical dust removal is always better and way more accurate than digital. This is crucial when it comes to creating a digital archive of your images. Even damaged negatives or photographic prints should always be cleaned before scanning. This way you can save a lot of money when hiring a professional photo restoration service like InstaRestoration.com and the result will be even better.

If you like to get started just take a look at the list we have provided below. We have listed all tools and materials for creating a clean and highly professional archive.

 

Expansive Blower: https://amzn.to/2KnT2lz

Cheap Blower: https://amzn.to/2YHhOSV

Cheapest Blower: https://amzn.to/2GM03M7

Anti Static Solution:  https://amzn.to/31jrTau

Cleaning Pads: https://amzn.to/2yBxlsG

Brush: https://amzn.to/31gUyg5

Scanner cover: https://amzn.to/2Yphi0J

cleaning air: https://amzn.to/2YphnS5

cloth: https://amzn.to/2YqrRR6

What is Digital ICE? And when to use it for dust and scratch removal.

Example of photo restoration (major damages)

What is Digital ICE?

Digital ICE enables scanners to automatically detect and repair scratches and remove dust particles when scanning negatives or slides.

Although scanners and scanning software keep on evolving and become better with every update we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to clean your negatives and slides before actually scanning them. To understand why it is so crucial to properly clean your negatives and whether Digital ICE can replace photo restoration it is important to understand what so-called “Anti Dust and Scratch” features can and can not do.

Digital ICE – What it can and what it can’t do

Understanding Digital ICE Technology

Digital ICE is a fairly old technology dating back to the late 80s. It automatically “cleans” and “repairs” negatives and slides from scratches and dust. The actual process is split up into two parts.  This automated photo restoration can not be compared to professional photo restation services.

The first part is taking place in the hardware of the scanner. The l scanning unit contains a pair of light sources. An RGB light source and an infrared light source.  Hence, the scanning process is split up into two cycles. The first cycle creates the actual scan of the negative or slide by using the RGB light source. In the second cycle, the negative or slide is scanned again this time with the infrared light source.  As damaged or covered areas reflect that light differently the scanner is able to detect these areas and automatically mask them.

The second part, the actual “repair” of these areas is performed by an algorithm which analyzes the surrounding pixels of the damaged areas. By doing so it is able to predict what pixels are missing and adds them to the affected area.

As clever and useful, this technology is, it is certainly not magic. There is a crucial difference between recreating and predicting what is missing. Whether it makes sense to use Digital ICE or not is highly dependent on what areas and what amount of the photo is damaged.

When does it make sense to use Digital ICE?

Digital ICE works wonderfully with homogenous areas and on the complete opposite with areas that don’t follow a specific pattern. Everything in-between often causes glitches or artifacts. This becomes especially obvious when applying Digital ICE on damaged faces.

Why is that?

The reasons for that is that the algorithm only works with mathematically predicting what pixel is missing and does not grasp the concept of the object it is trying to fix. The algorithm doesn’t know that it is currently “repairing” a face and that a face needs two eyes, a mouth, and a nose to actually be a face. And that’s only the beginning of it. A smiling face differs a lot from a crying or a scared face and on top of that, each face is unique. To be able to restore such damaged areas it is crucial to understand the object. This is something only we humans can do.

damaged photograph before applying inpainting

damaged photograph after applying inpaintingTake a look at how the face is being demolished by the algorithm.

 

Vice Versa the algorithm does a great job where there is no real concept to grasp. Like sky or grass. The sky usually is very homogenous. The pixels next to each other only differ very little. Therefore predicting the missing pixels works great. Grass on the other side grows very chaotic and follows no real pattern. Although the prediction certainly is not what the original was like our eyes are incapable of seeing that. Of course, this only works to a certain degree.

damaged photograph before applying inpainting

damaged photograph before applying inpaintingAlthough far from perfect the algorithm is doing a way better job than on the woman’s face.

What about Artificial Intelligence?

The algorithms operating in your scanner software are everything but intelligent. Compared to what a human brain is capable of these algorithms are pretty much dull. Nevertheless, recent developments in A.I. are showing promising results for the future. Take a look at Nividas Inpainting A.I.
These neural networks have been trained with tens of thousands of images. This enables them to get a better understanding of the context and the objects they’re repairing thus creating more accurate and better results.

As amazing and unbelievable this seems to be the technology is still very far away from being applied to new scanners and software. Up until today, these kinds of damages can only be reconstructed with photo restoration.

 

Should I use Digital ICE or not?

Whether you should use Digital ICE or not depends on the photo you are scanning. Small disrupted areas in non-vital parts of the image can easily be repaired with Digital ICE technology.

Images which have suffered severe scratches or damages have to be properly repaired with the means and techniques of photo restoration. We as a photo restoration service have gained years of experience in restoring and reconstructing those damaged areas. If you like to get a free estimate on restoring your damaged photo or negative just check out our website www.instarestoration.com

What about dust?

Unlike scratches or other damages dust often is only covering specific areas on the surface of the negative or slide. This means that it is possible to carefully remove these particles without damaging the photo or negative. It is crucial to understand that it’s always better to physically clean negatives or slides than applying Digital ICE to your scan. Remember Digital ICE is only predicting what is being covered by the particles. It is not able to recreate the original state of the image.

Especially when scanning 35mm film small dust particles can already hide important details of your photograph.

As the proper cleaning of your negatives or slides is crucial for their well-being you should read our tutorial about how to clean negatives and slides.

 

Why photo restoration is the perfect gift

Why photo restoration is the perfect gift

In times where photographs are being uploaded to the internet by the billions, one might ask why we should restore a couple of old photos of our parents, grandparents or other family members. Digital technology has revolutionized photography. Today taking a photo and sharing it with your family and friends all around the globe has become a matter of seconds. A couple of decades ago this was completely different. Photographs were only taken on special occasions like weddings, Christmas eve or birthday parties. If you go down memory lane for about 100 years, getting your photo taken was often a once in a lifetime occasion.
We simply can’t compare those photographs to all the selfies, cat photos and other pictures on the internet today. Looking at your ancestors’ photographs does not only tell a lot about what they looked like but also about the time they lived in. Because of their scarcity and importance during that time these photographs are revealing way more than just your grandparents’ biography. They are vivid proof of political, cultural, and religious circumstances of that time. Therefore these photos are not only your very private memory but also part of our collective memory. Restoring and cherishing them is a way of commemorating who we as a family and society are. They help us understand where we are coming from and where we are heading. This unique quality of old photographs turns them into wonderful gifts for our loved ones. Restoring your grandparents’ old wedding photo is an act of respect and appreciation for their life, sacrifices, and achievements. It’s a way of saying thank you.
Because of this unique quality of photographs, we like to share some occasions which are perfect for giving away a restored photograph.

Wedding Anniversary

Example Photo Restoration Minor Damages

Getting married is one of the most beautiful and unique moments in life. We carry around the memories of this special day for our entire lives. Don’t you still remember how beautiful your wife looked like in her white wedding dress? Or how your husband almost fainted when he first saw you walking down the isles?
But just like our memories fade over the years our photographs slowly lose their vividness. On the one hand, this is a powerful analogy to the way our memory works, on the other hand, wouldn’t it be wonderful if those photographs would just look like as on the day they were taken?

Thanks to digital photo restoration we no longer have to watch our memories fade. We at InstaRestoration.com can repair and restore your precious wedding photos. No matter if those photographs bleached out over time or if they have suffered severe damages such as scratches, cracks or even missing pieces. Over the years we have restored hundreds of wedding photos, all telling their very unique story about broom, bride, and the time they were taken.

Restoring wedding photos is the perfect wedding anniversary gift. No matter if these photographs are your wedding photos, those of your parents, grandparents or even friends.

Christmas

Christmas is one of the few occasions where we as a family all come together and celebrate. Ever since photographs from the holiday seasons are amongst the ones we cherish the most. They do not only capture us as a family but also us changing as a family. Just take a look at how your mom’s facial expression has changed over the years or how old your little niece became. Remember the last Christmas where Grandpa was still alive or think about this terrible sweater Grandma gave you a couple of years ago. Think about how we as a family get together and go through all these old family photo albums. You listen to the stories your Grandpa is telling from his time in World War II or how your mom talks about how she first met your dad. Christmas is the time where we as a family have the chance to understand who we are and why we are here. To see what sacrifices our parents and grandparents have made to provide us with what we have today.

Take aside all those fancy gifts and think about what Christmas is about. It is about getting together as a family, commemorating about the stories and things that connect us forever. It’s about keeping the memories alive of our loved ones and understanding who we are. This is why restoring an old family photo is the perfect Christmas gift. There might be this one photo that shows every member of the family but it’s all faded out or even damaged. We can help you and digitally restore it so it shines in its original beauty.

 

before and after image of four sisters next to a Christmas tree

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is often only celebrated by the young folks but shouldn’t the power of love be celebrated in every age? Well, sure things change over time. You and your wife might be married for 50 years and things might not be so new and exciting anymore but you have a life and a vivid history that connects you two forever. This is what makes your love so unique and special. The photographs you’ve taken over all those years are the direct link to your history. Take a look at your photo albums and see what you and your spouse have lived through and experienced together in those decades. These photos are not only proof of your love but also help you to keep your memories vivid and alive.
restored photograph of a couple
There might be this one really special photograph you love to look at or the one that has been hanging in your living room for ages. Just like our memories photographs tend to fade away. With digitally restoring these faded or damaged photographs InstaRestoration.com can help you save your memories forever. Valentine’s day is the perfect occasion for that. Just imagine the face of your loved one when he or she sees a bouquet of roses a handwritten letter and this very special photograph, that looks like it had been taken two days ago.

Thanksgiving

restored photo of mother and child

Thanksgiving is the family holiday. All your loved ones meet up to have a wonderful dinner, spend the weekend together and talk about the past and future plans. Over the years you grow as a family. This is the perfect time to look at old family photos and talk about your ancestors. It’s the time when you can understand who you are and what connects each of you. Sure the holiday season sometimes can be stressful with all the traveling and the expectations but we should remember what it is all about. It’s about appreciating that there are people out there that will never let us down and that we as a family always belong together no matter what. This is why Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to restore an important but damaged family photograph. A photo restoration service like us can help you with that. All you have to do is upload the image and we’ll do the rest so you can fully concentrate on what’s really important. Spending as much time as possible with your loved ones.

Birthday

restored image of a woman holding a dog

The older we become the less we care about money and goods. Life has made us humble and we now know that what’s truly important is health, family and real friendship. Our memories are the ones who constantly keep us reminding about that. Your Grandpa sure will remember how he as a young boy spent his days in the woods not caring about his ripped jeans or bloody knees. Your Mom will always remember the day when you started walking or saying “Mom!” for the first time. And you will never forget what it was like to spend the summer break with your best friends on a road trip from New York to Austin. Although these memories fade over the years they make us the person who we are today. Luckily we have photographs that help us keeping these memories vivid and alive. But what happens when those photographs slowly bleach out or get damaged? No worries, digital photo restoration helps you to keep these precious moments forever. We at InstaRestoration help you save them. We can repair and restore images that have already suffered bleaching or even more severe damages. So the next time you’re thinking about a birthday gift for you Grandpa, Mom or best friend. Think about what moments in life you’ve shared with them and whether there is a photograph of that particular instance. Take that photo and turn it into a gift. Write down some sentences about what connects you and why you are so happy to have them in your life. Trust us, just because this comes from the bottom of your heart it is so much better than all the things you can buy out there. Just take a look at their faces when they see the photo and read your lines.
Among our customers, there are a lot of genealogists. Many of them have reconstructed their family history reaching back for more than five centuries. For them, there is nothing more valuable than proof of the history of their ancestors. So the next two occasions are the perfect date to give them a restored photograph as a gift. Trust us they will be blown away.

Veterans Day

restored photo of a young woman

We all have a veteran in our family and there’s a reason why we celebrate Veterans Day on the 11th of November. Originally the day was introduced to honor the soldiers who had been fighting in World War I. If you have ever listened to veterans talking about their time at war you’ve probably heard unbelievable and shocking stories. Having entered a battlefield is a life-changing experience. Not only because death is just around the corner but also because you learn a lot about comradeship, friendship and life in general. Veterans will often tell you that they have never experienced such a close and unconditional friendship again and they will likely tell you that this was the time they felt most alive. During their time at war, almost all of these men had a photo or two of their wife or family with them. Because of the circumstances, these photos were heavily damaged. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to restore these images for your father or grandfather to honor the service and sacrifice they’ve given to you and your country? We help you to digitally repair these images. We fix scratches, cracks and can even reconstruct missing pieces. Just check out our services at InstaRestoration.com.

 

restored image of two woman
4th of July does not only mark the day when the Founding Fathers declared independence from the British Crown but also the day when the United States was founded. Almost all of our ancestors at some point were new to this country. It offered them a unique chance to live freely and happily without religious or political persecution. The pursuit of happiness as it’s guaranteed in the constitution is what makes the United States special up until this date.
For genealogists, the immigration of their ancestors to the United States plays a key role in their research. Often the lives of these families have changed completely with their arrival in the U.S. Depending on the time of migration there might be photographs of your ancestors leaving their home country or arriving in the New World. These photographs tell a lot about what kind of people your ancestors were and how they managed to get started in the U.S.
If you have a friend or family member that is into researching their family history this is the perfect occasion for a very special gift. Due to their age, almost all of these photographs have suffered damages. Scan them and get them restored at a professional photo restoration service. They will simply love you for that!

Memorial Day

photo of Color guard of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Civil War marks a turning point in U.S. history. It’s the time when the United States became one country. Enemies who fought against each other became citizens of the same country right after the war was over. For genealogists, this war is especially interesting as it tells a lot about history and how things can change in a split second. A lot of the U.S. citizens today had their ancestors fighting during the civil war. What is especially interesting about the Civil War in a photographic way is that for the first time people started taking photographs of war. This is what makes these photographs so important and unique. If you have a family member that is obsessed with genealogy this is the perfect gift. Due to their age, these photographs are often damaged or faded. We at InstaRestoration can restore these images and even better we can turn them into color photographs by digitally colorizing them.

Colorization

photo after colorization

photo before colorization

Images don’t always have to be damaged or faded to turn them into presents. Have you ever thought about colorizing one of these old black and white images? This is especially powerful as our memories are colorful and not monochrome. So the next time you have no idea what to give as a present just think about that one photo your grandpa always wanted to have in color.

Be creative!

Today’s technology has not only revolutionized photo restoration but also printing. Don’t limit yourself to photographic paper. Be creative and try out new techniques. Today’s machines can print on almost everything! We are not talking about mugs or mousepads here. Think about how cool it would be two print a photo of your great-grandparents on your smartphone case or a photo of your first dog on a pair of socks. But don’t go too crazy. Think about who you are giving this gift to and what they like and need. Your grandma probably doesn’t need some new pairs of socks or a beach towel. Or maybe she does just keep in mind that gifts become a lot more valuable if they actually can be used in everyday life.

How to remove glue from your old photos

Old Photograph in Frame

How to remove glue from your old photos

All of us have probably done it and yeah it might have seemed like a good idea at the time but now we know using these sticky backed albums is everything but a great way of preserving old family photos. The chemicals used in these adhesives are often very aggressive and can damage your images over time. Furthermore, the paper your photos are mounted on is often produced with acids and bleaches and it’s a feast for mold and insects. On the practical side, it’s very hard to properly sort and archive them as long as they are all randomly glued into an album. So the best way to preserve these images is to take them out and get rid of the glue sticking to the back of your photos.

Caution

What sounds easy has to be done with the utmost care. You can easily damage your images while removing them. Keep in mind that an undamaged photo stuck to your album is always better than a damaged one in your archive. Luckily, we as a photo restoration service can repair your damaged photos. Nevertheless, before actually starting the process of unmounting your photographs make sure to create digital copies. While scanning sometimes can be hard because of curly paper you can always use a digital camera to capture your original images.

Getting rid of the glue on the back of your photographs can be tricky but we have a couple of tips to make that easier. Nevertheless, the most important one is to never use force!

Scraping

This is one of the safest methods to perform. Start with this one and from here decide whether you have to try another more “aggressive” one.
Us a scalpel or razor blade to gently scrape off that glue on the back of your photo. By working in a very flat angle you make sure not to cut into the photograph.

Freezing

Depending on what kind of adhesives were used it might make sense to put your photograph into a plastic bag and store it in the freezer for a couple of minutes. This hardens the glue and makes it easier to scrape it off. This works especially well for very hard adhesives which are mostly based on solvents.

Working with humidity

An old trick often used by the stamp collection community. Use an airtight container and put a wet sponge on the bottom of it. Now cover the top of the sponge with a layer of wax paper. Finally, put your photograph, glue side up, onto the wax paper and close the container. Over a 24 hour period, the glue will be humidified and it should be a lot easier to scrape or rub it off. This works especially well for water-based adhesives.

Heating things up

As glue becomes soft and loses its strength with rising temperatures you can try to slowly heat up the glue by using a hairdryer. Nevertheless, be careful. Heat can damage your photographs. Only work with the lowest temperature.

Solvents

There are some solvents out there which are being produced for the sole purpose of removing stickers and glues form surfaces. Some of them also say that they can be used for photographs. We at InstaRestoration think that you have to use these kinds of chemicals very carefully. Always test them first on a small non-important part of your photo. Also, wait for a day before proceeding. Some reactions take time before they actually become visible.

Summary

Removing stickers and glue from photographs has to be performed with the utmost care. Always create digital backups before you start removing them.
If anything goes wrong InstaRestoration.com can digitally restore your photographs.

The techniques of photo restoration

What is photo restoration?

In our previous blog post, we have briefly described what photo restoration is and where it originated. Today we show you the different techniques we use when restoring damaged photographs.

Compared to traditional photo restoration we solely work with digital restoration tools.  Digital photo restoration opens up completely new ways of repairing damages. Damages which, couldn’t be repaired ten years ago.

“With Photoshop everyone can do his own photo restoration!”

This is something we hear quite often and technically it’s true. Prices for image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paintshop or  Adobe Lightroom have dropped dramatically over the last years. Nevertheless owning an ax and a hammer doesn’t automatically turn you into a carpenter.

This is also the case for photo restoration. Good photo restoration is all about knowing which tool to use where and when. This needs a lot of expertise and experience.

A recent survey has shown that only 10% percent are satisfied with their own restoration work. Whereas 95% of the people needed at least twice as long as they expected.

Technically you are able to repair your damaged photographs. But always ask yourself if it’s worth spending dozens of hours on restoring an image without actually knowing if the results will meet your expectations.

If you like to try it anyways we recommend you using Photoshop CC and further studying this tutorial.

Be aware this is not a step by step tutorial or a sample of our restoration work. We simply aim to visualize the different tools and techniques used in photo restoration. If you like to become a professional it is important to first understand the very basics of the tools you’re working with.

The Tools

Adobe Photoshop offers plenty of different tools. Not all of them are necessarily useful when it comes to photo restoration. Here are the five most important ones.

Spot Healing Brush

Let’s get started with one of the most important tools for photo restoration. The spot healing brush comes in handy for all kinds of small damages such as dust particles, scratches or smaller cracks.

Content-Aware Fill
Spot Healing Brush with Content-Aware Fill
Before Healing Brush
After Healing Brush

The tool works by analyzing the surrounding areas and filling the selected spot with the calculated average of that. Therefore, it works best in large homogenous areas as seen here.

Here you can clearly see that Healing Brush only works for a very specific kind of damage. As soon as the areas become more detailed and inhomogeneous the result is devastating.

Clone Stamp

Clone stamp is a really important tool for repairing larger damages. It allows copying intact parts of the image into damaged areas. This tool is often used to reconstruct missing parts within an image.

Quick Selection Tool

The quick selection tool allows us to select pixels in a specific color range. It’s often used to select objects or backgrounds. The tool works by calculating the difference from the current to the next pixel. If the next pixel’s color/value lies within the set tolerance it will also be selected.

After Quick Selection

 

Curves

Almost all images have certain areas where contrast or color has faded. Curves enable us to darken or brighten certain ranges of pixels within the image. By doing so we can recreate the original color and brightness of the image.

Image of Curves
Curves

As you can see here curves even allow us to work in each of the color channels separately. This is very important when neutralizing toning or color shifting. Therefore understanding color theory is mandatory.

Before Curves
After Curves

Layers

A key concept in photo editing is working with layers. Layers enable us to independently work on specific areas in a photo without altering the rest of the image.

As you can see the red square is the bottom layer, therefore, the green and blue cover it. The green square gets partially covered by the above lying blue square.

We have now moved the red layer above the green layer. Now the red square partially covers the green layer. The blue layer nevertheless still is the top layer and is, therefore, covering red and green.

 

The great advantage of this is that we can individually edit each of those layers without affecting the others.

Of course, we can also move the red layer all the way up to the top.
Only now we can fully see the changes we have made to the red layer.

 

Layer Masks

Layers would be nothing without layer masks. These masks allow us to partially blend out certain areas of a layer.  Layer masks only work in the grayscale mode. White means the layer is fully visible, black in return means it is not visible at all. By using different shades of grey it is possible to gradually blend out the layer.

Let’s use the example from above to get a better understanding of that.

We have added a layer mask to the red layer. As the square to its right indicates. As the square is white it the layer is fully visible.

 

As you can clearly see we have now added a grey square to our layer mask, blending out parts of the red square. You can immediately see how this is affecting the overall image. The green square on the bottom layer slowly becomes visible.

This becomes even more evident when we further darken the grey square in the layer mask.

As we have turned the grey square within the layer mask to 100% black. It now fully blends out this area of the layer.

Using them all together

These are just five basic tools used for restoring photos. The key is to know what to use when. Restoring water damaged photographs is fundamentally different than merging torn pieces or reviving faded colors. Even the same type of damage always needs a different approach to get the best results.

Photo restoration really is the champions league of photo editing. Keep that in mind when you start doing your own restoration work.

How to digitize old photos with your smartphone

Digitizing old family photos

We have already talked about the best way to digitize your old family photos with a scanner. But not everyone has a scanner at home. Nevertheless, over the last years, smartphones became widely popular and their built-in cameras are becoming better day by day.

So in this tutorial, we will share the general framework that works best for digitizing photographs simply by using your smartphone.

Is my smartphone’s camera good enough?

That’s a good question! Depending on how old your smartphone is the quality of your camera differs. In general, smartphones, which are no older than two years should be fine. However, you have to make sure to provide the best available environment to be able to create high-quality shots of your vintage prints. Even the best camera will take terrible photos when you’re using it in the wrong environment. To know what’s the perfect set up keep on reading.

Using your smartphone as a scanner

Taking photos of your photographs is actually pretty easy if you apply some simple guidelines. Make sure to read the following steps properly to get the best results. For this tutorial, we are using Google’s PhotoScan app.

  1. Go to a bright room with plenty of natural light
  2. If it’s already dark outside you can also use an artificial light source. Nevertheless, you have to make sure that you are only using a bright and even light source.
  3. Mixing different light sources results in color shifting.
  4. Spotlights create inhomogeneous exposure of the photograph
  5. If it’s too dark your photograph will become grainy or even blurry
  6. Either use available light or artificial light. Mixing both will result in color shifting.
  7. Try to avoid  the built-in flash of your smartphone
  8. In doubt always wait until the next day and use the natural sunlight
  9. Put your photos on a flat and monochrome surface (best is grey or white)
  10. Flatten them as much as possible
  11. Make sure the photograph is not exposed to direct sunlight as this can cause reflections and shadows
  12. Download Google’s free PhotoScan app, available for both Android and iOS
  13. Scan your photos as shown in the built-in tutorial
  14. Get as close as possible to the image  – try to line up the borders of your image to the PhotoScan frame
  15. Try to hold your smartphone as steady as possible
  16. Let the app do the work
  17. Enjoy your digitized photograph

Why you should be using a scanner app

Well, actually it is possible to simply photograph the image you like to digitize with your built-in the camera app. However, these apps are not built for that purpose. Apps like Google’s PhotoScan or Apple’s Notes are solely built to create high-quality reproductions of documents and photographs.

How come?

First of all, it’s very hard to perfectly align your smartphone to the photograph you like to take a photo of. This almost always causes distortions and nonparallel lines. Second, due to their shiny surface old photographs tend to reflect light. This causes reflexions which then can hide important details of your photograph. All these errors have to be manually repaired and restored after taking the actual photo. This process is very time consuming and impractical.

By using computational photography professional scanner apps take multiple photographs, which are combined to a single glitch-free photograph.

The limits of PhotoScan and Co

If the environment is right apps like PhotoScan and iOS Notes do a good job! Their built-in computational software works great in decreasing reflexions and aligning the photograph. This especially comes in handy when your image has been damaged and your regular scanner is unable to scan it without reflexions.

But there are also limitations to apps like this. On the technical side, your resolution is determined by the pixels of your camera. The older models, therefore, will create worse images than the brand new iPhones and Samsung smartphones. As the process cannot be standardized the images will never look the same. Furthermore, it is very hard to create a 1:1 reproduction as the real size of the photographed print is not saved to the file. This is different when scanning old photographs. But most importantly the overall resolution and detail of such “scans” cannot be compared to a real scan produced with a scanner.

Using such apps is nice to quickly create a digital image of your photograph but should not be used for serious digitization.

Although Google’s PhotoScan works with computational processes damage like cracks, water damage or torn pieces cannot be restored by the app. These photographs have to be manually restored by professional photo restoration service like us.

However, for quality reasons, we prefer scans created with a scanner.  Working with high-resolution images is mandatory for good restoration work.

Luckily nowadays scanners are easy to use and cheap.

Read more about scanning your images with a scanner here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to prevent photos from sticking to glass

Example Photo Restoration Major Damages

A sticky situation, or how to prevent your photographs from sticking to glass

Ever had the sticky situation when a photo seemed glued to the glass of a frame? No? Well, lucky you! All the same, you should keep on reading as this is something that occurs quite regularly. Over time moisture can creep in between a photograph and the frame’s glass. This moisture can then release inks and chemicals from your photo or the material of the frame and come in direct contact with the glass. If these substances subsequently dry up again the photograph and the glass become fused together. To deal with this sticky situation it’s actually best not to try and remove the picture from the glass as peeling it off often results in heavy damages.

We have repaired these sorts of damages more than we can count, but with some foresight, you can easily avoid this happening in the first place.

How to frame your photograph –

Keep these tips in mind before you frame your photographs:

1. Distance

You know how we get a little bit uncomfortable when people stand a little too close to us? Well actually the same goes for photographs, we all need a bit of space. There are many reasonable framing solutions. Even your local shop will offer plenty of options. After finding a frame that fits your photograph choose a type of frame which prevents the actual photograph from coming in contact with the glass. This will prevent that nasty business we spoke of from happening. Once you’ve got the frame, avoid applying any glue to your photographs as this can likewise become a source of chemical release and consequent damages down the line. Likewise if you have to mount your photograph always use chemical and acid-free materials.

2. Archival Material

If for whatever reason you can’t present your photographs with some distance between the glass and photograph you should consider using an archival-quality clear plastic sheet before putting your photograph into the frame. This not only prevents any sticking but also protects your photograph. You can find such materials online from reputable outlets.

No matter what kind of solution you end up going for it is imperative to keep backups of the originals. It doesn’t matter whether that’s an old or a recently printed photograph. You’ll never know what’s going to happen to your photographs. Sometimes it’s simply the sun’s UV rays that destroy a photograph and at other times it could be your son’s football. Creating digital backups and storing them securely will allow you peace of mind and the ability to always restore the original state of your photographs.

If your photograph is already damaged you should definitely consider our professional photo restoration service. We restore your cracked, faded, or torn photographs to their original beauty. The earlier you act the better!

6 things hurting your old photographs

The value of old photographs and how to store them

There is nothing more valuable than an old photograph of a deceased family member. To keep that memento in perfect condition it is important to store it properly. For now, it may seem like the photograph lasts forever but all photographic prints are fading over time until they eventually vanish forever. But don’t worry even if the diseases of fading colors, watermarks, and ripped edges have already spread there is a cure. We as a professional photo restoration service can restore the original beauty of your old images. But before we actually have to use our magical powers keep these simple tips in mind and you will slow down the process of erosion dramatically.

The Bad Guys

 

  • Ultraviolet Light: Ever had a photograph hanging in direct sunlight for weeks? Well, then you know what we are talking about. UV is pretty much the worst thing that could happen to the colors of your photographs, or should we rather say anything colorful? Sunlight is highly aggressive that’s why you put on sunscreen. The best way to preserve your photographs is to hide them somewhere the sun rays can’t reach them. If you want to display your pictures in direct sunlight make sure to use special filter glass that blocks the UV rays. What’s even better is to create a copy of that photograph and store the original in your archive. Therefore it’s best to always have your images as digital copies stored on your hard disk.
  • High temperatures and relative humidity: The emulsion is the heart of the photograph. Here is where the magic happens. This emulsion is made out of organic materials like gelatin. One major problem in archiving is the fact that these materials are very vulnerable. Room temperature and high humidity easily cause mold and fungus, which then slowly spread all over your photograph. To avoid that keep your images stored at a cool and dry place. Preferably under 70°Fahrenheit (20°C) and 50% relative humidity.
  • Paper and Wood Products:
    Appearances are deceptive: Yes products made from a tree seem to be pretty natural but when you take a closer look at the way they are being produced you immediately realize that there are lots of chemicals involved, such harmful ones as acids or bleaches. These can slowly destroy your photograph over time. So be careful when shopping for archival products. Make sure you get acid and bleach-free papers and storage material. Unfortunately, there is no standard for archival material so always ask first before buying.
  • Metallic and Sharp Objects: Well what is more endurable than metal? Yeah, you’re right on a practical level that’s true but keep in mind that these materials are extremely sharp and hard. This can easily cause scratches and other damages to your photographs or negatives. Don’t use metal clips and for god’s sake just because your grandpas’ tools are as vintage as his photograph doesn’t mean they have to go into the same box.
  • Air Pollutants: It might sound ridiculous but even your basic house cleaning products and fresh paint can damage your precious photograph. What makes you dizzy in the head smelling it causes chemical reactions in the photograph. So as much as you shouldn’t sniff on daddy’s nitro solution as much you shouldn’t put it right next to your archive box of photographs.

 

  • Adhesives & Rubber: Last but not least the handy stuff… Yep, we all used it or at least have seen these sticky stripes for photo albums. As easy-to-use they may be the chemicals included in those stripes will eventually destroy our photograph. You won’t see it right away but time will tell my friend, time will tell.

Summary

Let’s face it, photographs are not made to stay forever and as much as this sounds like an uphill battle it is worth fighting it. With some simple and smart decisions on storing and displaying your photographs, you can win a tremendous amount of time-saving precious moments for future generations. If you have already recognized some fungus, fading in color or any other damages it’s now the time to create a digital copy of your images. Remember things will only get worse over time.

History of photo colorization

Example Photo Colorization

The Beginnings of Photo Colorization

The history of applying color to photographs is almost as old as photography itself. People back then were used to looking at colorful paintings and always felt as if something was missing from black and white photographs. Therefore photographers from the very beginning tried as best as they could to introduce color into their photographs. The first attempts dyed or tinted entire photographs in a blue or red hue such as cyanotypes or sepia tones. The colorization of black and white photographs has a long and interesting history from these rudimentary beginnings. Today all these effects are most commonly done digitally with programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom.

Coloring photographs by hand

Up until the mid-1940s the majority of all photographs were black and white due to limitations in modern techniques and technologies. This meant that to create a color photograph was an involved and lengthy process. A photo had to first be taken, developed, and printed before someone sat down to hand paint this final print. As this was naturally a very time-consuming process only a very few people were able to afford such a process and artifact.

The first artist to create such handpainted photographs was the Swiss painter Johann Baptist Isenring. He applied acacia gum and pigments to his photographs around 1839.

Hand coloring photographs and Japanese craftsmanship

Although the process of hand coloring photographs was invented in Europe it eventually became hugely successful in Japan.

The Japanese were at this time very familiar with colorful wooden prints of landscapes and scenes of daily life. This artistic tradition made them very eager to apply their skills to add colour to their photographs. Over the decades Japanese and European artists inspired each other and the techniques gradually evolved and become more sophisticated through cultural exchange.

One of the oldest hand-colored photographs from Japan:

historical black and white photogrpah of Takaboko Island
View of Takaboko Island, near Nagasaki, Japan, possibly by Ueno Hikoma or Stillfried & Andersen, between 1862 and 1885

restored photograph of Takaboko Island
View of the coastline near Nagasaki showing Takaboko Island (also known as Pappenberg Island) in the distance, Japan, possibly by Ueno Hikoma or Stillfried & Andersen, between 1862 and 1885 (Hand-coloured albumen print)

Different techniques for different purposes

In photo restoration, we have different tools for dealing with different sorts of damages. The same was true for coloring photographs. Specific techniques were applied for specific desired results. These techniques were in turn largely dependent on the materials just as in painting. The principal materials and techniques used singly and in combination by different artists were:

– watercolors

– dyes

– oils

– crayons and pastels

Storage and preservation

It is crucial to store photographs properly. This is especially true for hand colored photos and vintage prints. As the colors are only applied to the surface of a photograph they never actually become a complete part of the photographic print. Being a delicate surface as such there is always the risk of the image being scratched or blurred with any handling. Other factors such as humidity and high temperatures also play an important role in the preservation of a photograph. Not long ago, once a photo was damaged it was lost forever. Today digital photo restoration services and retouching professionals are able to restore these pictures from all sorts of damages including cracks, blurrings, and watermarks.

Color Photography

This first color photograph, as opposed to a painted black and white photo, was created by James Clerk Maxwell in 1861. He ingeniously figured out that one can produce every color through differing combinations of red, green, and blue. With this in mind, he asked a friend and photographer of his to take three photos of the same single object and perspective. For each shot, the photographer was to attach a different color filter to the lens. That’s right, one red, one green, and one blue. After printing each of those photographs onto a glass plate the two friends positioned the glass plates behind three separate projectors. Each projector was respectively equipped with the filter that was used to take the original glass print. The three photos were finally superimposed upon one another in projection and depicted for the first time a representation of the subject’s original colors. Even today in the digital age the technology and techniques through which colors are reproduced are founded upon the same theory.

 

Old Photoraph of Maxwell
Tartan Ribbon, photograph taken by James Clerk Maxwell in 1861. Considered the first durable colour photographic image, and the very first made by the three-colour method Maxwell first suggested in 1855.

Old Photograph Colorized
A picture of Mohammed Alim Khan (1880-1944), Emir of Bukhara, taken in 1911. This is an early color photograph taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii as part of his work to document the Russian Empire. Three black-and-white photographs were taken through red, green, and blue filters. The three resulting images were projected through similar filters. Combined on the projection screen, they created a full-color image.

Color Photography

Although it’s easy for us in the digital age to take it for granted that digital photographs are first of all by default color images but there is in fact a long story of technological progress connecting the first black and white photograph to the digital images of today.  Even though as we said the theory behind creating color photographs hasn’t fundamentally changed ever since Maxwell’s invention, it took almost 70 more years after the first color photograph before ordinary people were also able to produce their own color images. In 1935 Kodak was the first company to realise such a product in the form of the now legendary Kodachrome. Kodachrome truly marks the beginning of modern color photography. The film combined three different layers of emulsion in one film. Just like Maxwell’s first color photograph, there were three layers of green, red, and blue. This technology made color photography simple as well as affordable for everyday customers. Even today Kodachrome is celebrated for its vivid colors and breathtaking look.

Steve McCurry spoke about Kodachrome in 2011:

“If you have good light and you’re at fairly high shutter speed, it’s going to be a brilliant color photograph. It had a great color palette. It wasn’t too garish. Some films are like you’re on a drug or something. Velvia made everything so saturated and wildly over-the-top, too electric. Kodachrome had more poetry in it, a softness, an elegance. With digital photography, you gain many benefits [but] you have to put in post-production. [With Kodachrome,] you take it out of the box and the pictures are already brilliant.”

Kodachrome vintage photograph of London
Kodachrome photo by Chalmers Butterfield of Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus, in the West End of London, c. 1949.

Soon after Kodak introduced their first color film other companies such as Agfa and Fuji followed. From then on color photography became widely available and affordable enough for almost everyone to use. The advent of the color film also marked the end for hand-painted photographs.

Photo Coloring and Photo Restoration Today

Photo coloring together with photo restoration is once again becoming more and more popular. We all know how often it’s only with the distance of several years that we begin to truly value our past memories. Unfortunately, a large number of old photographs become damaged in those intervening years and need repair. This is as much true for hand-colored photographs as for black and white vintage prints. Back in the day, hand coloring a photograph was artistic craftsmanship which was mainly performed by skilled painters and artists.

The tools available to us today have changed significantly and have as a result revolutionized the process itself. What remains the same however is the need for real knowledge, expertise, and experience that comes through professionals. For consistent and high-quality results, one does not only need years of experience in understanding how to treat cracks, faded areas, or other damages but also needs a deep understanding and appreciation of historical trends in photography. This is especially true for realistically coloring photographs. As most of the objects or people aren’t going to exist anymore one can only recreate the original color by looking at the history books and other comparable historical photographs.

If you are interested in getting your old photographs professionally repaired or colorized you should always ask a professional photo restoration like us to do so. This ensures the most beautiful and accurate results.

What is photo restoration?

Example Photo Restoration Major Damages

What is photo restoration?

The profession of photo restoration dates back to the very beginnings of photography in the 19th century. Back then scratches, cracks or other damages were repaired by physically altering the photograph. Using color pigments, glue, and other chemicals.

Today’s process is completely different. Everything is happening in the digital world. We don’t need to touch your physical photograph at all. Through scanning you can create an exact digital copy of your old photograph. We then perform all our restoration processes digitally on that copy.

You have probably heard of software like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or CameraRaw. Although these are the most popular applications for working in the field of photography there are some more specialized applications used in the field of professional photo restoration.

This software provides almost limitless possibilities and techniques to restore damaged photographs. Most of these techniques were not available 10 years ago. Today we can repair almost every damage ranging from watermarks, faded colors, cracks, or even torn and missing parts of your photograph. We are even able in most cases to recreate missing facial parts of a person. All these services can be performed on black and white as well as color photographs. We bring back the original brilliance and luminosity of your memories making your antique photographs look like they came right out of the photo lab.

So before giving up on your damaged vintage photographs forever, you should check out our services. We can perform miracles and are happy to help. Simply choose one of our services, send us your image and within 24 hours we will let you know whether we can repair your photograph or not. Everything in this consultation stage of the process is completely free of charge.

 

Photo restoration: the ultimate discipline in photo editing

Photo restoration is the most delicate and difficult discipline in photo editing. It requires experience, expertise, and powerful computers. But the most important ingredient is time. We repair each photo pixel by pixel to make sure that we deliver the best and most breathtaking results. Real photo restoration is and will remain manual labor. This is also why real quality photo restoration at first sight might appear relatively expensive but you must realize you are paying for the application of expensive equipment and a professional’s experience, skill and time. And let’s be honest, most of our memories can’t be measured in gold.

Although machine learning is on the rise real photo restoration is and will remain manual labor.

You might have heard of software features which perform these restoration processes automatically. But no matter whether you are using a Kodak, Epson, Canon, HP, or Brother scanner, these features simply work by blurring and copying pixels and creating the illusion of erasing dust and scratches. This process is actually in fact destroying detail and luminosity. The bad quality of this process becomes especially evident when you want to print or display your photograph. (Check out our tutorial on properly scanning damaged photographs)

The quality of such computer-generated restoration cannot be compared in any way to professional image restoration. We maintain every detail and the original brilliance of your photograph to make sure you can print and display your photograph in every manner.