What is digital restoration and repair?

Young girl in the 40's unrestoredYoung girl in the 40's restored and recolouredDigital restoration and repair could go from a tweak of the colour balance on a photo, to removing scratches. For some, we may repair tears, creases, missing areas or rejuvenate the sharpness.

In short, digital restoration and repair is similar to painting conservation and repair, although very much simplified.

Painting restoration and repair, requires making changes to the painting itself. It requires in-depth knowledge of paint types, different painting techniques and also of canvas and frame repairs too. Their skills differ greatly to ours, in that painting restorers work on the physical picture.

Digital restoration and repair means we only work upon the scan provided.

Our aim is to return an image that looks brighter, clearer, sharper and damage free.

The blurred hands in this photo are due to her moving as the shot was being taken. It’s almost as though she was telling the person taking the photo, “Don’t you dare!” As it is part of the essence of the photo, we decided it was better to leave them as they were.

The photo required little restoration, other than some blemishes and sharpening.

The colours however, were a “best guess”. This is because we had no idea of the colour of the clothing she wore, but investigation showed that these colours were very popular at the time.

Keeping Photographs

Film archive storage DRs Kulturarvsprojekt from Copenhagen, Danmark
Film archive storage
Image courtesy of DRs Kulturarvsprojekt from Copenhagen, Denmark

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have many old family photos that could well have been passed down through generations. While they evoke memories, they have doubtless lost a lot of their clarity and sharpness.

Many people don’t keep their photos in the most appropriate places. Temperature and climate-controlled environments are best for photos. They should be in albums with acid-free paper pages. Although many keep their favourites in albums, often they have even more photos that they keep in boxes or bags. These are usually kept in the attic or garage for “safe keeping”, or more likely, to just keep them out of the way. The extreme changes in temperatures they are subjected to, speed up the breakdown of the chemical emulsions on the paper. This causes the image to degrade.

The first sign this is happening is fading. Black and white photos start to look a little fuzzy and indistinct and colour photos loose their vibrancy.

Exposure to the air, sunlight, smoke, dust or moisture also cause the emulsions to break down.

The biggest factor of all? Time. Even when kept under the best of conditions, photos will eventually lose their image.

Is there anything you can do?

You may well have considered replacing these damaged old photos with reprints from the negatives. Most likely, any negatives disappeared long ago, if you ever had them to begin with.

Without the photo’s original negative, it is impossible to develop another print.

Even if you do have the negatives, they are even more susceptible to atmospherics and more prone to breaking down over time than the photos are. If kept under perfect conditions, the negatives will last about fifty years. This is generally not how they are kept. As a result, when they’re needed, they’re found to be warped, faded and of no use.

So, this is where our Digital photo restoration and repair service comes in. We ask that you scan the original photo. Upload it here and we’ll send you back an estimate for the work to bring it back to life.

We work on restoring your photograph by erasing most if not all of the degradation that has occurred over the years, producing image files that can look better than the original, will never degrade no matter how many times they’re replicated. These, you can share with family, friends or on-line.