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Conservation photography VS Photo restoration

Despite the fact that in our time photography is something that is available to all and that it is a thing that is very easy to store and distribute, everyone knows how valuable old photos are.


These days, more and more people are thinking about how to save old photos of their family. Some of photo restoration samples can be found there. Every year, the condition of old photos just gets worse. Paper, even a special photo paper, is not one of the most durable thing. This material is very easily can be damaged or spoiled. You can see a lot of damage in the photograph below: cracks, creases and missing parts.


Often the cause is children who can play with photos and accidentally tear them up, or spill something on them. It is common that children want to make a picture prettier and funnier, so don't be surprised if you find a tattooed mustache or a cat's ears or whiskers on one of the photos. 

On the other hand, even if you keep a photo album very carefully, it's not a guarantee that their good condition will last long. Eventually, the paper will probably get worn out and lose the previous look.


Save Your Photos From The Time

How do you keep the precious images of your grandparents from this poor fate? There are different photo restoration techniques.

What are they? How do they work? What's the difference between them? What will you get from using one or the other? In this article, you will find answers to these questions.

So, the two main methods that are used in order to restore damaged photos are called photo restoration and photo conservation. 

Let's look at each one in detail.

The first method doesn't expect working with the original photo, but with a digital copy. After receiving it, retouchers restore a photo with the help of a variety of editing programs. 


As you can see, the photo after processing looks fine. There's no damage there now.  Most known program for processing that's, of course, Photoshop. But there are many others:

- different versions of Retouch Pilot

- Jixipix Hand Tint Pro

- AKVIS Retoucher

- Recolored

- Teorex Inpaint

- Photo Retoucher

Which programs  photo restoration services  work with you can learn from them, if you're interested.

This method is very practical and safe for the original photograph, because the work is done solely with a digital copy. After all shabby parts, cracks, dents and other things were removed from your photo, you can print it again. 

What Is More...

Also, besides removing all the unwanted consequences of its long storage and removing all "evidence"  of the damage, processing professionals may provide a number of other services to you: color correction, improving colors, changing black and white photographs to colored ones and more.


Photography aboves a great example of processing and colorization a photograph. All colors look pretty natural and bright.  You can learn more about this in the photo restoration prices

Maybe one of you will think: why do you even have to colorize an old picture? That is the whole point and the beauty: black and white photos, past times, vintages and  stuff like that. Well, aside from the fact that old photos are usually pretty creepy, but if you add a little bit of color, they seem to be not so scary. After all, you'll find the answer to that question in Amazing historical photos colorized and brought back to life

Here's another example of how the old picture is processed, but it's not the best one. The colour of the lips and the eyes is not natural. And in the area around the tie and the  jacket blurred areas are visible so much. This indicates that even though a retoucher had removed all of the damage, he still made the changes to the photo so noticeable and tough. 


Pros and Pros 

If you think about how exactly you should  preserve photos of yours, remember that if you decide to restore your photos digitally, you'll get a ready photo in electronic form that gives you many different options:

- you will be able to print multiple copies

- you can send them by e-mail in a good quality 

-it is possible to put them in various presentations or documents and so on.

You can ask yourself, whether you can do this using non-digital restoration too, that is called conservation photography? The original photo can be scanned or photographed. 


And you'll be absolutely right, but it's worth saying that the quality of the scanned or photographed photograph will still be different from the digital copy. And it's not just about its size or quality, it's about a look of a photograph. It is obvious that it is not possible to restore a photograph using different chemicals and other photo restoration techniques at the same high level as special programs. 


Why? At least because to restore lost parts of a background or gown or a person's face in a photograph, a retoucher can use the same photo by selecting the areas, copying them, and moving them to the desired location. You cannot do the same operation by using any of the tools. Except that drawing missing parts.

Then... What is the second method used for?

It is worth saying that it mostly applies to paintings and portraits rather than pictures. 


But if you want to improve the original state of the photograph and stop its further destruction, you should contact the experts of photograph conservation. But at the same time, it's very risky, because the work will be done with the original photo, that means, all the changes are irreversible and permanent. Such changes can be both useful and devastating. With the use of chemicals, photographs are become brighten. A scratched background are filled with special inks. Simply put, technology is very hard and complicated and it takes really long time. 


However, a photograph conservation is very important for historical photographs that are stored in museums and exhibitions. The originals will be valued first and foremost, doesn't matter how good their copies are.

You can learn more about this in Introduction to Photo Conservation

Why should we preserve photos?

It would be foolish to deny the importance of old photos. Our past is incredibly important for our future. Storing ancestral memory that's really necessary thing to do. So the old pictures from the family archive shouldn't just be left somewhere in the attic. Apparently, in a world of modern technology, we can restore damaged photos in almost any condition. This is well demonstrated in the next photograph. She literally had a huge hole in her head, but the specialists managed to return the photo to its original look and even better.


But it is not worthwhile to prolong this case, because the better the state of the original, the easier and cheaper it will be to restore it. 

Moreover, despite returning a photograph its previous look, conservation photography also includes flattening of the photo, selecting a frame and glass for it. By the way, selecting a frame for a photograph is impressive: from the material and color to the pattern on the frame and its shape.  


The differences between Photo Restoration and Photo Conservation

Well, we've learned a variety of ways to restore your photos. We have discussed the pros and cons. The only thing left undiscussed is what is the difference between photograph conservation and photo restoration if they have the same purpose? Well, that's not quite true. 

If the goal of first method is to get the photos back to the previous look by using special restoring tools and so on, the second is used not only for a restoration, but also for an improvement of the quality of the photo and its look.


I also want to say that you can easily combine these two ways to preserve photos1 of yours. First, you give it to the retouchers and let them scan it and process the resulting digital copy. 


The photograph above is also an example of how processing removes the effect that a photograph texture creates as well. 

Texture of Old Photograph 

The hardest thing to do is to restore old pictures that were printed on an embossed paper. The relief, that is not visible to the eye, becomes clearly visible in the image as a grid after the scan and spoils the look. Blur filters remove not only the texture of the paper, but also the small details of the image at the same time. That is, by removing the stamping using a simple filter, we make the quality of the photograph worse: sharpness and detail are lost. So the usual filters of the Photoshop won't fit in this case, so you need another way.  

A regular pattern of relief paper, such as cells, can be attempted to be removed with special plug-ins, which is not always that good and often requires extra work. It is almost impossible to remove non-regular texture by using filters. In such a case, stamping paper can only be removed by using the correct scan. The point is that the scanner's lamp illuminates the photograph on one side, and when it is rotated by 180 degrees, on the other.


 After scanning, you receive two images with different texture maps. You turn the second image and carefully combine it with the first one and then stamping becomes less visible and the smaller parts in the image become clearer. Sometimes, for a good result, the image needs to be scanned, not two, but four times from different angles.

Another kind of texture in a photograph is a texture in the image itself, such as tissue. The purpose of the process is to save it instead of deleting it. If there are defects or stains on the top of the photograph, it is very difficult to remove them without damaging the original texture. But sometimes it works with a combination of processing techniques.


So, what did we say about mixing? Oh, yes. Having a digital copy made and given it up for a restoration, you can give it to the professional people working in conservation photography, that will provide a long life to the original photograph, while its improved copy will always be available to you and to your family members. 

Undesirable Objects in a Photo

Another important feature of digital restoration that distinguishes it from conservation is the ability to clean up odd objects. For example, take a look at the photograph below.


It's obvious that a man in the background is just a bystander, who decides to wave to a camera. It seems like nothing serious, but it's probably not so nice to look at this stranger every time you see a picture. 

We have learned how to return your old photos their previous look, but how do we preserve photos properly? They're probably in your garage, or somewhere in the attic. It's totally wrong! How to do this correctly you will learn in How To Preserve Your Family Photographs

Hopefully, after watching this video, your photos will be in the right place and conditions. Remember, not all people can boast that they have pictures of their ancestors, so don't underestimate your own. 

Why is it so important to restore damaged photos?

Besides of photographs of your relatives, there are also photographs of old houses, schools and all kinds of buildings. It is very important for restorer to have a qualitative image of a building. The better quality of a photo, the more accurate the building will be to the original. Besides, how can we learn our history without pictures? Each book includes illustrations in addition to the information. 


 They can be different: portraits of important historical persons, (no matter if they are politicians or artists), photos of old technology and so on. Those photos help us classify them and divide them into styles, which  then helps us to understand the style that is typical of the some time period. What do you say? The pictures are our lives. 


In conclusion, I would like to say that, whichever of photo restoration techniques you choose, all of them have a similar goal that is to help you to keep valuable photos of your family. Remember your roots and tell, and what is most important, show your grandmothers and grandfathers to your children.

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