Scanning Old Pictures, Slides and Negatives for Restoration

This past weekend I taught a hands-on workshop for my local camera club on photo restoration.  Restoration is a very deep topic and what one can accomplish in a half day long workshop is limited to core techniques and the delivery of a handbook with a number of technique recipes for people to try as they work through restoration projects.

The workshop was, to all reports, a huge success.  All the attendees stated that they got a lot of value and a couple whose initial interest was not very deep have since decided that restoration is actually a lot of fun, and while time intensive, is very personally rewarding.  I do restorations for clients and enjoy the work myself, and am always learning new techniques and approaches.

One of the most critical elements to a successful restoration project is getting the scan of the original correct.  Back in 2012 I happened upon an eBook from Konrad, founder of howtoscan.ca  It's not the first resource of its type that I have used, but it proved to be one of the clearest and most straightforward of the guides that I discovered.  Since that time Konrad has updated the eBook and now offers an extremely comprehensive Scanning course that you can purchase from his website.  If you scan ANYTHING with regularity, you should support this fine gentleman by buying his course.

How can I put this more simply?  If the scan is not up to snuff, you are creating unnecessary work for yourself.  And, you may not be able to get a good result no matter how hard you work.  Learn to scan properly and your results will speak for themselves.

Restoration is a lengthy process but even quicker work can produce incredible advances.

 This is the original scan provided to me

This is the original scan provided to me

 This is the restored image

This is the restored image

I know that there is still work I can do on the restoration to make it even better, but this is a work in progress example of where you can get to when starting from a scanned image.  The image provider, local club member Kent, did not have the benefit of Konrad's course, and could have had even more success in his scan, but did a very decent job considering the level of training he had received at the time.  I am very grateful for his support and interest.

We all have access to boxes and bags of old photos, negatives and slides that are the history of our families.  Those originals degrade over time unless properly stored and let's be honest, we know that lots of them are not stored in the best way possible.  Save your history by making great scans of the originals and refine your storage and organization as soon as possible.

My last note, is that learning to scan is not hard, but I warn you that contrary to the scanner manufacturer's brochure, there is no magic button or one step process to deliver the best possible scan.  If you invest a bit of time in yourself, you can make great scans, and end up doing a much better job than you would get from many so called professionals who simply went out and bought a scanner and followed the basic instructions.

Thanks for reading, until next time, peace