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Photo Restoration

Almost a year ago, I took on my first job of photo restoration. I haven't done a whole lot of it, but I love working on them. It mixes two of my hobbies, editing photos and restoring things. There's just something about taking something old and making it new again that I can't seem to get enough of. It's no secret that I love taking something unwanted and make it into something desirable, but it's even more rewarding to take someone's prized possessions and restore them back to their original condition. It's even possible to make them better than they were to begin with.

Recently, I added a section to my portfolio on my photography website for photo restoration. You should check it out if you get a chance. As a matter of fact, you should check out the entire portfolio if you haven't seen it in a while. I've updated all the different categories and some of my more recent stuff has been some of my best work ever.

I needed to add to my list of examples, so I thought that I'd hop online real quick and find an old photo that needed a few touch-ups. I went to a site that I had recently checked out that I knew was full of historic photos and found this one. You can see that the original black and white photo is heavily faded. Many of the original details have been lost already, and many more will slowly disappear as the passage of time continues. The problem is not necessarily the lack of care for these items, but usually due to the lack of quality of the paper and the chemicals used to create the photograph in the first place. Since it was first discovered that silver nitrate darkened when exposed to light roughly two-hundred years ago, the process of capturing two-dimensional images of reality has improved at a slow rate, or at least up until the advent of the digital camera. But even since the digital age, the quality of making hard copies of these images has been slow to improve. Photos from 100 years ago are fading whether they are exposed to light or not. Some photos from 50 years ago have contrasted out and have lost their precious details. Color photos from 25 years ago are turning brown or orange. No one really knows what modern photo paper will look like after decades of being stored or displayed. We'll find out in time, though.

This is after I fixed the de-contrasting, removed the spots and hand-writing, and gave it back some detail that was hiding from view but was still there waiting to be discovered. This baseball team was actually a semi-professional one from Monett, Missouri. They traveled around for all their games by rail. They were all paid players. Hundreds of people would come to watch them from all over Southwest Missouri. The price of admission was a quarter. Even though they came from a small town like Monett, they played big. They were one of the best teams in the state. This photograph was taken their first year in 1908. While working on this photo, I thought of how neat it would be to find one of these guys and show him the repaired photo. But, then I suddenly realized that no one pictured here would still be around today. That was kind of a sad realization. I then wondered if there were descendants from these men that could be found. Would they all be aware that their grandfathers played semi-pro baseball on a team that gained notoriety throughout the state?

I spent about an hour adding color to this photograph and I just love the way that it turned out. It really came alive for me. Old black and white photos are interesting but they lack the color that makes a photograph so vividly alive. It's difficult to imagine what life would have been like back then. So, adding color to this photo is exactly what I think that it needed. These guys may be long gone from us now, but studying this photo really brings them to life all over again in my mind. I think that I'll try to hunt down some living relatives of these boys and give them what I've got. If, I find anyone, I'll write a blog about it, trust me.

4 comments:

Some very important info to know about photos fading from paper is with ultrasounds. How sad not to know that the print on this specific paper fades VERY quickly. It's the same print as a Chuck E Cheese kid photo or also like a receipt that you find that is suddenly blank and you don't know why. So please, please make copies of your ultrasounds before the precious moment literally fades away.

hi this is lisa Woolsey. Just wante to know which one was the Charles Woolsey that you had in the picture. Thanks

Actually, Lisa, I don't know which one is Charles Woolsey. I was hoping that maybe someone would. The roster in which I got the names from was taken from the Monett Times Newspaper. The photo was taken at a separate time and it does not list who is who. Sorry.

The roster is as follows:

Charles Woolsey - catcher
Rex Leckie - pitcher
Frank Geister - 1st base
Tom Lyons - 2nd base
Lane Guinney - short stop
Everet Stringer - 3rd base
Earl Jeffries - left field
Guy Miller - center field
Ernest Brown - right field

The only one identified is Earl Jeffries who is pictured here in the center on the back row. The picture is from his collection.

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