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Before and After

Before and After

The photos you see here on Shorpy are not just resized versions of the images found in the Library of Congress archives -- they are extracted from the LOC's full-resolution reference tiffs: a process that generally takes anywhere from half an hour to several hours per monochrome image, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done to bring detail out of the shadows, suppress overexposed highlights, and remove blemishes caused by dust, scratches and mold. Color images require correction for color cast as well. The before-and-after composite above shows the condition of some of these old glass negatives a century after they were exposed, and how they look after a day at the digital restoration spa. This one is from 1908. View full size. Below is the 36 mb archival tiff resized to 512 px wide. The restored version is here.

Below is another before-and-after example. Restored version.

Below: Another monochrome example. Click to enlarge.

A more extreme example below. Click here to enlarge. Compare the full-size Shorpy image to the closest match on the LOC site.

Below: Underexposed, strong blue color cast.

Below: A final monochrome example. Negative by Ansel Adams. Click to enlarge.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Damaged negatives

Do you ever work with negatives that have been damaged, perhaps due to getting wet? If so, do you have any recommendations for preparing them for scanning? I've heard immersing them in a shallow dish filled with rubbing alcohol is a simple step that will make a big improvement in their condition. Any truth in that?

Love the work you do and the looks into the past it provides me. I'm inspired to attempt scanning and restoring dozens of old family snapshot negatives.

What Scanner Do You Use For 4x5 Negatives

Dave, I have a lot of my Dads 4x5 negatives, but have yet to find a good scanner for them. Any suggestions.

[Shorpy uses Epson Perfection flatbed scanners for for large-format film and glass plates. - Dave]


What program are cleaned pictures?

[Adjustments are made in Photoshop. -tterrace]

Glass plate negatives

You do a fantastic job of restoring these photos. I think the glass plate negatives look much better after you restore them than the photos taken on film. I can't believe how good they look. It is like stepping back in time.


Great photo-fixing, guys, this really makes the whole difference!


Thank you for the work that you do. I'm sure that you get satisfaction from your hobby without regard to the wider web, but I for one have learned a great deal at Shorpy over the past few years. And speaking as a Washingtonian, I find your geographical bias quite pleasing.

Huzzah for Dave, huzzah for Shorpy!


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