Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding life in an old family portrait

I was 'enhancing' this very old and faded family portrait. It occurred to me that some people probably have never seen the surprises that emerge as the aged yellow is drained away and the fleeing contrast is caught and captured.

Unfortunately in this case, the really fine detail will remain lost forever but a few new characters and objects came out of the mist.

We sometimes find these people who stand in the shadows, or behind someone else, or far off to one side. I wonder if their reticence is a signal of a shy personality.

Some things I discovered:
All the girls save one, are wearing shoes.
The young boys are not.
There is a lovely table cloth under the flower vase.
It probably isn’t a family picture at all but a school picture or perhaps just a picture of three or four generations of children in one family.
One fellow has a nice watch chain.
There are two babies.
There is a cap hung on the wall on the left.
There is a flag that caught the wind while the camera shutter was open and obscured the “WE” in welcome.
And a few other things.

I seldom try to repair an old photo as you know; but I do sometimes enhance one a bit to find the details.

Family Reunion originalFamily Reunion


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  1. Wonderful. It's always nice to see images brought back. Faded mysteries.

  2. Thanks much. As I have rattled on many times: I draw a line between enhancing and restoring. I try to avoid fixing scratches and tears as I think they contribute to the aura and story and beauty of an old photograph. Enhancing what primitive photography has lost in the process of aging, is different. If it brings out a detail that was obscured or invisible, enhancing the photograph with a little extra tuning is okay.



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