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Restored images kindly provided by
Comments by Alan Griffiths
Digital restoration of a damaged photograph can bring fresh life to an image that could otherwise be forgotten. Within the museum and archival community there will mixed opinions on what is acceptable in restoring a poor quality original and this exhibition is to highlight some of the issues. With archival restoration of the original image it should be undectable and so the restored image never shows the hand of the skilled restorer.
With digital restoration the purpose can be different as the original image is never touched. The cloning of areas to remove original water spots from film negatives may be permissable to create a digital master for publication just as the removal of surface abrasions from the scan of a Daguerreotype can bring forth the clarity of the plate an improve scholarship. How far one can go depends on the circumstances and the addition of colour or the creation of a frame will be considered to overstep accuracy by some. Experts on fabrics and the history of fashion may question colour choices where there is no trace of tints, paints or a colour original. Specialists in early frames will question frames that do not match the somber tones and styles of the period.
This online exhibition shows us the possibilities and raises the questions and thanks to John Steele for sharing his work with us.
Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs Division, National Gallery of Canada - The Origins of Photography: The Matthew R. Isenburg and Enhanced Isenburg Collections 1840-1880, Private collection of Leigh McKinnon, Private collection of Nelson Anderson, Provided by the artist - John Steele.