• Simon Goodman

Repair and Colourising of black and white images

I have been fascinated with the colourising of black and white photos for a long time and have now done over 130 of them, everyone has a story to tell, a capture of an instance in time of maybe a close family member or extended member and even strangers, one of the consistent problems with every photo is that they need a lot of work before I can start the colourising process, apart from tears, creases, drink spots, mould, and just general grunge from the ravages of time, and white spots, not to mention over exposure, under exposure, grainy and faded, some of the photo’s date back to the late 1800’s when cameras were still in their infancy, the lenses not that great or the settings which control the light, the white spots I find on every photo are actually dust particles present in the camera at time of shooting, this was still a problem until digital cameras took over from the 35 mm film, of course engineering didn’t have the advancements they have today to produce items to tight manufacturing tolerances, metal wasn’t used in camera design and construction until the 1920’s, but even with the old cameras you have to open them up to insert the roll of film and dirt gets in, but of course dust is an enemy of anything that involves optics, damage I can repair but a poorly taken photo in the first place is another issue, out of focus, and grainy are the most difficult to overcome, sometimes I look at them after completing the process, and find myself criticising my own work as I have done the best I can, sometimes doing the process twice, but by today’s standards there is just no comparison, occasionally you will get a photo taken with a medium format camera of the day such as a Rollei, Hasselblad Zeis Ikon obviously in black and white and colouring these fine images is so much easier than some I have had to work with and the quality is good when finished as you see a lot more detail.

Trousers on left have had damage removed, trousers on right will go through the same process.

I find my mind wondering about the people in the photo’s who were they, where did they live, when did they die, on occasions I study the photo for any detail, so I can date the photo like an old car, or aeroplane, I then find myself investigating so as to pin down the date and place the photo was taken, and then investigate the history, some already have date and place written on the back with the subjects names, in some cases scanning these and darkening them in photoshop so as able to read the inscription as they are so faded over time, every photograph has a story to tell and I try to bring life back to that instance in history with the colours and moments from the photographers eye to the best quality I can achieve, if there is the back of a chair just peeping in to the side of the image I will remove it and clean up the vacated are to blend in, or maybe there is a wooden post or a tree branch that needs to be erased anything, to make the photo as pleasing and the best that can be achieved as seen on that day.

The image on the right is only part way through the colourising process, I will post the finished image in my next blog, this photo incidentally was taken in 1947, the before photo has a washed out sky, I decided to put birds in the after photo when I was doing the sky.

The image on the left was only a little larger than a postage stamp, the image on the right is after completion, I couldn't resist removing the bags from under the eyes and felt the Kenyan flag went well with this Kenyan gentleman, anything is possible,

this image was sent to me via whats app and of very low quality. Image on right when finished is 300 ppi which is print quality.

These images were taken in Evesham, Worcestershire, England, in 1964, this was a difficult image as a lot of detail involved with the railings and the signpost, all has to be considered and dealt with, but the result is worth it, even the tax disc has to be researched to get the colour right, and 1964 can just be seen on a high resolution image, this is actually my sister, my Father took this photo.

I finished this yesterday just beautiful, and the model is ok as well, (just joking) taken in 1956 in a studio setting with medium format camera, it has even picked up the frame number, I had to make a new decal in Illustrator to go on the oil tank to get it perfect, but it was a quicker proposition than trying to colour the old one, but I had to remove the original first, it is hard to think that was 64 years ago.

If you have any old photos that are dear to you and you would like me to put them through this process please get in touch via email and I will be pleased to supply you with a no obligation quotation, my prices are very reasonable usually between £20.00 and £50.00 depending on how much detail there is in the photo, if you have several you want doing I am happy to discuss a more favourable price, and please keep looking out for my blogs, I will be posting again in a couple of days.

Kind Regards


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