What is the difference between traditional and digital photo restoration ?

Since the invention of the First Commercial Photographic process known as the Daguerreotype in the first half of the 19th Century, there has been evidence of early photographers exploring ways of improving on or manipulating the photo image after the print had been produced. But it was only until the invention of the Photo positive\negative that traditional photo restoration could be adequately utalised. This new way of photo production and printing served a way in which multiple reproductions of the damaged photo could be processed for reconstruction and restoration.

Traditional methods of Photo restoration, also known as In-painting involved working in the dark room with various chemicals and hand implemented tools. Restoration work was taken on by a skilled graphic artist or photographer, who would by hand methodically paint in unwanted dust marks and scratches. Artist’s brushes were used along with retouching dyes, toners and fixers to add or subtract parts of the image. Filters used in the Enlarger in the dark room were utilized for adjusting tone and contrast. Methods for retouching involved multiple negatives that were super imposed and used to create photo montage and other special affects. There was a specific process involved for fixing and restoring the photo by hand and then re photographing and re printing the photo, retouching and re photographing again. This process would be repeated several times until the final print resulted in a restored photograph. Although traditional methods of photo restoration was affective, it was a prolonged drawn out process which was very time consuming.

Since Digital photography, which uses light sensitive sensors to record an image rather than traditional photography that captures an image by exposing it to light sensitive film, there have been huge advancements in the methods used for photo manipulation and restoration. Since the first image was scanned into a computer in 1957 Photo editors and restorers have been easily able to manipulate digital data captured by scanning images and editing them with pixel based Photo editing software. To digitally restore photographs a High end scanner is crucial and is probably the most important first step for Professional photo restoration. Only the best Photo editing soft ware should be used together with an extensive knowledge of the program. As well being technically proficient in all the hardware needed such as computers, scanners, printers Wacom or pen tablets, the photo restorer/graphic artist needs also the skill of an artisan who still as with traditional photo restoration utilizes there hand rendered skills by using a pen tablet and tools found in digital photo editing software. With a critical eye for detail and the ability to draw or fill in and reconstruct tone texture line and color as an artist would, together with a good working knowledge and practice of pixel based graphic hardware and software successful digital photo restoration can be achieved.

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