Subject: Re: Photo restoration - how to deal with silvery sheen in parts of image?
> Some 80 year old photos in my possession have an odd haze or sheen
> over some areas, mostly within a couple centimeters of the edge. The
> areas mostly affected are dark. Thus the shadow detail is obscured.
> The haze or sheen is not uniform, but more evident in some dark areas
> than other dark areas. It seems that areas sullied by fingerprints are
> less affected.
Common problem with old silver-gelatin prints, especially if they were
not fixed properly when they were made.
It's unlikely you will be able to scan the print and get a decent
result. The "sheen" you describe is actually elemental silver forming on
the surface of the print, and it's reflective enough that you'll get
poor (and sometimes bizarre) results when you try to scan it.
In the prepress industry, the typical way of dealing with prints like
this is to put them in a special "copy stand" with lights around its
edge that illuminate the photograph uniformly, and then photograph the
print with a horizontal camera. By carefully controlling the lighting,
you can reduce the "sheen" considerably; you then make a print from the
photograph of the original, and scan that duplicate.
Many print shops and trade shops have the equipment to do this. If the
photograph is important and irreplaceable, I would suggest looking for a
trade shop or service bureau in your area and having them make a
duplicate print for you. (Some custom photo houses can do this as well.)
The duplicate will have more shadow detail, and will be easier to scan.
I've been told that you can sometimes remove this "sheen" by immersing
the print in photographic fixer, which works by dissolving the unexposed
silver ions in the emulsion. I have never attempted this and do not know
if it works.
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