Monday, 14 April 2008

Henry & Henrietta Payne of New Normanton, Derby

This cabinet portrait by Frederick J. Boyes of the Electric & Daylight Studio, 22 & 24 Osmaston Road, Derby is the only one known to survive of my great-great-grandparents Henry Payne (1842-1907) and his wife Henrietta Christina née Benfield (1843-1914) taken together, although there are some of them separately. I'd like to use some images of the portrait to show what can be done with some very simple digital manipulation to restore old photographs, and even enhance the originals. As I'm not in any way an expert in this matter, I don't intend it to be any sort of guide or detailed "how to," merely an illustration of the success that I've had with bringing old photos back to life. My own efforts have been achieved using Adobe Photoshop software, but I'm sure there are plenty of other options out there.

Image © & colection of Brett PayneImage © & colection of Brett PayneImage © & colection of Brett Payne

There are actually three known copies of this portrait, one in my own collection (at left), and two in that of my aunt (centre and right). The mount of my copy is rather dirtier and the photographic print itself a little more faded and spotted than the other two, but is the one that I've used for the first part of this article, as I've been able to more faithfully represent the original state on my computer screen, which is a 1024 x 768 True Color Acer TravelMate 250 notebook screen. I've also resized the scan so that it is as close as possible to the size of the original - the card mount measures 106.5 x 166.5 mm - again on my screen. I should point out that it may not appear quite the same on other screens.

Image © & colection of Brett Payne
Version 1 - Raw Scan

The first image (above) shows a raw scan of the photograph with no adjustment of the scanner settings. This leaves the image with a rather washed out appearance, in comparison with the original, and it is not too difficult a task to remedy this with some adjustments in Photoshop using the Levels, Curves and Color Balance tools.

Image © & colection of Brett Payne
Version 2 - Approximate Current State

The second image gives a relatively faithful impression of what my copy of the photograph looks like now. It will be seen that not only has the mount become rather grubby and has slightly bumped corners, while the photographic print has suffered some degradation over time in the form of spotting, but the photo also has some fingerprint marks, some dark smudges or dirt marks of unknown origin, rubbing at the edges, and numerous fine scratches on the surface.

Image © & colection of Brett Payne
Version 3 - Enhanced image

The third image has been slightly enhanced, and is perhaps a little closer to what it originally looked like, apart from the spotting and scratches. In spite of all these blemishes, it is still a very fine portrait, showing Henry and Henrietta dressed in their finest. Henry was by that time a builder and vaccination officer for the Borough of Derby - not bad for someone who was in the workhouse from the age of eight to fifteen. Both of my aunt's copies have the negative number 12948, which my copy lacks, and one of them has the pencilled inscription "Helen About Apr. 1898," which is probably more or less contemporary with the photograph. Helen Payne (1883-1993) was Henry and Henrietta's youngest daughter, who died unmarried, and was probably the author of the inscription.

Image © & colection of Brett Payne
Version 4 - Colorised image

It is also possible to digitally enhance images in a manner which simulates some of the "colouring" methods used by photographers' artists in Victorian and Edwardian photo studios. Andre Hallam has very kindly done an excellent job of colourising the photograph of Henry and Henrietta, for which I am very grateful. He has also cleaned up the image very nicely, so the scratches and spots are gone! I am very impressed with the textures of the fabrics - the colours bring them out very well indeeed. Andre tells me that he is "still learning," but might be prepared to do some of this work on contract in the near future. Please contact him directly if you are interested.

1 comment:

  1. Frank, the picture is beautiful. I think the colorization is wonderful.


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