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Throughout 2020, I have been scanning the thousands of B&W negatives that I have taken ever since I go into photography back in the mid-60s. All of them have been well organized, making it easy to see when and where they were taken, but not all are in the best of shape after all these years. Many have had small dust spots, but some, like the example here, have had large spots, scratches, and marks that spoil the image.

Only a few of those old negatives are “special” to me.

Many of the photos are not that important to me, nor are they what I would call a “good” quality photo. Thus, I leave them as they are, but some are special to me for one reason or another. Be it they are one of those “good” photos or bring back a special memory. I want to restore those to like-new condition, as good or sometimes better than when I shot them all those years ago.

old negatives before restoration

Here is an example that I ran across today. It’s a photo of myself on Colby Pass in Sequoia National Park’s backcountry, taken back in September of 1973. As you can see, this was in bad shape. Many dust spots and even some scratches from something in the camera. These scratches came out as dark black straight lines on the image.

Back in the day, I would have had to live with some of the imperfections.

Back in the days when the darkroom was the only way to print and see these images, I would have had to send it to a negative retoucher to correct. They would have had to view the image under a microscope, filling in the minute scratches on the negative. Costly, especially to a kid just out of high school, and time-consuming. Let’s just say, I would not have done that. I would have just lived with those black scratches.

Now that I have the images digitized, I can clean them up in photoshop. So now that image is better than it would have been “back in the day.”

Old negatives after restoration

Do you have your own box of dirty pictures?

Do you have your own box of old negatives, slides, or photos, that box of dirty pictures that’s been hiding in the closet? Now is the time to have them scanned and those few that are important restored. If it’s a box of old negatives, you may not have any idea what they are of. In that case, we can scan them first. This work is all done by hand, so we can see what they look like as we scan them, allowing us to cull out the blanks, out of focus, and bad photos. Once you see them, you may find a few special ones, and those are the ones you can have us restore for you.

The restoration or clean up of the images will be the more costly part of the process, and we will give you an estimate on the cost before we do any work.