Sunday, January 17, 2010

Preserving culture

The other day Jose Antonio Vargas wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about online coverage of the Haitian earthquake.  He had very kind things to say about Wikipedia's article on the earthquake--hundreds of people from around the world were prompt about compiling relevant information from newspapers and other sources.

Internet communication brings the world a whole lot closer.  It can bring out the best in us, yet the comfort of distance also produces a few howlers.  When Jose asked for research assistance with that story I stumbled across these highlights from a two hour sequence in the article edit history.  These edit summaries all seem well intended even if not all of them are equally clueful:

18:40, 13 January 2010 Scribeofargos (talk | contribs) (41,751 bytes) (Casualties: UN has confirmed Annabi is missing and updated the latest confirmed casualty numbers released from UN) (undo)
19:07, 13 January 2010 Schuster gph (talk | contribs) m (47,425 bytes) (Put Costa Rica on the list of solidarity. Waiting for reference as it is happening now.) (undo)
19:24, 13 January 2010 Krenakarore (talk | contribs) m (47,896 bytes) (International aid - Brazil) (undo)
19:39, 13 January 2010 Br10ta10 (talk | contribs) m (48,908 bytes) (Added the fact that the main Port-au-Prince jail collapsed (and prisoners escaped) ~~~~) (undo)
19:51, 13 January 2010 RobNS (talk | contribs) (49,108 bytes) (Added image of National Palace before it was destoyed) (undo)
20:47, 13 January 2010 Moncrief (talk | contribs) (52,306 bytes) (International aid: why oh why would someone do this. This is an encyclopedia. SPELL OUT "AND") (undo)

So, during this time while fresh water and mass burial are urgent concerns is it inappropriate to discuss photography?  Here's hoping, with respect, that it's sufficiently clueful.  One of the things that gets lost in a disaster is culture.  What happens to the museums and libraries?  The photograph above is a Port-au-Prince street scene from 1901.  Since I can't get to Haiti to clear rubble from the streets I'll repair a piece of Haitian heritage.

Here's a section near the lower left corner.  Someone wrote a description on the image.  It also has a large fingerprint and several small dirt specks.

A good habit to develop when doing restoration work is to repair small damage first.  The edits so far were all done with the Photoshop healing brush at default settings and 4 pixels diameter.  Now that this has a good region at right to sample from, I increased the healing brush to 21 pixels to address the thumbprint.

With the preparation work done properly, the fingerprint disappeared in under a minute.  The trap to avoid is the urge to rush things.  Nothing looks more artificial than repetitive fiber marks from faulty cloning.  The practice I follow to review a section at 200% resolution.  If the result looks natural enough that I can't see where the edits were made, then it's ready.

This image is not going to be finished in an hour, though.  Similar to the Guadalcanal photograph, it has scratches through important sections.  Whenever a scratch crosses a boundary that boundary area needs special attention to repair.  So a large scratch across a busy street scene requires much more effort to fix than a scratch across a clear sky.  Here's a view of the work on another part of the photograph.  Not exactly before and after, but before and interim.  The portion at right shows the work in progress.  Click in closer to see the details.


Indian Advocate said...

All media outlets are indulging proclamations regarding their "reach" with Haiti. While I agree, all globally accessible information surrounding the Earthquake and the aftermath, has been courtesy real people, what I would really like is it to be better organized. Wikipedia isn't real time. The platforms that are - aren't doing too spectacular a job at keeping it comprehensible for people like me who aren't even from anywhere around that continent.
Oh and Wiki Witch - I like.

Anonymous said...

You Work is beautiful, I haven't read it butt I ill this morning, you have spent much time