Saturday, January 16, 2010

Selecting a project

This week a Marine who's stationed in Afghanistan posted to my Wikipedia user page to ask for assistance learning digital image restoration.  He said he found me through the site's Military History Project, which is a place where editors organize work on the subject, and asked me to select his first project.

It's important to work on a subject one cares about so I headed to the Library of Congress website and ran a search for the keyword "Guadalcanal".  It was the first major Allied offensive operation in the Pacific during World War II and the Marines saw heavy action there.  Found a number of high quality images, not all of which are in public domain.  After researching the rights status the best I could find was this image of a team of people aiding a man on a stretcher.  It's an excellent photograph in terms of composition and expression.  But it wouldn't be a good beginning restoration project.  A view at full resolution reveals a large number of surface scratches at important areas.  The injured man's face at right is a sample.  The problem gets worse at lower left where they're dressing his wound.

So I ran a second search for Iwo Jima and located the Second Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines landing at the beach on February 19, 1945.

The Iwo Jima photograph also has scratches and even fingerprints, but none of the most serious damage occurs in a crucial area.  At right is a crop of the fingerprints at full resolution.  It's fairly easy to repair a problem of that size when it occurs on a sandy beach or in a sky: the historic value of this image is not tied to the placement of a few grains of sand.

The important information is mostly in the human figures.  As you'll see below, the work to be done there is at a level a beginner could handle.   The ideal thing to go for with a starter project is a project whose damage in critical areas is limited to small dirt and fiber issues.

Now I'll be getting to work on a new selection for my own projects: a photograph of Port-au-Prince from 1901.  More about that tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how awesome of a job it must be to restore old WWII photographs. The first displayed is beautiful regardless of its flaw, so much so in fact that I'll be making it my desktop picture. :D

Anonymous said...

It must be an awesome job to restore such fantastic pieces of our history. The first one displayed was so beautiful (even though it did have that scratch; I didn't catch it at first) that I'm putting it as my desktop background as we speak! :)

Rosemildo Sales Furtado said...

Olá amigo! Estava passando quando avistei teu espaço, invadi, gostei e não resisti em dizer que tens um espaço lindo e com belas ilustrações. com certaza voltarei mais vezes com mais tempo.



Lise Broer said...


Abi said...

Interesting blog :)

Dylana said...

Lovely blog!