Friday, January 29, 2010

SMS Moltke

Staxringold asked me to collaborate with him on this restoration of the SMS Moltke at Hampton Roads, Virginia in 1912.  There was a difficult repair in the foreground on this image, which was 147 MB at full resolution in uncompressed TIFF format.  At preview size the area looks like two white marks in the waves about two-thirds of the way to the left.
This image was digitized from a glass plate negative.  Glass plate photography was developed in the mid-nineteenth century and was widely used until the early decades of the twentieth century when photographic film was introduced.
One of the problems with this format, though, is that the photographic emulsion is prone to damage.  Once damage occurs the emulsion can peel away from the glass.  That's starting to happen in this section.  The challenge I faced was to reconstruct the appearance of choppy water.  The sequence you'll see below was the progressive work on this area that I showed to Staxringold so he can do this type of area himself next time.  The following sections are screen shots at 200% resolution.
If it seems a little nutty to work at 200% resolution on a 147 MB digitization of a negative that was no larger than 5" x 7", maybe it is.  But glass plates are a high resolution format.  Film gained dominance in the consumer market because it was less fragile and easier to work with.  Glass plates remained in use for technical purposes such as astronomy and medical imaging until digital technologies took over at the very end of the twentieth century. 

All in all, that makes a pretty good useful lifespan for a technology that came into wide use during the American Civil War.

1 comment:

New moon said...

wao these pictures are so beautiful so i like it. thanks for sharing us.

Valentines Messages