to do or not to do …

two gentlemen from Paris, Ontario. c1890

Toronto. In the vast number of antique photos in archives, libraries, collections, or available for purchase, many have suffered the slings and arrows of time – fading, foxing, bent, broken, torn or worse.  When modern digital technology came along, it became very easy to ‘fix’ many of these old photos.

And there-in, like Hamlet, lies the quandary: to do or not to do the digital fix to enhance damaged or faded prints. A few weeks back, my friend George and I swapped emails on the topic. We agreed that IF the photo was not for sale, THEN digital scanning and fixing to increase the available data would be appropriate. The caveat of course was NOT to enhance any photos online for sale as it might misrepresent the photo to a discerning potential buyer.

Above, an image from the Brant Library  on the ‘Images Our Ontario’ website showing a c1890 shot of two people in a Paris, Ontario, studio. The faded version is the online digital scan of the donation to the library. The much contrastier version is the same image enhanced by George.

My thanks to good friend and serious photo historian, George Dunbar, for the link to the Brant Library image and his enhanced version.

Note: Apologies to Bill Shakespeare and his famous soliloquy, “to be or not to be …”, from his play, “Hamlet”.

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