Image Restoration

So I took a picture on my camera of the church from Reading American Photographs.  Using Photoshop, I cropped it and distorted it to make it fit the crop, then following the steps in The Non-Designer’s Photoshop Book, on page 66.   I used 30% opacity on the background picture and then colored it.  I think the color looks good and makes the photo slightly more interesting.   I know it is not as complex as the fruit we did in class, but I think it turned out OK.


photo, photographed from book
photo, photographed from book

As you can see in the before there is some distortion due to how I took the photo out of the book.  The button to change the distortion is under Edit—Transform–Distort, and then I pulled out the edges of the picture.

church with blue sky and gold steeple

The after is colored sky and green grass.  In some sections of the photo I used a darker and lighter shade of green for the grass and blue for the sky.

In class we discussed the cooper photograph, and how now-a-days not many are photographed with their trade.  As an archaeologist I am often photographed in the field by my co-workers for our public outreach or by tourists, who I think are surprised that people actually do dig artifacts out of the ground and it is nothing like the Indiana Jones movies… but what does that say about my socio-economic standings?

3d02050r.jpg (508×640)
original cooper

With the original copper, I cropped it and then used curves to change the white and black values.  I tried to make his face more distinct since he has a very strong face.

restored cooper
restored cooper

Then to restore it further, I used the spot healing brush and the clone stamp to clean up the background.  I zoomed in close and used a small size spot healing brush to remove the splotches on his apron.

Instead of using fruit for a matted engraving I thought of the impacts of political cartoons that was also discussed in some of our readings.  And who doesn’t love George Washington?


As you can see, similar to the fruit, there are tape marks around the edges and the entire image is a bit off white.  So I used the same steps we did in class: turned the image into a layer, created a new white layer and then put the image on top and adjusted with the blending options. I did not need to use the magic wand for any of the edges of this image, nor did I use curves to fix the image.

colored and matted
colored and matted

And I colored it too for a bit more practice.  With the white background it blends into the wordpress background.

We discussed in class that the purpose of vignetting a photo is to draw attention to the center and the subject of the image.  I thought that a portrait would work well with focusing attention.  This soldier looked very serious and was at good proportion.

before editing on soldier
before editing on soldier

I took this image and cropped it and then fixed some of the spots on it with the spot healing brush.  Using the technique we practiced in class, I used the elliptical selecting tool–select inverse–modify–feather at 80 pixels.  Then filled with black (alt-delete).  I noticed that if you keep hitting alt-delete then the corners get darker.  If by mistake (like I did), you hit control-delete it fills the area with white.  It is an interesting shading that happens if you alternate between the two buttons.

soldier after crop and vignetting
soldier after crop and vignetting with only black


black and white corners
black and white corners

The black and white corners look a bit off, but with more adjusting of feather pixels size and area it might look better.  For all of the soldier adjustments, I didnt not use curves to fix the image.

All images except the church are from



Picturing the Past

Gregory Pfitzer discussed the popularity and progress of illustrated books and other publications throughout American history; the genre of pictorial history.  The use of illustrations connected the words and the images in these publications together and created a connection which was helpful for the early immigrants to America who might not know English, and for the people of America who were not as educated and could not read the entire publication (xiv).  The main goal of the early publishers was to create images which would work well with the words of the text resulting in one form of information not overpowering the other form.  A few problems with mass producing early woodcut images was the cost and quality and the increasing question by historians of which images are historically correct.  Once an image was produced and widely published, the public would believe that was the actual way the event happened.  With the invention and popularization of cameras, images for publications were more readily available and could be edited by the publisher to his wants for the publication. Pfitzer used the example of Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, (pg. 83) to show that drawings are not always correct, but will be believed if people are not better educated or have the resources to double check the artist’s work.


Figure 1: Penn’s Treaty with the Indians 1771-72. by Benjamin West (Courtesy of the Penn. Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; gift of Mrs. Sarah Harrison {the Joseph Harrison Jr Collection})

Pfitzer noted that the Quakers are in the wrong type of outfits for the century depicted and that any information about that moment in history is from forty years after the painting was completed.   Using artistic freedom and false information, painters create an image that is believed to be accurate by the public.  This issue is similar to what we discussed in class a few weeks ago and from Trachtenberg: how paintings and sculptures take time to create and so could be misinformed during the entire process of creating a work.  Fruit goes bad, people have to change their position, but with photographs the moment is instantly captured.  Although the public must remember that the photos might be also staged like a painting.  Pfitzer discussed how the public wanted more accurate drawings of the Civil War, with a more emotional connection, and not the same images repeated in every publication they purchased or read.

Pfitzer noted something interesting on page 158: “How might historians distinguish the important from the unimportant, the sacred from the profane?” This also arises the question of how much objectivity can a historian have of any subject matter?  Like what we discussed last week, with the exploration of Western America and the movement of settlers to unknown lands, historians and photographers cannot be in two places at once and so usually only document a moment in time in a certain place.  To one person something might be super important, but to another not so much.  Can historians or anyone really document everything, just in case in the future it is important?  With the increase of social media and ease of technology, documenting more events almost every second of the day, across the globe at every minute is possible.


Image Hunt

Archaeologists frequently use historic maps and photographs to assist in deciding excavation locations for various types of survey.  Historic drawings usually do not embellish too much of the subject within the image, but sometimes the artist does add a person or animal within the drawing to give it more perspective, similar to what Sandweiss discussed on page 144-147.  Using Huts and History: The Historical Archaeology of Military Encampment during the American Civil War,which two of my previous bosses contributed and edited, I wanted to understand how archaeology publications best use images from the Civil War to discuss wooden hut sites in various encampments.  During my employment as a staff archaeologist at James Madison’s Montpelier we spent a summer mapping and excavating hut sites.  Similar to any military place of encampment or occupation, very little artifacts are left behind, so our main goal was to locate the layout of the camp and better understand the rank and organization of the layout of the camp. The following images discuss various camps throughout the East Coast and also Montpelier.  Using a larger map as seen in Image 1, archaeologists and historians can use the river and noted topography on the map to locate camps and other movements of troops.

Image 1: Map


Using hand drawings of the huts and layout of the camps (Image 2 thru 4) allows the historian to understand the perspective of the soldier and step back in time to when these structures were constructed and the very close living quarters which the soldiers had to endure for their time in camp.  Image 3, shows men relaxing outside their hut, and shows in details the construction of the hut and chimney which varied due to supplies available.  The hand drawing in Image 2 shows a metal chimney, but the other images show stick and daub chimneys with various tops, indicating the access to different materials and supplies.   These simple structures usually would sleep four men, and as seen in Image 4, there were a lot of huts and men in the encampment of General McGowan’s South Carolinians, currently located within the grounds of James Madison’s Montpelier.

Image 2: drawing of hut


Image 3: drawing of men outside hut


Image 4: layout of camp


Using photography from the field (Image 5 and 6), historians can better compare the huts of ranking officers to other members of the Company.  These variations between the different members of the Company show the social ranking and the differences of access to items of comfort.  The Officer’s hut in Image 5 has a nice overhang at the door, which is not noted in the hand drawing of the hut (Images 2 and 3) or in Image 6.  Also the roof of the Officer’s hut does not seem to be fabric like the other huts, so with the better roof and timber material on all sides, the Officer had much better sleeping and living accommodations compared to others in his Company.

Image 5: photo of Officer’s hut


Image 6: photo of Calvary men outside huts


These differences of hut styles and accessories might not survive the archaeological record and so are only noted in these drawings and photographs.  Describing the hut shape and size in words only, would probably limit the full understanding of the encampments and lifeways for the soldiers.  Many maps were created during the Civil War to note troop locations and movements, and these can be used by historians and archaeologists, creating a starting point for further research of nearby towns, homes and other communities that might have been impacted by the war.

Image 1 from: Joseph F. Balicki, “Masterly Inactivity: The Confederate Cantonment Supporting the 1861-1862 Blockade of the Potomac River, Evansport, Virginia.” pg. 107

Images 2, 3, 5, and 6 from:  Dean E. Nelson, “Right Nice Little House[s]: Winter Camp Architecture of the American Civil War.” pgs. 181, 185 and 188.

Image 4 from: Matthew B. Reeves and Clarence R. Geier, “Under the Forest Floor: Excavations at a Confederate Winter Encampment, Orange, Virginia.” pg. 200.

All chapters noted above are from Clarence R. Geier, David G. Orr and Matthew B. Reeves (editors), Huts and History, The Historical Archaeology of Military Encampment during the American Civil War (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2006).

Martha A. Sandweiss, Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).





I have these pictures of my great- great grandfather’s grocery store in Rochester NY from c.1890.  My grandmother’s mother is the small child in the upper left window.  I was thinking about using this for my final project and discuss the ways of early stores and maybe other history of Rochester NY.  The picture of the inside of the store could be used to discuss the change from full service grocery stores to self service.  I do not think that any ledgers still exist from the stores, but perhaps I can find other ones from about the same time period and region of western NY.  I just google mapped the street address and it is now a newer building that is a bar with dancing ladies!! Oh how the times have changed. Trachtenberg book seemed to discuss how most pictures are trying to make a statement or could be interpreted various ways.  After reading his book, I do not know how those statements might apply to these two historic photos.  His book was published in 1989, and I wonder what he would have to say about modern digital pictures and the ease of photography as we discussed in class on Thursday.  Certain sections of his book were too detailed, but he did follow the progress of photos from moral agents to documents. As we discussed in class the more public access to photos and easier development of pictures continued to change the impact of photos into more of a social document.   His in-depth discussion of the Flat Iron building in NYC seemed very detailed (pg. 215), and personally I do not analyze every photo I see in that much depth.  Has the world of instant photos and a bombardment of digital images on the internet made us (or maybe just me) avoiding such detailed analysis?  Did the photographer purposely stand to have the wedge shape of the tree match the Flat Iron, or did he just stop and take a picture? I suppose if your job is photography to document life, people and places, the best angle and best light would need to be achieved for a good picture.  Trachetenberg did approach many of the pictures throughout the book with a complex photographer’s eye, which at times seemed too intense.    The use of photo editing software can change some of the factors of bad lighting or cropping, but if too much editing happens the image becomes too staged and fake.  Not  many images now can be taken at face value due to the use of editing software.  PS– If anyone knows how to save these as higher quality photos, so that they are not so blurry, that would be helpful.