Michigan & Pennsylvania Relief Association camp

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
3,249
Location
California
When you enlarge the photos some of the people on the right almost look odd, like they were superimposed into the photo or is it just a peculiarity that occurs sometimes with old photos taken in outdoor settings? Nonetheless, the photo is really neat, thanks for sharing it!

I would guess they were not added to the photo. There are other photos that appear to have the sky altered. Maybe @civilwarincolor knows more about this? Look where the trees meet the sky in these photos.
Unfortunately this is more common than you would think. When negatives became damaged to the point that prints could not be made the photographers used techniques to allow them to keep using an image. Without the advent of Photoshop it was not uncommon for these changes to be made directly to an original negative! This meant that they could get a print from the photo that could be sold, but any changes made were permanent.

One thing that is important to remember is that we often look at these images as enlargements and the damage is very noticeable. During the 19th century the most common type of print (which most of these were) was a stereo card that had two nearly identical images each about 2x3". Another common item was the Carte de viste. These were the "trading cards" of the day and were about the size of a modern business card. When you have images this small and you had a sky or background that had darkened due to exposure, bad chemicals, etc. the only way to fix this would be to use black paint on the negative to mark out the damaged area. When the negative was exposed the black paint would end up as a blank white space and since this is typically how sky was on undamaged prints, it was "OK". When you look at this on the size and scale of the finished prints it was not that much different than the sky would have been on a "good" print.

So, nobody was superimposed, just an example of trying to do damage repair.

Here are two of my choices for worst damage cover up in a CW photograph.

The first one of Meade and Porter is actually an interior shot, but since the walls behind the subjects were usually blank, they treated it the same as they would sky.

04341v.jpg


The next is Grant. When you look at this image of him at Cold Harbor it looks fine at this resolution, but when you download the full size image and zoom in you see the problem.


04407v.jpg


This is the same image, just zoomed in on the face to show changes made. In this case they would have used white paint on the negative to make black marks that would show up on the finished print.

grant_damage.jpg
 

Attachments

Anna Elizabeth Henry

1st Lieutenant
Silver Patron
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
3,499
Location
New York, New York
Wow! Thanks @civilwarincolor I had no idea they did that kind of primitive photoshopping. It explains why those men off to the right look a little odd. I've seen photos with the wonky looking trees before like the ones Mike has in his second post and just assumed it was windy and it made the trees look funny. Would never have guessed they painted a blank sky in.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
3,249
Location
California
Wow! Thanks @civilwarincolor I had no idea they did that kind of primitive photoshopping. It explains why those men off to the right look a little odd. I've seen photos with the wonky looking trees before like the ones Mike has in his second post and just assumed it was windy and it made the trees look funny. Would never have guessed they painted a blank sky in.
Yes, they seemed to have no problem damaging the negative. Sometimes you can tell why they would have done it as with the two that @Mike Serpa shared at the start of this post the image is fairly dark and the resulting sky would have just looked really dark. In others the image itself looks great, so not sure why the did this.

If you look at this picture of Lincoln meeting with officers at Antietam you can tell that the same thing was done, but the main part of the image looks good. No idea why they would have masked out the sky on this one.

04352v.jpg


To be honest when I work on restoration of images I replace the skies in my images today, but since I am using Photoshop I have a lot more control over it and can make it so that you can not really notice.

If you look at images like this you can see how it possibly would have looked for an image that was not corrected. Due to the damage in images like these below I still have no way to "fix" it in Photoshop to bring the image back usable form.

01153v.jpg



04261v.jpg

00244v.jpg


00798v.jpg
 

Attachments

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
8,893
Yes, they seemed to have no problem damaging the negative. Sometimes you can tell why they would have done it as with the two that @Mike Serpa shared at the start of this post the image is fairly dark and the resulting sky would have just looked really dark. In others the image itself looks great, so not sure why the did this.

If you look at this picture of Lincoln meeting with officers at Antietam you can tell that the same thing was done, but the main part of the image looks good. No idea why they would have masked out the sky on this one.

04352v.jpg


To be honest when I work on restoration of images I replace the skies in my images today, but since I am using Photoshop I have a lot more control over it and can make it so that you can not really notice.

If you look at images like this you can see how it possibly would have looked for an image that was not corrected. Due to the damage in images like these below I still have no way to "fix" it in Photoshop to bring the image back usable form.

01153v.jpg



04261v.jpg

00244v.jpg


00798v.jpg
Very poor condition. Thanks for help cwic!
 

Attachments

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,672
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Speaking of the OP of relief organizations, recently encountered this one ' out there '. One of the women in the photo tends to be identified as Julia Wheelock? We've recently had discussion about images being misidentified- it's not Julia. Wish we did know who they were! Bet someone could come up with a good guess. Julia was there ( and a gazillion other places in need ), this woman just isn't her.
 

Brendan

Corporal
Joined
Aug 11, 2008
Messages
378
Location
Colorado
I think William Frassanito discusses that sky masking technique in Gettysburg: A Journey in Time. I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I recall this was a source of frustration for him when it came to identifying original photo locations, since it obscured the horizons on many of the iconic Gettysburg images.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
1,839
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
On the original photo LOC# 01806, I have to question the excessive amount of litter and haphazard placement of materials. This is very uncommon for any photos I have seen taken in the field. Most settings are extremely clean and orderly which is a requirement from headquarters. Now I understand this is only a Relief Association, but whatever guidelines they were to follow seems to have been cast aside as well.
Lubliner.
 

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
8,893
In the first photo. The woman and man sitting on ground. Why would the man have a great big bow on him? Any thoughts.
He doesn't seem happy with it.

On the original photo LOC# 01806, I have to question the excessive amount of litter and haphazard placement of materials. This is very uncommon for any photos I have seen taken in the field. Most settings are extremely clean and orderly which is a requirement from headquarters. Now I understand this is only a Relief Association, but whatever guidelines they were to follow seems to have been cast aside as well.
Lubliner.
It looks like garbage on the ground at the right. Difficult for me to determine what is going on. Washing dishes in the center? Sewing on the left?
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
1,839
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
The man standing behind the basket is a pouring a bottle!
I cannot believe the litter in the foreground could be food scraps. That would be totally impermissible, due to pesky insects. I half wondered if a quilt cover was laid out on the tent, and cotton was in the bowl in front of the sitting woman. My first thought was picnic blanket, but the idea of detritus baffles me.
Lubliner.
 

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
8,893
I cannot believe the litter in the foreground could be food scraps. That would be totally impermissible, due to pesky insects. I half wondered if a quilt cover was laid out on the tent, and cotton was in the bowl in front of the sitting woman. My first thought was picnic blanket, but the idea of detritus baffles me.
Lubliner.
I wonder if the women are sewing and ribbon guy got roped into helping.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
1,492
Unfortunately this is more common than you would think. When negatives became damaged to the point that prints could not be made the photographers used techniques to allow them to keep using an image. Without the advent of Photoshop it was not uncommon for these changes to be made directly to an original negative! This meant that they could get a print from the photo that could be sold, but any changes made were permanent.

One thing that is important to remember is that we often look at these images as enlargements and the damage is very noticeable. During the 19th century the most common type of print (which most of these were) was a stereo card that had two nearly identical images each about 2x3". Another common item was the Carte de viste. These were the "trading cards" of the day and were about the size of a modern business card. When you have images this small and you had a sky or background that had darkened due to exposure, bad chemicals, etc. the only way to fix this would be to use black paint on the negative to mark out the damaged area. When the negative was exposed the black paint would end up as a blank white space and since this is typically how sky was on undamaged prints, it was "OK". When you look at this on the size and scale of the finished prints it was not that much different than the sky would have been on a "good" print.

So, nobody was superimposed, just an example of trying to do damage repair.

Here are two of my choices for worst damage cover up in a CW photograph.

The first one of Meade and Porter is actually an interior shot, but since the walls behind the subjects were usually blank, they treated it the same as they would sky.

View attachment 249152

The next is Grant. When you look at this image of him at Cold Harbor it looks fine at this resolution, but when you download the full size image and zoom in you see the problem.


View attachment 249153

This is the same image, just zoomed in on the face to show changes made. In this case they would have used white paint on the negative to make black marks that would show up on the finished print.

View attachment 249155
 

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Messages
1,492
Possibly copy negatives were made use of by Brady or others that became damaged and needed retouching. In the National Archives collection of negatives this image (B-36) seems to be close to an original and needs no retouching. Of course, this could be a copy as well, but it seems in pretty good shape. Locating the first generation negative, if it still exists, could be next to impossible. I guess photographers used whatever was available.


Fold3_B36_Lieutenant_General_Ulysses_S_Grant_Standing_by_a_Tree_in_Front_of_a_Tent_Cold_Harbor...jpg
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top