Questions and Answers

  • What do you do with my photograph?

    I combine my decades of photographic printing skill and experience with high-tech tools to construct a new digital image that embodies the original quality and beauty of the photograph. It's genuine "information recovery," not "information fabrication." I bring old photographs back to life; I do not invent a new life for them.

  • What is "Digital Photo Restoration?"

    Digital restoration recovers and restores a photograph to its proper glory while leaving the original object unaltered. It doesn't involve physical restoration nor alteration of the original photograph. I make a high-quality scan of the photograph, and this is what I work with. All the restorative work takes place in the computer, not on the original photograph.

    Digital restoration can work wonders; it usually produces much greater improvements in image quality than conventional physical restoration. If restoring the image, not the physical object, is what's important to you, then digital restoration is the safest and the best way to resurrect a photograph. There's much less risk of damage to the original than with conventional physical photo restoration.

    Digital restoration is not retouching. The heart of what I do is not painting, drawing, nor hand-tinting. The only time I "create" parts of a photograph is when that area in the original is so badly damaged that there is nothing of the image to be recovered.

  • What kinds of originals can you restore?

    Oh, just about anything!

    I can restore color and B&W slides, negatives, and prints. I can handle sheet film, roll film, and glass plates. I can even reconstruct full-color images from color separation films or plates. The "samples of my work" page has additional examples of my work.

    The original has to be flat so I can scan it. Sheet films and glass plates can't be bigger than 10 in. by 16 in., but prints can be any size. Prints, plates, and sheet film should be at least 3 in. by 4 in. for the best results (I can work from smaller originals, but the sharpness may suffer). Roll film can be any format from subminiature up through 6 cm by 17 cm.

  • What do I get from your service?

    The most important are the high-resolution computer image files, saved in TIFF & JPEG formats on a CD. Those files contain the fully restored photograph that I've made, rendered with maximum possible fidelity and detail. The typical file size is 80-100 MB. I also provide lower-resolution versions of the file for more convenient printing out, emailing to friends, or posting on your Web site.

    You can have unlimited numbers of prints made from those files by any means you choose; you can even print them out on your home computer's inkjet printer. Still, most people can't wait to see the results, so I also include a full-size, high-quality inkjet print.

    And, of course, you get back your original, unharmed and unaltered.

  • How does your service work?

    There are three steps:

    — I evaluate the original photograph. If I think I can restore it, I'll tell you what it will cost, and you can decide to proceed or have me return the original to you, no obligation incurred.

    — If you want me to restore your photograph, you send me the payment for my work. I will work my magic, and I will send you an approval JPEG that will contain a watermarked version of the final image for your evaluation and comment. If you're happy with that photograph, I'll send you along with an inkjet print, return your original, and we're done! If you're not happy with the approval JPEG, I will do further work on the photograph until it meets your approval; if I cannot produce a restoration that pleases you, I will refund your money and return your original.

  • What do you do to the original?

    In order to scan the photograph with maximum fidelity, I sandwich it between glass in the scanner. If it's a framed print or a mounted slide, that means removing it from its frame or mount. (If necessary, originals can be scanned without unmounting them, but there may be some loss of sharpness in the restoration.)

    Beyond that, I do as little as possible. I don't do anything to the original unless I'm absolutely certain it won't harm it. I don't even clean the original unless I'm positive that the cleaning tools and chemicals are 100% safe for that medium and its state of deterioration.

  • How much do your services cost?

    Every restoration is different. I have to examine the original before I will give you a firm price. I will quote you a fixed price based on how long I think it will take me to do the work. The restorations I've done so far have taken as little as under two hours or as long as thirty. Consequently the price can vary considerably from job to job.

    I really can't give you a firm price without seeing the original, but I can tell you it's rare for a restoration to run less than $100 or over $500. In general, restoration of color photographs doesn't cost more than restoring B&W ones. The size of the original also has little effect on the price.

    Restoring faded colors and tones is less expensive than repairing physical damage. I can turn a clean-but-brick-red original back into a pristine full-color photograph in a few hours. Repairing a badly-scratched photo can take ten. Really extensive damage, like the heavy mildew in the cityscape shown on my opening page, can take dozens of hours to repair. The more damage I have to "disappear," the longer the clock runs.

  • How do I pay?

    You can pay me by personal check or PayPal or via credit card (through Paypal). Of course I'll accept an institutional check, a bank or postal money order, or a certified check, but those are not necessary. I don't hold up your job until personal checks clear — I trust people, and that trust has always been rewarded.

    You don't pay anything for a quote. You only need to pay me after I give you a price for the restoration. I require payment in full up front, but I guarantee my work 100%; you will be satisfied or you'll get your money back (see below).

  • Can I set up an account and have you bill me?

    It's unlikely. I really hate doing billing, I hate waiting for accounting departments to process invoices, I hate waiting for the check to show up in the mail. I just totally detest dealing with all of that, so I've set up my rules of business so that I don't have to. One of the perks of being self-employed.

    But ... if your institution absolutely will not do business my way, and you're offering me enough work to justify the aggravation, I might make an exception. It's rare; I've made three in thirty years, but you could be No.4.

  • How can I be sure I'll be happy with the results?

    I guarantee my work 100%. It's most simple — if I can't produce a restoration that makes you happy, I'll refund your money.

    When I believe I've completed the restoration, I'll send you a watermarked "proof" JPEG for examination. If you accept the restoration, I'll send you your original back, along with the with the finished files and an inkjet print. If you're not satisfied, I'll either fix what you don't like or return your money and original.

  • How should I ship a photograph?

    Pack it well! Tape it between several sheets of oversize foamcore or stiff corrugated cardboard (not thin sheet cardboard), and put that inside a bigger box or rigid-wall envelope with ample padding. It should be able to pass the "I can throw the package across the room without harming the contents" test. If you think it needs to be marked 'Fragile,' then it isn't packed well enough.

    If the photograph has an established value, then ship via registered mail, insured. USPO will insure one-of-a-kinds and artwork, unlike most other carriers. If it's not insurable, use any of the standard carriers. Always require a recipient signature.

  • How do you return originals?

    The same way I recommend you ship them. In 30 years of shipping films and prints, I've never had one lost or damaged.

  • Do you use my restored photograph or have any rights to it?

    Absolutely not. The photograph is entirely your property, both the original and the restoration. I can't do anything with it without your express permission. Even the samples you can see here on my web site are posted only because the owners of the photographs gave me specific permission to use them this way.

  • Are you insured?

    Sorry, no. Trying to cover unique originals known to be in a fragile or deteriorated state would be prohibitively expensive for me. I've not lost or damaged someone's film or photograph in my entire career, and I've handled hundreds of originals over those three decades. But, life happens, and I cannot warrant nor guarantee the original you send me won't be the first unlucky victim of accident.

    In other words, if you want me to restore your photograph, you send me your originals entirely at your own risk, and I am not responsible for any direct or consequential damages, either in shipping or while in my care.

  • I've got another question... ?

    Send me email or give me a call (my phone number's on the order page. I don't have an answering machine (hate' em), but I always reply to email within 72 hours and usually within 24.

copyright © 2017 by Ctein. All rights reserved