Sunday, July 3, 2011

Handwriting and other challenges.

One problem that we keep running into is reading the very old calligraphy on some of the pictures and deciphering who the picture is supposed to be. That can be troubling but it is not as trying to read the black/gray pencil markings on a piece of black/gray paper that is well over a hundred years old and very worn off.

I appreciate my ancestors not pushing the pencil too hard on the back of the photo, however that has made it very hard to read what is written on some of these cards. When we have a very clear picture as this one below:

It would be nice too know who is on the picture, reverse the card and you get this. I have tried everything I can think of, changing the image contrast, changing light - applying filters. There must be some sort of trick to reading this, hopefully its not something that requires a lab!

It would be greatly appreciated if you can give me some ideas on how to read this. If you are aware of a way (hopefully using PSE 9) to bring the writing to the foreground it would be greatly appreciated. I might take a few of these pictures down to my local historical society to see if they have any tips on what to do.


  1. I am enjoying your blog and your project. I have encountered many photos with faint inscriptions on the reverse side. I have had the best luck reading these after scanning at 600 dpi and zooming in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop Elements.

    The images are scanned in full color as a TIFF file. This is my archive copy. I make a copy to play with and try all the different controls. It may help to convert to black and white. I play around with contrast, sometimes even making the image into a negative.

    Good luck with this project. I can't wait to see what you find next.

  2. I have PSE 9, I'm hoping to find a "process" that always works. I have written to a handful of museums hoping one of them will be able to give me some tips.