Recovering Historical Images

Published July 3, 2018, 7:26 PM


There’s a new photo recovery technique that may help humanity recover some of the world’s oldest photographs that were previously considered to be damaged beyond repair. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario in Canada led by Madalena Kozachuk employed synchrotron X-rays and fluorescence imaging to analyze old 19th-century daguerreotype plates, which used iodine-sensitized silver-coated copper plates that were developed using heated mercury vapor. Over time, the original photos on these plates faded away (sometimes completely) due to years of tarnish and grime building up on the surface. But even though the surfaces of the plates have been obscured, the mercury particles still remain. By using its special X-ray imaging in a scanning process that takes eight hours per plate, the scientists were able to identify where mercury is distributed on each plate, recovering the original photos even when no trace of them can be seen. Trying to physically clean a tarnished plate can result in permanent damage and unsatisfactory results, so it’s hoped that this new non-destructive technique may go on to be used by photo restorers to uncover images lost to history (PetaPixel).

Adobe researchers have developed a neural network that can identify manipulated images using Photoshop. The technology was detailed in a newly published study, which points out that it is often difficult for humans to notice altered parts of an image. However, differences between the original image and edited elements typically persist despite any attempts to obfuscate them, such as applying a Gaussian blur, and machines can be trained to spot those discrepancies. Various differences may exist between original and edited image elements such as different noise patterns and contrast levels. Manual adjustments to these edited elements can make them virtually indistinguishable to the human eye. Adobe’s neural network, however, can not only identify these changes, but also determine the type of tampering technique used to edit the image. The system involves a two-stream Faster R-CNN network with end-to-end training in identifying manipulated images. The first, called an RGB stream, looks for various tampering artifacts, including big contrast differences and altered boundaries. The second, called a noise stream, looks for inconsistencies in the image’s noise to identify edited elements. Such technology could prove useful for verifying the authenticity of images used in photojournalism, photography contests, and similar situations (

The SD Association has just announced the latest specifications for the widely used Secure Digital (SD) memory card format. The new Ultra Capacity (UC) designation will mean capacities of up to 128 terabytes and the “Express” designation will mean transfer speeds of up to 985 megabytes per second. SDUC follows in the footsteps of the original SD card, the SDHC (“High Capacity”), and the SDXC (“eXtended Capacity”), raising the maximum storage capacity level from 2TB with SDXC to 128TB, or a 64x increase. However, there is no word yet on when we’ll be seeing SDUC Express cards hit the market or what storage capacities the initial cards will offer. SanDisk announced a 1 terabyte SDXC card in 2016, but that has yet to materialize on any store shelves, and the current maximum capacity on the market today remains at 512GB (PetaPixel).

And now to our featured readers with three new contributors.

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Christopher Rome, currently studying at the Davao City National High School under the Special Program in Journalism sent in an untitled photo of an early evening city scene in Agdao district. He shares that he is “an aspiring photojournalist and photographer in the future.”  “I choose to capture Davao City specifically Agdao to prove that we are not just a little place but a little city that is developing through the years,” he writes. Christopher won 5th place at the Division Schools Press Conference.

From Raffy T. Relator is the photo of ants titled “Speed Dating-Ant Version.” “I started my mobile photography last March 2017, when I broke up with my girlfriend,” he writes.  “Honestly, mobile photography helped me to move on. Since the breakup, I kept myself busy by taking photos, joining photography groups on social media, and submitting my shots, and luckily my photos were featured there.”

The black-and-white photo, “Anong Mayroon sa Dulo” comes from multimedia arts student Johan Elano.

Other photos on today’s page come from previously featured readers some of whom regularly send photos to this column.

Benson Lim shares “Soul-Searched” a black-and-white photo he took during his “soul searching” at the same time making the most out of his visit to Wawa dam.”

Jay-Rness D. Ceria submitted the untitled sunset in a rural landscape photo. He shares the photo as his tribute to farmers whom he says “are the most resilient, humble, giving, and hardworking people.”

From Wilfred Perez is an untitled photo of two smiling boys carrying a bundle as an amused girl follows. “I just like to share this photo of my sister and my cousins taken at the middle of the rice field at the back of our house,” writes Wilfred. “After picking some ‘gabi,’ I took some photos of them walking on the ‘pilapil’ of the rice field.”

Danica Bataller contributed the black-and-white “Gewang-Gewang” taken last Good Friday in Binangonan, Rizal.

The untitled photo of shoe soles taken from below glass flooring comes from Kevin Aquino.

Delio Tolosa sent in an untitled black-and-white reflection photo of a rainy day at the market.

And from Juanchito Paner is “Ang Kabukiran,” a rural photo of a farmer riding his carabao pulling a bamboo sled.

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For comments, suggestions or just to share an image or idea, email [email protected] or [email protected].