Tiger 311 – Cleaning a Big Cat

Tiger 311 - Panzers in Berlin 1945

Period photographs come in all shapes and size, and more importantly, all conditions. Since cleaning my first photo for Panzerwrecks 1 in 2005, thousands of photos have passed over my graphics tablet, and the process has become more intuitive. I have trialled many techniques and a lot of software, but there is no substitute for spending time on the photos and trusting what I see on screen.

The photo coverage for Panzers in Berlin 1945 ranged from high-quality images taken from medium format negatives to grainy one-off scans from Russia; with no option but to use what is available. After all, a crappy photo is better than no photo. The images taken by Cecil Newman on 35mm negative were a prime example of there being no other option. Although now in the collection of the Stadtmuseum Berlin, where they are stored in archival conditions, the negs clearly had a difficult past life. Scratches were the order of the day on almost all the images, and the only way these could be removed was with Photoshop, time and patience.

Check out the animated GIF above which shows a before and after. I captured these to give me the impetus to keep going.

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