Then consider that at time of printing all those years ago it was rushed through a busy photographic lab with near exhausted chemicals and the shortest possible washing times to clean said chemicals from the film and the paper. The quality of the film, the actual print and their processing, plus how the finished photographs are stored, make a radical difference to how long a print lasts before beginning to deteriorate significantly - and to what we can do to save them.
Many of the older images in the Thiakos Zissis collection have been affected by the years.Sunlight, chemical fumes and residues in the paper or negatives, humidity, chemicals, improper processing, fungus - all affect the coloured dyes that go to make up the actual image that we see.
As these dyes fade, initially the red and then the green and blue, the actual physical data that makes up the image disappears.
The image initially becomes dull and then colour-distorted as mid-tones and fine detail fade, and are eventually lost.
This damage is compounded if the initial quality of the image was poor due to a low quality camera, very small format negative stock or fast "grainy" films where the usually infinitesimal dots of red, green and blue that make up the image become large enough to be visible in the print.
400 ASA 110 format colour negative stock is a nightmare on this basis; and like a nightmare it seldom ends well.
A number of techniques exist to help repair or else perform damage limitation these problems once an image is scanned into a computer, a process complicated by special finishes on the paper such as matt or silk textures.
Once images are converted into digital data, correcting colour distortions and filling in missing tonal variations based on mathematical analysis of the image's colour and tonal composition can enhance what remains of the image.
In severely damaged cases tweaking these factors individually and manually is often the only way as the computer lacks enough valid colour data to analyse in order to make appropriate deductions.
All bearing in mind not all data can be extrapolated, if detail is gone - it is lost.
Using another technique the computer can be instructed to view a specific colour as "absolute white" (or black) and to adjust all other colours on the basis of that yardstick.
Once in a while this works well - but the results are much less successful if the image is too grainy to offer a reasonably flat area of colour to select or the distortion of the colours is not particularly uniform such as with a stained, unevenly faded or dirty images.
Our goal in the restoration of the Thiakos Zissis collection was to return the images as close as possible to "new" condition, or at least to enhance image clarity as much as was practical.
Dirt and dust have been "cleaned" from the images together with the occasional fingerprint.
Crooked horizons have been straightened where the photographer(s) were no doubt working under less than ideal circumstances and more extreme distortion by wide angle or poor quality lenses (pincushion and barrel distortion, fall-off of illumination, parallax distortion and poor focus) have been corrected as much as was practically possible.
Undoing the work of the years and the environment is not always completely achivable, but we have sought at least to reduce significantly their impact before the images deteriorate to the point where it becomes too late.
We hope the result is acceptable to you, the viewer.
No purely "cosmetic" changes have been made - litter has not been removed nor graffiti cleaned.
No objects have been added to the images at all - nor any removed that could not have walked out of the frame on their own, and that in just one case. If you can identify the image - let me know!
For the downloadable version of the presentation some loss of quality is unavoidable as the download is under 10 Megs and the CD ROM is over 350 Megs - economies must be made somewhere! For perfectionists, the CD ROM is recommended, or else the book itself.
Strangers to Cyprus may think the clear azure of the skies in some images and the deep blue of the sea is strongly suggestive of photographic tampering as it is just too clean and vivid to be true.
This is not the case.
Famagusta really is that beautiful.