From the Editor’s Desk
by Connell R. Miller
Nostalgia Drag World takes pride in bringing you, the reader, hundreds of great photographs in every issue. In addition to those taken recently of events and cars, we love to also give you those shots from days gone by (after all, Nostalgia is part of our name!). Primarily due to the explosion of social media sites such as Facebook as well as magazines such as ours, more and more of these images from the past are surfacing - absolute heaven for any and everyone with even the slightest interest in the history of our sport. That's the good news...
Unfortunately, however, many of those old photographs and/or negatives have suffered the ravages of time and are in less-than-great condition. Check the decades-old racing shots posted and it is painfully obvious that so many have faded and with yellowing of the color photographs. There are some simple, easy and inexpensive cures to bring about the restoration of these treasures and, once finished, easily saved onto a computer's hard drive, external hard drive, thumb drive or CD.
Many of you own a combination printer/copier/scanner, so step number one is to scan that print. If it has been kept in the open or thumbtacked to the garage wall, if it is really “gunky” a trip to your local camera shop should net you the right product that will clean with no damage to the photo itself. If you have a lot of photos, you might want to invest in a dedicated scanner. Starting in the $60-$70 range, with names like Canon and Epson, these will provide a higher quality scan of your images than a desktop combo as well as having the ability to scan your negatives. For my lifetime collection of prints and negatives along with my dad’s thousands of 4x5 negs and 35mm slides going back to the 1936 Olympic games when he was 18, I bought one of the Cadillac’s – an Epson V700. Expensive but well worth it for the tasks at hand. If you only have a few and don’t want to invest in a scanner, Staples, Office Depot/Max, camera shops and some Walmart stores can also scan these photos and negatives and burn the images to a CD.
Once the image is saved in your computer, it's time to make them sparkle. There are free programs available for download and some computers will even come with one that can edit your photos, but most of these are pretty limited in their abilities. Everyone has heard of the software program, Photoshop, and its now commonly used verb form, “photoshopped” – a term often used for any “tweaked” image you might see. I have the quite expensive, full-blown version of Adobe's Photoshop CS5 Extended, but hardly ever use it. Instead, my go-to software is Corel Paintshop Pro Photo X2 that I bought for $49 in 2008, which has about 90% of the capability of my high-dollar CS5! Easy and simple to use, in just a few minutes of work I can crop, sharpen, lighten or darken, add contrast, effects, watermarks, resize it, create collages, and, well…the list goes on. There is even a “Fade Correction” control that, like the old Pepsodent toothpaste commercials told us: “You'll wonder where the yellow went!"
Later I bought the newer X3 version (X4 is out now) at our local Sam's Club for $29 and the popular and very good Adobe Elements 8 (version 12 is out now) for $89 but never really used either one, preferring to stay with my faithful X2 - six years old but still works like a charm! To illustrate the power of a simple, relatively inexpensive image correcting program and what it can do for your old racing photos (as well as those new ones taken with your digital cameras!), take a look at the before-and-after shots of the roadster. It was a scan from a photo I took in 1958 of my young cousin, Buddy Boren's, channeled ’32 with a full-race flatty. (Buddy, incidentally, was the producer of the great, late 1970s, full-length drag racing movie, Wheels of Fire. He was also the promoter of the 1984 Dallas Formula One Grand Prix and the subsequent Dallas Grand Prix races).
The first photo is the original scan while the second one was cropped to bring more of the car forward into the image area. It wasn't terribly yellowed, but the color fade control, with one click, eliminated what there was of it. It was sharpened and brightened a tad, small specks that were on the original negative disappeared and, thanks to the “clone” feature, the oil spots on the driveway also were removed.
There is also a whole menu of effects you can have a lot of fun experimenting with. Attached are two more photos where I've used a few those to create some interesting and “artsy” results. The final shot is another powerful feature of my program, where I can combine multiple photographs and text into one collage – pretty cool!
Hopefully those with a drawer or wall full of old racing photos – or any family photos for that matter - will look at them and decide to take that step to make them look the best they can be and then save them in the digital world for posterity. Once scanned, preserve the originals by placing them in acid-free envelopes available at photo stores or online, and if you put them in an album, make sure the pages are of acid-free material. Most importantly, keep them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight, dust, smoke, etc.
The same goes for framed photographs. Make sure if they are hung with exposure to sunlight or a lot of incandescent/fluorescent lighting, please use UV glass, available at your local frame shop (and remember this: non-glare glass has NO more protection from harmful UV rays than regular clear glass; plus, non-glare’s matte finish dulls the look of the photo. It’s not used very much at all today in framing). For the best preservation of framed photographs, always have a mat between the photo and the glass. Mats are not just for looks – they provide a needed airspace and keep the photo from becoming “one” with the glass, which can unfortunately happen after a long period of time. Make sure the mat is “acid-free” and also use foamboard or other acid-free materials and NOT cardboard as a backer for your framed piece (cardboard is loaded with nasty acids!).
We at NDW are always open to publishing great old racing photographs, so if you have some good ones that are interesting and, hopefully, feature cars ‘n stars from the past, attach them in an e-mail to us and we may use them in a future issue. NOTE: Please remember – we want to see your photo, not someone else’s (no matter how interesting) that has been copied from the internet without their permission!
Connell R. Miller
Nostalgia Drag World - by Connell R. Miller, Editor-in-Chief
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