The Copyist was taken in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, in 1991. I prefer using available light which in this case was a mix of fluorescent and heavily overcast daylight. The painter is reproducing Women Ironing by Degas.
At the time I took this picture, I was under the mistaken impression that the painters working in the Orsay were students learning the style of the Impressionists. It was only much later that I discovered that copyists have a long honored tradition. (1)
When I located the negative for this image I discovered that, despite my best efforts at protective storage, the film was covered with a mildew of some type. Here is an image made from the damaged negative.
My first attempt at restoration was to gently wipe the film strip with an Ilford Anti-Static Cloth. This had no effect. The dirt/mildew was in the form of a hard crust that appeared to be imbedded in the emulsion.
I realized that I needed to clean the film using Edwal Anti Stat Film Cleaner.
- I began by dipping the film strip in water at room temperature.
This softened the emulsion.
- Next, I slipped the film strip, emulsion side up, into a shallow bath of the Edwal.
I gently rocked the bath of cleaner back and forth so that it washed over the emulsion.
- I pulled the film from the cleaner and shook it to remove most of the fluid.
- Last, gently wiped the film strip dry with a soft lint free cloth: a scrap from an old t-shirt.
- I laid the film strip emulsion side up on a clean sheet of paper and let it air dry for a few minutes.
When the film was dry I scanned it using a Nikon Super Cool Scan 5000 ED and saved the image as a TIF file. I turned off the ICE spot removal software because it tends to soften the image, i.e. less sharpness.
The resulting image file was significantly cleaner. However, I would still need several hours of spot and scratch removal before the image was ready for the rest of the editing that I wanted to do.
The result was satisfactory for today but I need to find a better way to clean negatives, in particular, how I can avoid scratching the emulsion. Perhaps using a soft fine hair brush to remove the dirt while the film is in the cleaner would do the trick, rather than wiping with the soft cloth.
(1) Never say `fake’. Forget `forgery’. It’s got to be `copy’ or `pastiche’; Iain Gale;
The Independent; 09/05/1995