Some notes accompanying the exhibition At First Sight: Peninsula and Bay photographs of J.W. Twycross 1918-1925, at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 29 - February to 4 April 2012. To view some of the images from the show, find J.W. Twycross in the portfolio section of this site.
The Restoration Process:
The images in this exhibition are digital reproductions from negatives that are almost a hundred years old. A few are reproductions from old prints where no negative could be found. A number were never printed by the photographer.
John Twycross developed his own negatives, working at home. His prints were mostly small display prints on bromide paper. A very few approached the size of an A4 sheet. The negatives were stored for about 60 years in a box in individual envelopes. The box moved through many houses.
Initially, MPRG curators Jane Alexander and Rodney James consulted with the Twycross family as to which images they thought were suitable for “At First Sight.” The emphasis would be Port Phillip Bay.
The negatives were cleaned and digitally scanned by Will Twycross to high resolutions. File sizes range from 100MB to 600MB, depending on the size of the final print (the larger images are approximately 60x 80 inches). A correctly made scan is crucial to ensure that the detail in both highlights and shadows is preserved. In this process, careful attention is paid to histograms, which present complete image data in a graphical display of the tonal range.
The making of fine photographic prints is a highly interpretive process, in both traditional and digital workflows. It is a translation, and as such its aim is to create a work that is at once beautiful and true to the original.
Through a meticulous process, David Heinlein, a master printer from New York, has digitally restored the resultant scans, removing scratches and other damage caused by time. In carefully balancing the tonality of the images, he has attempted to preserve the quality of traditional darkroom work in these digital prints, using Adobe Photoshop tools to mimic dodging, burning, contrast control and toning.
Fractal software was used in creating the twenty or so larger images, in order to avoid the digital artifacts often associated with extreme resizes.
David studied the original prints and has managed to align his vision with that of the photographer, although 100 years have passed. Initial digital restoration of the photographs started in 2005, and during that time Christine Twycross consulted with David in New York over the final results, and shared the history behind the images.
Finally, in a work of trans-Pacific collaboration (made possible by digital technology that would have stunned John Twycross), the finished files were sent electronically to Chris Pennings (JCP Studios), for digital output on Hahnemühle fine art paper according to David’s specifications. Melbourne-based , Chris provides high-quality exhibition prints and editions for artists and professional photographers.