Restoring St Thomas’s Church – the digital way!

We have an extensive collection of photographic images here at the centre and are always keen to display them at every opportunity. So when Rev. Elizabeth Binns (who also happens to be our head of libraries!) asked whether we had any old images of St Thomas’s Church, Radcliffe we were very happy to help out with three impressive images of the church’s interior and exterior. After learning that the Reverend required the pictures for a timeline the church was putting together, I offered to prepare some digitally-restored copies to make them look their best.

interior 2 exterior exterior 1

The images have been professionally mounted on card but as we can see here are clearly showing the ravages of time and the elements: staining, ink marks, mould spots are apparent alongside the more obvious damage to the corners. There is also a strong red colour cast and an overall fading effect that makes it difficult to pick out fine detail – such as the intricate brickwork and the beautiful stained glass windows.

My first task was to scan the images. As they are larger than the maximum document size for the scanner, I scanned them in two pieces and later stitched them together using Adobe Photoshop’s photomerge tool. Once pieced together I could begin retouching the images using Photoshop’s range of healing tools; these comprise of the spot-healing brush, the patch tool and the clone stamp. The mould spots were easy enough to clean as they are scattered about the featureless sky and do not interfere with any detailed areas. However, the ink stains on the interior image proved a little more difficult to remove as they appear over the intricate mouldings of the arches forming the arcade. The final stage of repairing the damage was to replace the missing corners: I chose a source area which I thought closely resembled the missing piece and brushed over the corner with the clone stamp tool.

With all the clean-up work complete, I corrected the colour cast with a levels adjustment and applied some output sharpening ready for their new lives as a digital prints!

Church interior web St Thomas exterior web St Thomas web

The original photographs look like they may have been taken in the earlier part of the last century and I was certainly intrigued enough to take a trip to Radcliffe and discover how the church and its landscape may have changed over the years.

With its ornate pinnacles atop a soaring clock tower, the church building was instantly recognisable. What did strike me, however, was how much the surroundings had altered: where gravestones had once populated the church yard there are now a variety of trees which line the pathways and encourage you to walk over to the far side of the grounds. From here you can look back toward the church and appreciate its commanding presence through the branches of the trees.



This entry was posted in Diaries of an Archive Assistant, Digital Photo Restoration, Local History and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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