Sepia Saturday 278: Decayed and Damaged Photographs

Sepia Saturday 278: Decayed and Damaged Photographs


Still on theme for this Sepia Saturday, but  I went with damaged negatives instead of photos!  Afterall, the photos are made from negatives, so in the long run, it works out.  These negatives are square format and were subject to some kind of light leak, likey while inside the camera since there are a series of photos with evidence of the same light leak in the same spots.  The photos are of Romayne (Greenaway) Kitko (1936-2013), my grandfather’s second wife.  While we were going through yet another trunk of photos, we found an old paper photo sleeve stuffed full of negatives.  Being the preservation nerd of the family, I grabbed them up and scanned them, because you just never know what you’ll find.  I’m still using a super old scanner, the Canon Canoscan 8400F because it comes with negative carriers for the most popular film types  (except for 127 film), and  it gets the job done.  Unfortunately, damage like this is just impossible to undo – the negative was overexposed from the light leak and it’s not possible to reconstruct data that isn’t there or was blown out by the light leak.  There’s also a little bit of dust/scratches and other damage from age and being improperly stored for so long.

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As far as a date/place goes, I’d assume 1948-1952 or thereabouts, taken at her girlhood home in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.  Romayne looks to be about 15 or so in the photos, maybe younger.  In the first photo, she’s standing with two children, but no one has yet been able to identify those kids.  They don’t seem to be family members, but perhaps neighbors or friends or something like that.  The other two, she’s sitting in front of a car, and in one, it looks like she might be petting a dog standing  near her, but it’s hard to tell with the light leak flare.  Even though these are damaged, they’re still treasured for a peek into her life as a younger girl and because they’re the earliest photos we have of her.  Even damaged photos have their merits and are worth digitally preserving as they are.



  1. Jo in Melbourne Aus

    What a shame, but still, Romayne looks lovely, although quite different in the first photograph, with different hairstyle, clothing and older too – are you sure it’s the same person?

    1. Sheetar

      Oh that’s definitely her! She looks older in that first one, definitely is wearing makeup and has her hair done up nice. But the nose, smile, and eyes all stayed the same up till her passing. She’s so easy to pick out in photos!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen photographs that look like this before, with this kind of imperfection. I wonder if there’s any kind of hope for digital repair to improve them? (Not an expert in that area, myself.)

    1. Sheetar

      I’m a photographer (film and digital) and a photoshop nerd, so there’s really not much in the realm of digital (or analog) repair that can be done. Once an area of the negative is that over-exposed, it’s basically like a document that someone redacted with a sharpie. The data there is just gone. I could probably rescue some of the not-too-over-exposed areas, but the photos aren’t that high quality to begin with and it’s probably not worth the time. You can still see her face, it’s just the edges that are shot.

      On a color photo, the light leak would show up as a red splotch.

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