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Bill Cotter

Mail car at the 1939-40 NYWF

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Sometimes I get a picture that is so badly damaged I just can't do anything with it. This one almost fell into that category. The negative was really dirty and full of scratches, plus it had some lighting issues when originally taken. I love trains, though, and I hadn't seen another one like it from the Fair, so I would work on it for a while, put it aside, go back to it in between other ones, and keep wondering if I should just give up. I think I put about 12 hours into this over the last six-nine months, but I'm happy now that I didn't walk away from it.

39-mail-car.jpg

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Got a before shot Bill?

Or how about a series of then versus now shots showing the progress?

That would be really neat

Thanks for sharing this unique view,

Randy.

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No, I didn't save the before view as I was going through so many variations on it that at one point I managed to over-write it. There were scratches all across it, a hair embedded in the emulsion on the screen section on the left, and emulsion damage lower right. Happily the clone tool heals all...

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Yes. Here's the next one in the sequence:

39-mail-car-2.jpg

This one was in much better physical condition but is a bit blurry. That's not something that can be fixed as well as scratches, unfortunately.

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I would be one of their first customers. None of the other tools that claim to help in this area seem to do it for me. Does anyone have any suggestions on one that works?

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Bill,

You should check out Hollywood.

Those CSI, Law & Order, FBI, NSA and other 3 letter agencies on TV can always take a severely pixilated image, make it crystal clear, zoom in and remove all blurs without blinking an eye! B)

Whenever I see the show plot line start working with images I always think of the term GIGO, (Garbage in, Garbage Out).

Too bad there isn't a magic restorer for the rest of us.

Randy.

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Just ask my wife how I react every time I see one of those scenes. People expect to be able to take a 40 year old Polaroid and zoom in to see the time on a clock that was on the other side of the Grand Canyon. Even better when they can actually change the camera angle.

I do a lot of volunteer work for the LAPD and it's always fun trying to explain the real world vs reel world. People come in saying that someone broke into their car and they found a long blonde hair that was left behind, so could we please do a DNA check while they wait?

If it only it was that simple.

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If it makes you two feel any better-- we often joke on the staff of CSI:NY that the minute we wrote the following exchange...

MAC TAYLOR: Danny, can you run this for DNA?

DANNY: Sure Mac. I'll have it back to you in two weeks.

...we'd be off the air in less time than it took to get the results!

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I can sure tell you that the people who come in to the front desk don't understand that we don't have the funding to do these tests for minor crimes, that there is a serious backlog for major crimes, and that it doesn't do any good if the suspect isn't already in the database. They know we can do it because they see it all the time so why won't we?

Of course, there are people who complain about non-technical items as well. One guy was absolutely irate as a dinner guest had his car broken into, and why didn't we have someone there to stop it from happening? I went through the crime stats for his neighborhood showing we weren't experiencing any patterns up there, so it just wasn't feasible to have a car sitting outside his house to protect his party guests. I even explained I live near him and thus watch the neighborhood reports very carefully. Didn't matter at all. He stomped out yelling about the lousy job we were doing. In this area, by the way, at night we have one car to patrol 27.5 square miles. Of course that car should be outside his house at all times, right?

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De-blurring basically has to work by boosting spatial frequencies that have been attenuated by the blur. It can work if the attenuation is not too much, but if some frequencies have been attenuated to zero or near zero, trying to boost them enough will only produce noise and artifacts. This is very much related to the theory of how a channel equalizer (ghost canceller) works for digital television, except that in an image, the blur can be a two-dimensional function (for a really complex example, think of the trails left by distant lights due to camera shake in a long hand-held night-time exposure).

By the way, some cell phone camera techniques have been developed in which the camera is deliberately focused slightly beyond infinity, thus blurring objects at all distances about the same amount. This blur is then corrected by a deblurring algorithm to give acceptable focus over a wider depth of field than a conventional correctly focused camera with no algorithm.

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Seeing how some pictures were taken with the camera moving quite a bit, you end up with images where an item can be seen moving all over the place, not just neatly up or down. I can't imagine how they would ever correct for that, but then again, Digital ROC for color correction is far better than I ever expected. Maybe someday...

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