In my business I see a lot of different photos and I have restored original photos from way back in the mid 1800’s right through to modern times. I have had the pleasure of working with many different people and have had an extremely wide variety of classic and creative photo restoration jobs. Recently I had a very cool project come in.
I was called by Redemption Productions, who are filming here in Calgary for the up-coming movie “Forsaken”. The movie stars Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Demi Moore. The film was written by Brad Mirman and directed by Jon Cassar.
For the movie they needed set design photos that would have been shot in the mid 1800’s. Having worked with so many different customers I knew exactly where I had to go to find what we needed. One of my good customers here in Calgary – Doreen Arnott. Last fall Doreen had me restore some very old photos and negatives that were shot in the late 1800’s. The photos were shot by her grandmother who was a photographer. They were taken between 1880 – 1899. My job was to take here original images. ( Some of which were 5 x 7 inch glass negatives ) and make them look time appropriate for the script.
In the script the images would have been shot between 1838 – 1852. Which was around 40 years before the originals were shot. The photos in the movie will be shown in the year 1878, which would make them between 26 and 38 years old. The original photos and negatives that Doreen supplied are actually around 110-120 years old. That being said – the entire process of image capture for a couple of photos in the movie time frame would have been copper plate Daguerreotype images. Here’s how they would have been captured. Using the camera obscura ( a drawing aid for artists that after the birth of photography became known as the photographic camera ) a light tight plate holder was designed to hold a copper plate faced with a thin layer of silver. Prior to exposing the plate in the camera, the plate was made light sensitive by fumes from iodine crystals in a wooden box. After the exposure, mercury fumes would develop the image which was then fixed in a solution of common salt (sodium chloride) or of sodium thiosulphate. The plate could be toned in gold chloride.
Re-creating aged Daguerreotype copper plates and old albumen prints was a nice change from my usual ” making everything look new again” projects. I found the textures and colors of the images from that time to be so interesting and beautiful. Through lots of Photoshop editing I created images that were aged to varying amounts of time. The images in this post are just a small sample of images that I created for the production team and the set.
It was a very fun project and it was a pleasure working with Kim from Redemption Productions. Best of luck to the cast and crew of Forsaken and I hope you enjoy the rest of their time here in Calgary. Hopefully the weather co-operates with the remainder of your shooting schedule. You know Calgary – anything can happen!
PS: In the movie the woman in the photos is Kiefer’s character’s deceased wife. In real life she is Doreen’s grandmother. – Thanks again to Doreen for supplying the original photos.