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Help restoring faded handwritten document...

New Here ,
Aug 15, 2013

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Hi! I have been doing some ancestry research and came across a document I was looking for for a long time. However, the document is faded and I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what it says. Here are links to the 2 pages of the document:

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-12403-18934-41?cc=1807092&wc=5840150

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-12403-18935-40?cc=1807092&wc=5840150

I'm by far not a photoshop expert, but I can follow instructions quite easily or if anyone can help me out with this, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

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Help restoring faded handwritten document...

New Here ,
Aug 15, 2013

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Hi! I have been doing some ancestry research and came across a document I was looking for for a long time. However, the document is faded and I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what it says. Here are links to the 2 pages of the document:

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-12403-18934-41?cc=1807092&wc=5840150

https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-12403-18935-40?cc=1807092&wc=5840150

I'm by far not a photoshop expert, but I can follow instructions quite easily or if anyone can help me out with this, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 15, 2013

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If these are at the full resolution that you have, the noise/grain will create issues along with the lack of resolution.  You can try using an adjustment layer such as levels to increase the contrast to make the text more legible.  Open the file in PS and select from the main menu: Layer>New Adjustment layer...>Levels.  When the levels dialog box opens you can adjust the sliders below the histogram (the end point ones) so that you can hopefully read the text better.  Maybe someone else has some better suggestions.

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 15, 2013

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Is that your only access to the document?   If so, they sure don't make it easy.    If not, what format and size do you have the image at? And could you upload _that_ image to this forum as opposed to the above viewer.

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Aug 15, 2013 0
New Here ,
Aug 15, 2013

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record-image (45).jpg

record-image (46).jpg

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 15, 2013

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You are not going to do a whole lot with that, as it is just too bad, and whoever got it to this stage has done some damage because what looks like sharpening noise is making it difficult to clean up the grey backgound tones.  So the best you are going to do is a little bit of noise reduction, and a steep curve to maximise the contrast.  I doubt you'll ever be able to read more than the odd word.

It's a bit tricky typing right now.  We have had seven severe earthquakes in the last 40 minutes, and a number of Strong and Moderate quakes.  The house is mving all over the place, and it feels like it is moving even when it isn't.  Hmmm...   Not half as exciting as I imagined earthquakes would be.  Just plain scary! 

http://www.geonet.org.nz/quakes/region/wellington/felt  (Starting at 2.31pm)

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Guru ,
Aug 15, 2013

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Best wishes to you Trevor and be safe. It seems the second document is a little bit more readable. It's in Spanish and for what I can tell is a certificate of death. If someone here can put some magic to make a bit more readable it will be great. It is a really old document from the 1800s.

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Aug 15, 2013 0
New Here ,
Aug 15, 2013

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Yes! It's a death certificate from an ancestor of mine called Cayetano Antonio Nater. He died in the city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, back in November 30, 1839. The certificate should tell a bit more about his family and such, and therefore it's a huge find I made recently since I had never come across a document of him, just references in documents of other relative. I'm hoping that I could get access to the original or something of better quality to see if I can get the information. Nevertheless, any further help is greatly appreciated!

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 15, 2013

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It's a shame the copy is so bad.  The original might be just as difficult to read, but it might be worth trying to either get a better copy or traveling there and seeing it for yourself.  Being able to get a good color scan helps too, as you can often uses the colors in the original document to improve the contrast better than just a B&W.   I used to do a lot of genealogy work and there is nothing like going to the location and doing the research yourself.  You tend to find so many things that would have been impossible otherwise. 

Hope all settles down, Trevor! 

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Aug 15, 2013 0
New Here ,
Aug 15, 2013

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It's very frustrating to find such a valuable document and not be able to figure out what it says (mostly, at least). I plan on giving the church that should have the original a call so I can check if I can get a scan or even a high resolution photo of it. There's also the possibility of rescanning the original microfilm if I can get ahold of it at one of the research centers. But then again, it's just goes down into getting a better, higher resolution scan of the document.

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Aug 15, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 15, 2013

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It's worth the effort.  I heard that there was a photo of my great-great-grandfather haning in a courthouse on the East coast.  I tried to get a copy of it but to no avail.  I finally went out there and copied it myself.

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Aug 15, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Aug 16, 2013

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If all you want is to read it (as opposed to framing it) it's eminently fixable.  I deal with worse images of ancestral records all the time.

I applied one of my routines to your first image, and this is a downsized version of what I came up with. 

It's totally legible to a native Spanish speaker familiar with the writing stiles of the era.

record-image_WKG-COPY.png

If you're happy with the result I can put a full resolution, layered TIFF or PSD on Dropbox.

It's just a question of straightening the image, trimming it, running a Median filter on it, setting the black and white levels, and then duplicating the background layer two or three times in various blending modes like Multiply or Linear Light, etc. whatever works best.

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Aug 16, 2013 1
New Here ,
Aug 16, 2013

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That's precisely what I'm looking for! Just being able to figure out what it says and be able to use the information! 😄 Are you able to do that with both images? That would be greatly appreciated!

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Aug 16, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Sure, Ill fix the other one for you.  Be patient, though. It might take me an hour or two to get around to the second one.

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Aug 16, 2013 0
New Here ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Not a problem! 🙂 Thanks so much!

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Aug 16, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Here's the 50% JPEG of your second image:

record-image_2.jpg

I'll give you the link to the full-res TIFFs of both, without the layers because the multi-layered PSDs weigh in at 103 MB each.  It might take more than a few minutes for the first one to appear in Dropbox because it's still uploading, so you may want to wait a while; the second one is already there.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/57727070/record-image_1.tif

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/57727070/record-image_2.tif

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Aug 16, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Trevor, I had missed the part about the earthquakes.  Yikes!  Wish you the best.  Keep us posted.

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Aug 16, 2013 0
New Here ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Thanks a million! I'll try and start figuring out what the document says and see what I can find. 🙂

Trevor, hope that the situation with the earthquakes hasn't caused any major problems. Stay safe!

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LEGEND ,
Aug 16, 2013

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I assume I can delete the files from my Dropbox now?

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Aug 16, 2013 0
Guru ,
Aug 16, 2013

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I had missed the part about the earthquakes.  Yikes!  Wish you the best.  Keep us posted.

Same here Trevor. The info on that link is pretty stunning. Stay safe.

I think I mentioned to you before my grandfather emigrated to the states from the Marlborough area in the early 1900s. To my knowledge still a solely unique  surname here in the US.

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Aug 16, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 16, 2013

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It's been quite a day as it happens. They kept coming one after the other, and a lot of them were pretty strong.  (Just had a decent shake as I typed that)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9051982/Earthquakes-rock-central-New-Zealand

We had our Camera Club annual dinner this evening, and the shakes were coming ever fifteen minutes or so.  At least we were able to hold the event.  The colleges had their big forum (like a ball) today.  The girls were spending a fortune on hair and makeup, and it was cancelled. 🙂   Roads and railway are closed.  Buildings down, and roads cracked.  Nothing really serious like Christchurch, but we are a long way from it being over.  The worst thing would be for them to stop completely, because the stresses build up and you'd get a 7 or 8, and that would bring down a lot of buildings and kill some people.  Lots os small quakes are good, or less bad at least.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/photos/9051995/Earthquake-August-16

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9052447/Another-major-quake-possible

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Aug 16, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 16, 2013

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Living in an earthquake belt also, Trevor, I would agree that I'd rather have a lot of small quakes that one big one!

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Aug 16, 2013 0
RSLloyd LATEST
New Here ,
Sep 03, 2020

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I have the same problem.  I can't seem to get the writing to darken enough to be legible.  It is a census I received from my mom.  I think this is as good quality as she could get image.png

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Sep 03, 2020 0