Uncovering A Colourful Past

A little while back Chartwell House—a National Trust property in Surrey and the former home of Winston Churchill—got in touch about digitising some slides that had been given to them.

Slides are one of those things that I feel really benefit from digitisation, particularly given that they’re too small to appreciate in their native format and slide projectors aren’t as common as they once were. Another potential benefit, which I hadn’t explicitly considered until this piece of work, is restoration.

A handful of the slides were entirely in shades of orange and brown—faded by time whilst in the possession of the original photographer. Though it’s hard to tell with the depth of focus, the orange slide in the picture above is held up against the very verdant view it depicts.

When I sat down to digitise the slides, however, I realised that the software I was using enabled me to run basic colour restoration very quickly to great effect. Here’s an example with the current, faded colour on the left and the quick restoration on the right:


It’s by no means perfect and it doesn’t always work but it was immensely satisfying to bring a little colour back to some of the faded examples with only a little effort.

Perhaps this will inspire some of you to digitise your own slide collections; it’s certainly prompted me to tackle my family’s collection. I’m unable to include any full before-and-after images from Chartwell due to copyright, so here are a few from my collection to highlight the difference.

— Sarah

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