Colour repair in Photoshop and Lightroom

I was working on a media and image digitization project this spring and early summer. Some of the slides from 1960 had horrible color shifts. Here are two examples that I helped along in Photoshop and Lightroom. I did not take detailed notes on these but thought that they might provide an indication of what is possible without too much work. Obviously, other defects could have been reduced, like fingerprints, but there was an inadequate budget for this type of cleaning. Clicking on either image will bring up a larger version. I made the scans of the original slides on my Nikon Coolscan 5000ED.

“All your files are just where you left them” EXCEPT the ones in AppData (Win 10 rebuild)

I had a bit of an issue with a Win10 upgrade from Win7 for my wife’s laptop. Nothing short of a full reload of Win10 would stop FileExplorer from resetting and restarting every few seconds. This did not allow me to use Control Panel, either. Settings worked.

So, it told me that it removed Thunderbird and Firefox.

It ALSO removed all the AppData files (like all of her email).

Read more“All your files are just where you left them” EXCEPT the ones in AppData (Win 10 rebuild)

Taming Windows 10 File Explorer

Here, now you can have the benefit of a day’s research and tweaking.

Windows 10 File Explorer provides vast quantities of information that can, at times, be overwhelming.

My goal here was to simplify the interface and provide only what I needed. There was lots of good help on the Web and many options. This is what I decided to do, at least for my five machines. Fortunately, much of this is the same from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, so there is lots of documentation out there, but it’s not all in one place. Here’s my attempt. I WILL BE USING REGISTRY MODIFICATIONS. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE DOING THIS, THEN DO NOT DO IT. Make a backup. There are other ways of making things work if you wish to take a different approach, but I will leave that exercise to you. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. I cannot help you if things go awry. I have tested this on two desktops.

Read moreTaming Windows 10 File Explorer

Windows 10 upgrade–a bunch of thoughts and experiences

Here is a rambling discussion of my experiences and thoughts on the Windows 10 upgrade experience. I am now happy that I’ve done it. I’m still learning about it, but work is progressing with few (if any) glitches. Cutting to the chase: a worthwhile upgrade at the right price with few downsides.

Read moreWindows 10 upgrade–a bunch of thoughts and experiences

Restoring something approaching natural colour to a 50-year-old photograph

My wife has been putting together a slide show for the Aurora Historical Society and I’ve been helping with some of the photo cleanup. She did the difficult part of culling a couple of hundred images out of 10,000 that are sort-of organized by different people over many years. We came across this gem.
Maher Shoe Store after the fire

Read moreRestoring something approaching natural colour to a 50-year-old photograph

Brief report on how the new camera outfit worked after three weeks of photographing on Maui

Thanks to all who read my previous post on rationalizing my camera system. It worked like a charm. The 70-200 f/4 and TC20Eiii converter make an excellent telephoto that focuses quickly (with the range limter, especially) and the 16-85 is a step up from the 18-200. The whole trip was a good time for Mary Beth and me to relax and I had a fantastic time with the photography. For more details and some fairly high resolution images, continue reading. _RLH1216-3

Read moreBrief report on how the new camera outfit worked after three weeks of photographing on Maui

A New Year’s view of at-risk audio formats

There are many factors that affect the ability of people like us to digitize tapes for you, our clients.

One of the most difficult issues to balance is the physical space that different formats take up, the ongoing maintenance of these formats, and, to be brutally honest, their return on investment.

What we discovered is that some of the machines we were archiving for future use would not work when they were brought out of storage. Rubber parts, capacitors, and lubrication are probably the most prevalent causes of failure. We have said to clients more than once (with a wry smile), “Yes we can probably restore your tape, but first we need to restore a machine.”

Manufacturer and maintenance depot support for various formats is waning or fully discontinued. Parts are hard to come by, and good machinists with an interest in doing this are either non-existent or very expensive.

Read moreA New Year’s view of at-risk audio formats

Rationalizing camera equipment — what do you need?

I have used 35 mm single lens reflex camera systems since about 1965 when I started out with a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic, and a 50 mm f/1.4 lens. In 1966, I added to that a Spiratone 35 mm f/2.8? wide angle lens and a Sun Zoom 70-210 mm f/4.8? telephoto. Later I added a 400 mm f/6.3 preset lens.

In 1977 I moved to Canon F-1’s and ended up with a nice system of Canon prime lenses 17 mm f/4, 28 mm f/2.8, 50 mm f/3.5 macro, 85 mm f/1.8, 135 mm f/2.8, and 200 mm f/4 and three F-1 bodies. Late in the life of that system I added a Tamron 500 mm f/8 mirror lens which was not what I had hoped it might be.

After a brief flirtation with Canon EOS, I moved to Nikon in 1990 and have been shooting Nikon ever since. I had more lenses and bodies than I ended up knowing what to do with, going from 20 mm to 500 mm f/4. Over time, I owned six Nikon film bodies, five DSLR bodies (so far), 11 prime lenses (all but one a Nikkor), 9 Nikkor zoom lenses, and 5 Nikkor teleconverters! In 2003, I bought my first D100 digital SLR and have had two of those, a D200, and now shoot with two D7100 bodies.

Thinking back on this, I spent 12 years with the Pentax/Spiratone system, 12 years with the Canon FD system, and I’ve been with Nikon for 24 years.

I was somewhat happy with the 18-200 mm lens on the D200, but it didn’t make me happy on the D7100. I suspect that the 18-200 was perhaps the limiting factor for resolution on the D200, at least at some focal lengths! (click the image for a larger view)

12-400 mm histogram

Read moreRationalizing camera equipment — what do you need?

Cyber Tweaking

There were a few functions that were not operating as well as I had hoped in the home network now that we have DSL and Cable again and two VOIP telephone lines, one configured per incoming service.

Since we have double NAT which is generally a bad thing, I needed a work around to fix NTP time updates that had broken. This did the trick on the main router (downstream of the modem/routers). Note that I’ve added this to the Connection Hub (DSL Modem/Router) as well.


And while on the subject of router tricks, this port forwarding scheme was suggested by TekSavvy to keep the VOIP Adapter working well on a SageMCom wired port.


Voltage and power matched audio in 2014

I received an email requesting clarification on my 1980 AES Preprint about the use of voltage audio distribution vs. power matched audio distribution for analog audio signals.

The confusion seemed to be about equipment being rated for driving a 600 ohm load. Yes, most professional audio equipment will drive a 600 ohm load, but might (repeat might) lose a small amount of headroom doing so. The better reason to be able to drive a 600 ohm load is to drive long cables which might create slew-rate limiting if they load the output to the extent that they slow it down. It’s all about current. In fact, merely being able to drive a 600 ohm load may not provide enough current to drive very long cables.

Read moreVoltage and power matched audio in 2014

Protecting the container: Heritage Building Fire Safety

While this post does not specifically pertain to audio tape restoration, it does pertain to keeping originals and copies safe, especially in heritage buildings.

This article is prompted by a devastating fire in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, where I have lived for the last 10 years and also from 1981-1983. On Friday, April 11th, there was some roofing work being done on the 135-year-old Aurora United Church. Roofers were using hot tar and allegedly some sort of open flame. Humidity is not high in the winter and we had a cold one. The church roof structure (and much of the ceiling structure of the nave) was wood. Hot tar, flame, low humidity, wind, and very dry old wood do not mix well, and the results, sadly, were predictable. The church is now a ruin. The fire department spent 4-5 hours with up to maybe 7-8 master streams running into the attic and other parts of the structure.


Read moreProtecting the container: Heritage Building Fire Safety

Power options for field recording

I had the first failure to capture an entire concert in my recording career. I had become complacent and considering that I had new (April 2012) Li-ion batteries for my Sound Devices 722 recorder, did not think twice about recording a concert on the approximately 50 Wh 6-cell packs. Well, one failed, and did so spectacularly without a warning. I did not notice the in-process warnings, because I do not wear my headphones during the whole concert. I try and take in the concert so that I can then see what’s missing in the studio. Here is what the after-the-fact results showed:


Read morePower options for field recording

The Digital Cliff and HDMI

I was at a church today where I struggled to get a video to play properly in advance of an event in a few days. There were issues with the application of a TRS phone plug (another story).

The church had a PC and two 60-inch diagonal video monitors plus a smaller monitor for the choir. There appeared to be a powered splitter/amplifier at the balcony console to split the HDMI to the two big monitors, with one cable running down each side of the church. I believe there must have been a second two-way splitter (hopefully another powered splitter/amplifier) to tap off the feed from the right main monitor for the choir monitor.

When I arrived, the PC was set up for 1024 x 768 display with the HDMI output mirroring the laptop built-in display. The laptop built-in display was capable of 1366 x 768. The slide show was a 16:9 WMV file. I tried expanding the display to the widescreen resolution and it was fine on the PC, but the monitors would not sync.

Read moreThe Digital Cliff and HDMI

The Phone Plug—Uses and Misuses

The ubiquitous phone plug, especially in the 1/4 inch (6.3 mm) size, is extremely confusing to the uninitiated. I was at a church today where I struggled to get a video to play properly in advance of an event in a few days.

The church had a PC and two 60-inch diagonal video monitors (another story). The audio was fed to the good-quality 16-input mixer (Allen and Heath, I think) from the PC’s headphone output.

In the video, there are two places where there is speech and the music is faded into the background. When played in the church, the voice disappeared! This created some angst coupled with erroneous assumptions. I hope this post will perhaps help solve this problem for others.

Read moreThe Phone Plug—Uses and Misuses

Source for D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane)

I have recently been looking to replenish my supply of D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane) and did not have much luck receiving replies to my email. Others have reported difficulty finding this in quantities smaller than a 55-gallon drum.

I found a promising listing for cyclopentasiloxane and when I queried the supplier, he indicated that the analysis was 97.5% decamethylcyclopentasiloxane and the balance being octomethylcyclopentasiloxane. I suspect that is more than good enough for tape work.

Read moreSource for D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane)

Playing a squealing reel of Sony PR-150 tape using D5 (Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane)

Today I worked on a batch of five Sony PR-150 7-inch reels recorded at 3.75 in/s in one direction, two-track mono. One of the five reels showed marked shedding during fast-wind/rewind (to get the original reel as takeup and to check the tape pack). Four of the five reels played fine. This one squealed horribly. I ran the tape up and back over the dispenser and then fixed it in position for running the tape over it during the playback session. Once again, D5, Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, CAS Number 541-02-6 comes to the rescue. The lovely thing about D5 is that it evaporates.

APR-5003 with D5 dispenser

Is this better than cold playback? I don’t honestly know. Both work. This is easier if there is no reel machine standing by for cold playback (which there was not today). I keep a Nakamichi MR-1 in the refrigerator so it is ready to go when I need it. The Studer A810 I put in the fridge did not like it. The capstan motor seized up AND the heat output overwhelmed the refrigerator’s capacity to cool. I suspect the APR would also overwhelm the refrigerator’s capacity. Also, it is much easier to lubricate a reel than a cassette.


Speed variation with unmatched reels

I received an interesting question from a European tape user with whom I frequently correspond:

“Is there any speed variation when playing a tape with different hubs on the supply reel and take-up reel?”

And I replied:

You raise an interesting question. The easiest answer to this is simple:
There is a risk of speed variations throughout the reel if the tape tension varies throughout the reel.
followed by the corollary:
This effect is made worse if the condition of the capstan / pinch-roller system is degraded.
Some capstan / pinch-roller / constant-torque systems handle this better than others.

Read moreSpeed variation with unmatched reels

Gap Length

This page provides a table of signal wavelengths for different speeds and frequencies. It is sometimes useful in understanding bandwidth limitations at the high end for a particular head. The first null occurs when the wavelength of the signal is about 112% of the optically measured length of the gap. A common place to set the gap length is for a 4 dB loss at the highest frequency of interest. This corresponds to the half wavelength indicated in the table below. See Mallinson, John C., The Foundations of Magnetic Recording, Academic Press, San Diego, 1993. pp 95–96.

Read moreGap Length

Agfa PEM-469 success

We had success transferring two reels of one-inch Agfa PEM-469 tape that was shedding and leaving a waxy clear-to-yellow exudate on everything. We were happy to get through these and recover the content. This is discussed in more detail towards the bottom of our Degrading Tapes page—hopefully the most up-to-date resource on the Web about problem tapes. Please let me know if you would like to help me add anything to the page. It is there for everyone struggling with old degrading tapes. If you haven’t looked already, please look at my paper on the subject.

Studer A80 RC modifications for 1/2-inch two track and other modifications

In a discussion on 2012-01-20 in the New Studer list, Todor Dimitrov posted the differences between the record and repro boards between a 1/4-inch and a 1/2-inch two-track A80RC repro cards. Here are the changed components for the 1/2-inch version. There are five different oscillator versions in the manual, including one for 1/2-inch.

RECORD: C34=68pF
REPRO: R1=100K; R21=330

Note that the mechanical modifications between 1/4 and 1/2-inch tape handling may be substantially more complex in terms of tuning the transport. I know of no definitive notes on this subject. [Added 2013-10-09]

CBC A80RC Repro capacitor mod

I had previously posted in the original (and now reconstituted) Studer List on 2008-04-24 that there were other extant and possible modifications. Here is a slightly edited and reformatted version of that post:

Read moreStuder A80 RC modifications for 1/2-inch two track and other modifications

Playing full-track mono tapes

About ten years ago, when I transferred the oldest tapes in the United States as part of the Mullin-Palmer collection, my good friend Don Ososke pressured me to use a full-track head for the project. I had started transferring these full-track tapes with a Woelke NAB stereo (two 80 mil (2 mm) tracks) head and recording both channels. When I obtained a Nortronics full-track head, the difference was night-and-day. The full-track reproduction sounded fuller, smoother, and quieter. There were no tracking problems to speak of that would cause azimuth wander large enough to create a “flanging” or “phasing” effect of in-and-out high-frequency loss.

Read morePlaying full-track mono tapes

Obsolete data formats

This is a reminder that data formats come and go just like audio and video formats. On this, the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination, this article was posted at the Library of Congress website. It talks about first locating and then converting research data held on IBM 80-column punch cards. I remember working with those my first summer job back in 1967! I guess I have a penchant for obsolete formats, as I learned a good deal about IBM’s unit record equipment, including the amazing 407 (introduced in 1949). That certainly was not as useful as knowing about analog tape now.

The punch cards were found and converted. This is a much happier fate than that suffered by the original IRIG 14-track 1-inch tapes of the Apollo Moon Walk from 1969! In 2011, I digitized 14-track 1-inch seismic tapes surrounding the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980, and am working on another confidential project in 2018.

Read moreObsolete data formats