Bonus July 10th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 2019, a bonus “This Date in Seal Beach History” update was posted.

We’re more than halfway through 2019 with 191 dates covered with at least one post. This year, I’ve written 46 new posts to fill in blank dates or to supplement a date where the original post was, well, duller than I would like. I’ve also been adding new photos and research to old posts for a little extra value to the reruns.

Currently the blog is rerunning previously written posts until mid-September, and I still have 27 new posts to research and write to cover blank dates in September, October, and November. When I finish writing those, I will be done with this project except for adding new material to rerun posts and writing a single February 29 post in 2020 for the leap year.

There’s still enough material and Seal Beach history to do at least one more year of dates, but I won’t be coming back to Seal Beach history for at least two years, and I’m not sure I’ll do it the same format. I’ll see how I feel about it in 2021 if I’m still around.

In the meantime, we have 174 Seal Beach history posts to enjoy between today and New Years. If you’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done so far, please consider making a contribution towards my research and image processing costs at my Paypal account here.

For the rest of July, I’ll be researching and writing 11 new September posts, including the long-promised post on the day Seal Beach kicked Billy Jack out of town.

There’s also been a lot of interest lately about Seal Beach’s role in the Apollo program due to the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20. You can find posts about Apollo here.

Two months after the moon landing, Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins visited the Rockwell (now Boeing) Facilities in Seal Beach. The visit was covered in this post for September 26, 1969.

About fifteen years ago, I won an auction for 67 slides of the Armstrong and Collins visit from the estate sale of the unnamed photographer. Some of the slides from the auction can be seen in the September 26 post. Those slides had been in storage for decades, and the scans I did picked up every scratch, dust speck, and bit of dirt that had accumulated on the slides over those decades. Also the images had faded some, making the final scanned images less than ideal.

So, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Armstrong and Collins visit, I’ve started to slowly do some image restoration on the 67 scans in Adobe Photoshop. Here are a couple examples from the past week:

This is the original scan with hair, scratches, and specks of dust and dirt. It was overcast when these photos were taken, but the image is darker than necessary. (Click on the images for a larger view.)

Now all the scratches and specks have been removed from the image. This was done by magnifying the image from 150% to 400% in Photoshop and going over each inch using imaging tools that replace the damage with colors and textures immediately adjacent to the damage. Care must be taken to not to destroy or distort the actual image while restoring it.

With some adjustments in Photoshop’s exposure tool, the audience in the foreground is a little more visible and distinct. It was an overcast day, and care must be taken to preserve the reality of the day when making adjustments.

Some minor adjustments to the colors to bring out a little more vibrancy and this image is restored.

All of this image editing was done without making any permanent changes to the original scanned file. It remains available for comparison purposes and for future restorations with improved tools (and perhaps better skilled restorers using those improved tools.)

This next image presents some different restoration challenges.

This image also has hair, dust, dirt, and damage, but it’s little hard to see the damage because most of the image is obscured by the darkness in the foreground.

Visible damage has been repaired, but the image remains too dark. You can barely see Neil Armstrong in the center greeting the audience.

After some fiddling with the exposure tool,  you can now see details and colors that were missing from Neil Armstrong, the crowd, and the ground itself. More damage became visible after this adjustment, and those specks and scratches were also repaired.

This may be a matter of taste, but I didn’t feel comfortable that the exposure tool made the Rockwell buildings hazy and misty in the background. It’s a nice artistic effect for movie cinematography, but I didn’t want to lose the historic truth that this was an overcast day. So I masked the crowd in the foreground and made it a distinct layer preserving the the exposure adjustments that I had made.

The edge of the crowd was then feathered slightly so there wouldn’t be as a hard edge when the layer was placed atop a background layer.

The buildings in the background are brought back in their own distinct layer behind the crowd’s layer. The background layer’s exposure is not adjusted, so the overcast light still has an impact on the image of the buildings, making them darker and more solid.

The colors get adjusted slightly for more vibrancy, and the restoration on this image is complete. (Although the boy’s cheeks in lower left corner might be rosier than they actually were in 1969, I’m not going to fiddle with it).

And there you have it — a little glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for a post on this blog. You’ll be able to see the rest of the restored photos on September 26.

– Michael Dobkins

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2 Responses to Bonus July 10th in Seal Beach History

  1. onyxnoir says:

    My grandmother was there that day as a Rockwell employee. She always used to tell me how she got to shake Neil Armstrong’s hand. Wonder if I’ll spot her in any of the photos?


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