November 26, 2009 § 4 Comments

The instruments of a framectomy. Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

One of the first days in my new job, I found myself using the scalpel and artery forceps to free some old photos from their pathologic frames.

I was contacted by an old professor who wanted digital versions of some old photos from the start of his career. This can be done by scanning, or by photographing the photos – what we call repro or copy photography.

Well, these 50s and 60s photos were all quality framed, with small diamond-shaped pins nailed into the wooden frame to keep the plate and photo in place. To create a nice finish the pins were covered with tape.

To get the best possible reproductions of the photos, I had to remove them from the frame, which meant I had to apply some delicate surgical skills.

I first made a vertical incision in the tape using a scalpel blade, starting lateral to the frame hanger. This was done all along the circumference of the structure. Using forceps, the incision was then slightly widened to expose the pins. Four pins were found at the cranial and caudal edges, with three along both sides.

Pin excision. Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

The plate was mobilized by carefully but firmly excising the pins from the wooden skeleton. Some pins came harder than others, and on a few occasions the forceps slipped. This did however not damage any vital structures. After removing eleven pins, the plate came loose. I did however choose to press on and remove the last three to ensure the radicality of the operation.

The plate, frame and glass were removed, exposing the healthy photo trapped within. It was with a sigh of relief and great satisfaction I could place the unharmed specimen on the repro table, turn on the strobes and release the shutter.

Repro table with strobes and camera. Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

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