The Library of Congress Print and Photograph Online Catalog is a tremendous free resource with over a million images online.
I’ve spent the last couple of years wandering through this archive and have downloaded many files covering the things that interest me. The files are very good quality scans but are just raw scans. I’ve imported the photographs into Lightroom and done some basic processing – primarily cropping, straightening and sharpening. I’ve also made some global tonal adjustments where I thought the negative looked a bit flat, which isn’t unusual for black and white negatives.
Some of the older glass plate negatives are quite badly scratched or damaged, and all have dust on them, so on many of these, I’ve tidied them up in Photoshop with the spot healing brush.
The newer colour negatives for the most part just required cropping and sharpening, but some of the night photographs were very dark and so I have adjusted these to how I thought the photographer intended them to look. Some also had some unusual colour casts which I’ve attempted to correct.
Finally, a number of images have been stitched into panoramas. The original photographers sometimes took a number of images that must have been joined up in the darkroom – a task that is infinitely easier in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Even so, stitching multiple very high res files challenged the processor of my computer and sometimes required a couple of attempts to get right as well as some editing afterwards. The results are hugely impressive and the detail in the scenes is stunning. Maybe one day I’ll get some giant prints done, not sure what I’d did with them as they’d be too big to frame!
Please note that I have no affiliation with the Library of Congress – this is just a personal project of mine. I have linked to the original source on the Library of Congress website and listed the original photographer or publisher. The watermark does not denote copyright – in an age of sharing and tweeting and suchlike, it is just there to direct people to this blog and to the Library of Congress itself. If you’re unhappy with there being a watermark on, don’t bother voicing your opinion in the comments as you might be surprised at how little I care.