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This is an important project for me and I would be so grateful for any pointers on hoe I can get the text especially on the bottom left to be more visible.

It is a German-language map of Haifa, Israel, dated 1900.

enter image description here

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  • It's simply not legible. You can adjust to increase the contrast between what looks like type and the underlying tone, but most of the type itself is so destroyed it'll never be actually legible.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 18:30
  • If it were me.. I'd redraw it entirely using what you have as a basis for manual tracing.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 18:48
  • It's very likely possible to enhanced that physical map somehow, but not with that image you've posted here. It's in too low resolution and has too many artifacts because of JPEG compression. Is the original file you have better than the one posted here? If it is please post a smaller cropped PNG at 1:1 showing the text in the bottom left. If not start by trying to get hold of a better quality image.
    – Wolff
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 20:44
  • The image is too low resolution, and has jpeg artifacts. Much of the text it is just not legible. Perhaps with a better scan something would be possible.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 1:05
  • Hi to everyone who answered! I couldn’t find an option to answer individually. This is a tough project this is the only archival photograph and the conditions it was taken in were pretty terrible, along with poor quality paper and light pencil probably. I did the best I could on Photoshop desaturating + contrast + levels and the text is marginally more readable. But honestly it was great to hear from experts that there is literally no magic to work on such a poor quality photo.
    – user172875
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 21:38

2 Answers 2

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Start by getting a proper photo. This one looks like it's shot in low light with a phone camera. It's full of noise reduction artifacts, just typical in cameras which use heavy software filtering to hide the fact that the camera has poor quality sensor and lens. The image is "cleverly" blurred to make it look smooth in low contrast areas, only details with high enough contrast and large enough area have avoided the blurring.

In addition there's much data compression noise, typical in attempts to have small jpg file size.

The letters in small prints contain too few pixels to be readable. Make some test shots in good light to find how big text chunk can be put to non-cropped full size image so that the letters still look as sharp as they were printed even when zoomed in to 400% size. Nothing less is enough if there's some faded letters which need adjustments and guessing.

Summary: What's left in your photo contains so little information of the map that the job is hopeless. Much more would be recoverable if the image was shot in acceptably bright uniformly projected white light by a person who knows what he does and has a big sensor (24 x 36 mm or at least half of it) camera which shoots RAWs. A tripod + long exposure time can compensate to some degree the missing bright light. Closing down all in-camera image processing and shooting RAWs is another as important tool.

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  • Hi!! Thank you!! This is the only available image of the map in our archives. We have no access to the original. There is nothing else I can think of but what has been suggested here. I spent several hours on Photoshop and did minute selective color editing, contrast levels desaturation, and got something maybe 20% more readable for the german-spearker who will be translating the text. Thank you for your analysis and help!!
    – user172875
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 21:36
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With a high resolution photo taken, I guess you can easily play with these steps in Photoshop:

  • desaturate the entire image (make it all black and white)
  • try the levels or curves tools and increase contrast to the extreme, blow out the whites, darken the blacks, etc
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  • Thank you!! I tried that it was marginally better…this is the only copy that exists of this map, so not much else is possible thatnk you do much!!!
    – user172875
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 21:33

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