Hamilton Color Lab

The Professional's Choice for digitial imaging

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A New Relationship with the JJ Audubon Museum

During the summer of 2013, the John James Audubon museum in Henderson, Kentucky invited the owner of Hamilton Color Lab, Dave Hamilton, to the museum to digitally capture and reproduce all the original works of JJ Audubon. This is just the start of  what is anticipated as a long and endearing partnership. JJ Audubon is most know for his Birds of America Series consisting of 435 life size prints of over 700 North American birds, (the Red Shouldered Hawk below is part of the series) however there are several pieces of art in his personal collection which have never been reproduced or printed.

Audubon Red Shouldered Hawk

JJ Audubon: Red Shouldered Hawk

While there have been various fine art reproductions of the Double Elephant Folio series the museum always thought improvements could still be made to not only return the art to original luster and vibrancy, but make prints available for sale to the public at an affordable price. Although Dave has quite a reputation in the art reproduction industry for doing phenomenal work, it is not where this story began.

Our story into the world of JJ Audubon begins with a customer, fellow photographer, and good friend, Tom Wandel.  In the fall of 2012, Tom Wandell traveled the Eastern United States on a photography tour. His mission, through his Indelible Images organization, is to assist wildlife and other conservation organizations with professional photographs and images for use in their educational and outreach efforts.

After meeting with the curator and staff Tom was inspired and proposed an art reproduction and restoration project of not only the DE Bird Folio but various other Audubon art. Tom and the curator envisioned a partnership between the Audubon Museum in Henderson Kentucky and Hamilton Color Lab where Dave Hamilton would digitally capture and restore the art and  both the museum and and Hamilton Color Lab could sell the prints, branded and authenticated with the JJ Audubon Museum Fine Art Collection seal.

The first step has been completed, with two full days of photography at the museum capturing over 800 pieces of art, some the public has rarely seen, except in the Audubon family museum. Next came step two, selecting a few pieces from the Folio series to restore, print and send to the museum for approval and the go ahead to proceed with the remainder of the art.

Prints were packaged and shipped UPS to Henderson Kentucky and the next week Tom and Dave contacted Allen on the phone. Allen said when he opened the box and removed the parrot and hawk prints the first words out of his mouth were “These are drop dead gorgeous!”


Now the real time consuming work begins, starting on the first book of the DE Folio. Eventually there will be four leather bound limited edition books, just like the original series and individual limited edition prints in the original size and one size smaller, printed on cotton rag archival paper using a Giclee printing process. Details have yet to be worked out regarding price, number of editions, and sizes. We are still in the beginning phases of this project.

We are compiling a mailing list for those interested in purchasing any prints and invite you to complete the form below. Mailing address is not mandatory, but if you include it we will mail you notifications on the progress of the JJ Audubon Museum Fine Art Series.


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Restoring a Family Legacy

One of the most rewarding aspects we enjoy at Hamilton Color Lab is restoring family photographs that have a family legacy. Although photos come in on a regular basis with precious memories attached, some are more special than others.

World War I reproduction of USS Virginia

Earlier this month Deborah brought in old photos of her father and the picture of the battleship he served on, the USS Virginia from during 1918. The photo was in the original frame, stuck to the broken glass, and badly faded and discolored. She wanted to see if we could some how preserve the image before it faded away to just a memory.

This was only part of the story. Along with the photo of the carrier was two portraits of her father who served on ship and a small Bible he carried with him during World War I and World War II. Both Fred and the Bible survived Berlin and action in France.

Upon discharge, Fred Chandler Turner he gave the Bible to his son who carried it in World War II  His grandson later carried it with him during service El Salvador.

Deborah wanted to know if  we could also scan the portraits and the pages of the Bible and put together a collage so it could all be framed in a shadow box? By this time I had goosebumps at the story and so did Dave Hamilton, the owner. Considering the condition of the print, with the glass will attached,  returning the photo back to its original condition would not be easy. But we wanted to try.

The challenging part was to create a digital capture of the USS Virginia and compensate for the glare of the glass on one side and the photo on the other and keep the same tone across the whole image. With our controlled studio lighting, some Photoshop magic, and some killer graphic design skill we were able to accomplish the hardest part.

Family HIstorical Bible from WWI

The portraits and pages from the Bible we scanned on our Eversmart Scitex Pro Scanner, that was the easy part. We were able to pick up the subtle detail in portraits and the texture in the cover of the Bible. The result was a reproduction so close to the original it brought tears to her eyes.

That is when we go home at night feeling a great amount of job satisfaction, knowing we have had an impact on the lives of others and preserved a piece of history for future generations. Thank you Debbie for trusting us with such a treasure, it has been an honor.

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To bring your old photos back to life, or create better than original scanned prints from your vintage prints, negatives, or slides bring them to our location at 120th & I Street in Omaha, NE.