21st February 2011
The transparencies arrived this morning. I’m so excited. I can’t believe it. There is about 10 or so of them including Jo’s favourite car on cliff top in Ireland! Each postcard has two or three transparencies and a b&w negative (5x4) for each image. Some are the 'original', meaning the one they used to print from i.e. the one that hand coloured. However it seems that the originals of some of the others are missing. MA
A first look at the transparencies
11th March 2011
First transparency scanned on the Flextight at Plymouth College of Art, 400mb - its filthy but fantastic. I have done the London policeman as a test, I only have the room booked for an hour as I am teaching and only have time to scan one.
In the scanning room
Its scratced but mendable! Someone way back in the John Hinde organization, or one of the printers, must have hands made of sandpaper! When you put the 400mb version up to 100% it is a criss-cross maze of scratches, worse than I first thought, I suspect it could be repaired but it would be an incredible labour of love and would take days (perhaps weeks) not hours - we might have to print one as is and see how we feel about it. Who knows what the others are like... they might be worse. On the plus side WOW! MD
Detail of the scratches in the sky and on St. Paul's
14th March 2011
From the Scanning room
Have now scanned about 6 of them - not spending too long looking at the final images just trying to get them all done this afternoon. I have also done a little test print of the London policeman at different sizes which is v interesting... slightly better than I thought, but still scratched to hell!
I think we might need to do a little work to get rid of some crucial marks, and you are absolutely right about the sky/blank areas looking the worst but I would buy one! MD
15th March 2011
They are all scanned and they are all as badly scratched as the policeman, infact some slightly worse, the best is probably the beach with the cars. MD
16th March 2011
Am working on J30 as I think it might be the easiest to do and would give us a bit of a boost if we could finish one and get a test print made. It looks great but there are some pink patches in the sky and on the beach which are patches of chemical deterioration I think - they are relatively easy to get rid of when they are just in the sky,but when they go across a whole range of tones it is much more difficult. There was another transparency of motor-bikes racing on the beach but you have got to love these cars. MD
17th March 2011
The London policeman had very little work and although it looks great, the trial prints have confirmed to me that we need to clean them up. It is a bit arduous but you only have to do it once. I did about a third of the sky on the London policeman on the train back from Plymouth (40 minutes) to give you an idea of time. MD
I have been badly struggling with the policeman, seems like skies and sand are a whole lot easier to deal with than St. Pauls Cathedral, a couple of weeks per image might be closer to the mark, still we only have to do it once... MD
23rd March 2011
I have just very successfully tweaked the colours on the Shaldon card, really quite happy with it now, and I patch tooled out the pink bit in the sky too. It is way less scratched than the policeman, could have this one done quite quckly... maybe just a week! MD
23rd March 2011
It's difficult to tell from the above images but this was the only transparency that we received out of eleven that wasn't used for the postcard. We can only assume that the actual transparency is lost. The transparency of the car in the Irish landscape (see below) is also different from the postcard, however, at least that was the 'original' photograph but it was somehow coloured before printing. The transparency of Piccadilly that we have was taken about 5 minutes before the postcard image; it doesn't have the car lights and there is only one bus.
I think I’ve given myself a headache working on Piccadilly. And of course it was considerably worse than I first thought! And the cursor, cloning and healing tool is mostly the same colour as the sky so is invisible! I’ll have to find out how to change the colour of it I think and make it day-glo pink. MA
25th March 2011
Opf – been spending time trying not to retouch out the electric cables around the lights on Piccadilly. Went down to 3 pixels around the lights! Have you looked at the image close up? It’s fantastic. You know it looks empty and peaceful – there are actually loads of people in the background – they are just ghosts of people because of the slow shutter speed. And the newspaper headlines – it’s like London was a village ‘bandleader in death crash’. Hardly world news! MA
30th March 2011
I am thinking of doing a second Piccadilly but a little darker, just to compare and also so that we can have one each because it is sensational. I think it might have been taken on March 29th 1969, I am basing this guess on that being the date that Billy Cotton the legendary Bandleader died, and although I would have probably guessed a few years earlier it is about right. MD
1st April 2011
I just looked up Billy Cotton and he didn't die in 'death crash' according to Wikipaedia. He died whilst watching a boxing match. So that led me to thinking who it might have been. I wonder if 23 January 1959 is too early. Could it be referring to Buddy Holly? MA
2nd April 2011
Could have been Eddie Cochran, he died in England in 1960. MD
12th April 2011
I have been working on the funfair in Battersea Park. I love that all the chaps are wearing suits. No enormous difficulties with this except the huge amount of scratches and quite a lot of what looks like green ink smudges. Like all of the ones above, the colours aren't as vibrant as the postcard. The printers were clearly instructed to increase the saturation before printing. However, I'm not sure that that alone would create the green of the trees in the background. None of this really matters as these photos in their own right, i.e. without any colour manipulation, are extraordinary.
Except for the colour saturation, this is one of a few that we are currently working on that the original transparency hasn't been 'retouched', i.e. all the jumpers and coats are the same colour. Likewise Piccadilly, above.
The fair was opened as part of the Festival Pleasure Gardens, part of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and remained opened until 1972. Many Londoners are totally unaware that this fair existed. MA
19th April 2011
Have finally removed all the scratches from DC252 it has taken me nearly two weeks off and on, by far the most difficult I have done so far. What I am really enjoying though is the investigative nature of the work; because the images were made on 5 x 4 cameras the detail is astonishing and you can start to see things that just aren't possible to view in the postcard. I like this little detail of the train coming around the corner, with the washing on the line and the inscription on the bridge. When you are immersed in the image for two weeks, it makes the image more real and reminds you that the photograph is a fragment of time, stopped by the action of the shutter. MD
20th April 2011
Have decided to get straight on with the next one which is Crooklets beach in Cornwall, from a scratches point of view it is way easier than The Tamar Bridge but there maybe other issues, the biggest of which is that I think the sky is a completely different sky - the actual photograph looks like it was taken on a slightly sea-misty type of day, but the postcard is glorious sunshine, still it is fantastic, and the detail makes it all worthwhile, check out those swimming trunks! MD
DC 82 Detail
3rd May 2011
Nearly finished the Lido at Battersea Park. It has been quite a challenge. Cleaning skin is quite hard. Tthe detail below, right made me very nostalgic. It could have been me with my mum, but she wasn't very keen on public outdoor baths, so we never went. The colours in the detail are beautiful and that crops up quite a lot. Whilst you are cleaning some scratches or pen marks suddenly you notice the small area that you are working on and realise the composition in that tiny area is fantastic - possibly acciental on the photographers part, but not always. Now that's what I call a pram (below, left)! MA
12th May 2011
Have finished J33 in double quick time - 3 days!
There are some really nice details
I want one of those cars MD
15th May 2011
Deep Sea Fishing off the Irish Coast is at last finished. Not really because it took forever, perhaps 15 hours, I haven't really counted, but mainly due to being busy with other stuff. And sadly right at the end I noticed these annoying pink marks which are cropping up on a lot of the transparencies, which look like chemical issues. It might mean that they are appearing slowly over time which means we may have got to these transparencies in the nick of time. But in this image they are in the sea where retouching over large areas is tricky. This might be the first one that won't be good enough for high quality printing! The jpeg above, right almost looks black and white - it is much more monotone than the high qulaity tiff.
Right ready for the next batch now! MA