Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Times They Are A' Fading

As I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am searching my old negatives to see if I have any pictures of Brighouse Gas Works. I have been approached by someone who is creating a computerised model of Brighouse Canal Basin in the 1920s, and the old gasworks is the missing piece of the jig-saw.

Today I found some negatives of photos I took in Brighouse in the early 1960s and there is one which catches the gasometer, if not the gasworks themselves. But what struck me more than anything, was the poor state of my negatives after 40 years. They are fading and degenerating into mushy obscurity, which is sad. My resolution to press on with the task of digitising them has run up against a problem : my old negative scanner has died the death. It is possible to scan negatives using an ordinary scanner but it is difficult to achieve the quality you need if you are attempting to get a decent-sized positive out of the process.

Even with a bit of re-touching the results still look like something out of an old history book. This is a frightening discovery as they were taken by me, not by some nineteenth century photographer. The above photograph comes from this Brighouse series and is of the Anchor Inn. Whilst the building still exists and is still a pub (or at least it still was last week but things are a bit fluid in the pub business) it has now changed its name to the Bridge. Back in the 60s, the Anchor was a famous jazz venue where I heard some of my first live jazz. Both the venue and the man who made it famous - Rod Marshall - are covered at length in the JazzCat Blog operated by my friend Ben Crosland.

Looking at this scratched and faded old photograph I realise that it is me and my negatives which are getting old. For the negatives, I intend to go out in search of a new negative scanner so I can return them to their former glory. But for me ...... there is little hope.

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