Monday, December 21, 2015

Reading Dreams That Have Already Run Their Course


My hand is slowly recovering from the surgery of a fortnight ago, although it is still quite difficult to achieve the careful manipulation which is required for such tasks as typing, writing Christmas cards, driving and washing up! Whilst this means that I have to be driven to all those endless Christmas get-togethers and visits to the pub (at which, I am happy to report, determined physiotherapy has already resulted in my ability to lift a pint glass), it also means that my end-of-year blogging has been, at best sparse, and at worst as fecund as the generosity of spirit of a Daily Mail editorial. For this I apologise and promise to improve my productivity (and my similes) in the New Year.

As always, breaks in routine provide opportunities for allowing my imagination to wander down slightly different byways; and I have become a little obsessed by a small batch of old medium format negatives I recently bought on eBay. I have no idea who they belonged to or where they came from, now have I any clues as to the identity of the subjects: but in restoring some of these old photographs such ignorance can be a kind of bliss.  My guess as to the period most of the negatives were shot is the immediate post-war years, and they were obviously taken by someone who had a significant degree of photographic skills (anyone who went to the trouble of keeping their negatives is likely to have been a keen photographer).


One of the great joys of working with old negatives is that you can bring to them all the digital tools of the Photoshop age, tools that would have been beyond the imagination of the amateur photographer of fifty or seventy-five years ago. As an old negative appears on the scanning screen after probably half a century of dark slumber, you almost feel as if you are bringing something back to life, waking an image up from a lengthy hibernation. You look into faces that have been unlooked at for generations and read dreams that have already run their course. There is something rather magical about it : especially when you are sat at home with a bandaged hand and only a limited supply of real ale for company.

So I would like to leave you with a final image, one which seems to sum up everything I love about old photographs. And with it I would like to wish each and every one of you a most enjoyable Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year. 


16 comments:

  1. A story in each of these photos. The first is kind of a scary one.

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  2. The same to you and yours Alan. Glad to hear that the hand is recovering.

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  3. Merry Christmas, Happy Brianmas and trusting you have an enjoyable New Year.

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    1. Phil, Thanks so much for the Christmas card - many apologies for not returning the greetings by post but the handwriting really is still very shaky. Have a great Christmas down in Old Sodbury.

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  4. Happy to know you're recovering. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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  5. Merry Christmas, Alan! Glad to hear your hand is getting better, however slowly. Take it easy, don't push it, and we'll all still be here when you're ready to get back to normal.

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  6. I am so not savvy when it comes to techno stuff. I had no idea you could, with the right application, recreate photographs from old negatives, and so clear! These are wonderful. The first looks like it could be a still from a Hitchcock movie ... intriguing. I love the coats women wore in that era and the curtain on the window in the last. Great images.

    You do know how to maximize your time despite the recent surgery. Wishing you a speedy recovery, a happy happy Christmas and a new year filled with fun projects.

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  7. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  8. That first picture is a bit creepy. Where are they? It almost seems an accidental shot. The other two are pure nostalgia. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you.

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  9. Love the photos. How odd that someone should be selling the negatives. The guy in the hat is definitely auditioning for Hitchcock - so carefully lit and all - so why is the little boy falling out of the shot? So many questions.

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  10. Your comments about awakening an old photograph from slumber are perfect. I too had no idea you could recreate photos from the negatives.!That means I should immediately cease throwing them out, as I have been doing. I'm happy to read you can lift a pint during the holiday season. Merry Christmas.

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  11. Thanks, Alan, for restoring the good cheer of these three lovely moments. I wish you and yours all the very best for the season and new year.

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  12. Merry Christmas Alan! I am glad to hear you are recovering from the surgery! I enjoyed your old photos:)

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  13. Bloody Fine Photographs Alan (as usual) Glad Your Mending,Son .Very Best Wishes .T.

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  14. Beautiful photos that you brought to life. Someone might be inspired to write a novel when seeing the photo of the four ladies.

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  15. Wonderful photos, especially that last one. I think you'd better give us all a lesson in scanning negatives. I've just found a lot in a box that I'd like to recreate. Glad to hear the hand is improving and how fortunate that 'lifting a pint' was the first physio lesson.

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