Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Riding A Bike On The Soft Sands Of Cleethorpes

It's raining and therefore I am scanning. I don't really need an excuse to scan, it's one of the great pleasures of life to me, although I would be pushed to explain exactly what it is about the scanning process that I find so addictive. I suppose it has something to do with discovery: finding the unexpected hidden within pictures, finding beauty within beauty with almost Mandelbrot predictability. Scanning becomes a form of photographic archeology in which you can dig down through levels of detail to uncover the unexpected.

When you scan you get within the grain of an image and begin to understand why people in certain parts of the world originally feared cameras and photographers, believing that they were somehow capable of stealing the spirit of a subject. The most prosaic smile becomes enigmatic, the most ordinary clothing becomes extraordinary and the very personality of the sitter dons the equivalent of a high-visibility jacket.

The girl on the left in the above photograph is my mother, Gladys Beanland. She will probably have been about eighteen or nineteen when this photograph was taken which will have made it 1930 or there abouts. If I screw my eyes up and look at that young face I can see the outline of a much older face - it would be another eighteen years before I was born.

Photography has always been able to capture and freeze a moment in time. When you add high-resolution image scanning to the mix you can somehow extend that frozen moment, making it almost timeless. You can also take the unimportant and render it important. 

The entire point of the original image was the three girls enjoying a day away from the mill at an East Coast resort. But out of the background mist appears a Lowry-esque group with what appear to be a series of bicycles. But who would try and ride a bike on the soft sands of Cleethorpes? It is a mystery - just the kind of mystery that scanning is so good at generating. But this is why, rain or fine, I love to scan - I scan not to solve puzzles but to create new ones.


  1. Ha ha, you are most entertaining, as are your scanning skills.

  2. A shortcut gone awry? I love old photos, too. Did you notice the three friends love each other enough to have the same outfit? Were they friends forever and ever?

  3. Love the photograph, Alan. My eye was instantly drawn to the right of the three girls, though. Being a nosy sort, I couldn't help myself wondering what was going on at the beach.

  4. You are smitten with scanning and photography. Funny what you found in the background.

  5. I completely get where you're coming from on this. A frozen moment in time - what was going on in their young lives? Just wonderful. Are those cigarettes or pencils tucked behind their ears?

  6. I'll bet the railings are still there.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...