You can say that it is somehow wrong to add colour to old sepia photographs. That, however, is what time has been doing for 100 years - sepia being as artificial as a photoshopped smile.
Take, for example, Water Street, in Halifax back in 1939. This particular MAP (Messing About Project) started life as a rather poor quality newspaper image from the Halifax Courier and Guardian of Saturday 22nd April 1939. It was there simply as an image of Halifax at the time, and was captioned “Caddy Field From Water Lane Looking Towards Southowram” It is a still recognisable scene to anyone who has wandered along the streets of Halifax in more recent times.
To find and copy the image would be fun, but it is the messing about which provides me with real enjoyment. I won’t bore you with a list of the various filters and dodges used to create the finished image – if truth be told I can’t remember most of what I did. I like the result, however: I like creating pictures from the past.
The wonderful thing about old 35mm negatives is that they come in strips. I used to always process my own, and cut them into strips of six negatives for storage, and this has preserved a degree of continuity when it comes to the relationship between individual photographs, half a century or more down the line. Thus I can take this particular strip of negatives, which were taken about 50 years ago, and almost follow my route as I walked from Halifax Station, past the Town Hall, and on towards North Bridge and its’ railway sheds. After yesterdays’ photograph of the exterior of the wagon shed, I obviously stepped inside the deserted building for my next shot, and this is the one that is featured above.
This theory has its limitations, however, because then we get to the final shot on this strip of negatives, and to the elephant in the room. After half a century, I have no idea where it was taken – where I went to next after exploring the underside of North Bridge. But wherever it was, it was inhabited by elephants! Southowram perhaps!
This is an old picture postcard of Halifax Town Hall from my collection. It is the detail that is fascinating: Salmon & Glucksters tob...