- Arts and Design
Old Photos and Family Memories: Beauty and Jealousy
Finding the Old Photo
My first thoughts when I looked at the photo were “I didn’t realize we had anyone in the family with such stunning looks”.
My sister had made a collage of old photos for my mum a couple of years ago. I must admit that I had never really looked at it properly. More recently however, I have become intrigued about our old family photographs and the stories they tell. If I look closely at the collage now I recognize mum as a girl, and also my aunts, uncles and grandparents. This particular photograph caught my eye with interest. What a stunning lady! I didn’t recognize her as a close relative, and so assumed that she was a distant aunt perhaps. I had to know everything.
“Who is this lady, Mum?”
“Oh, she had her photograph taken in your Grandparents’ Photographic Studio”
“They had an argument over that photograph…”
I had absolutely no idea that my Grandparents owned a Photographic Studio. Suddenly, I am tingling with excitement because I know that Mum and I are going down memory lane again. As we find ourselves looking at this particular photograph - just like pressing a button - a wealth of new and incredible information materialises before me!
I had never met my Grandfather (Mum’s Dad). He died suddenly when Mum was still a little girl, leaving my Grandmother to bring up 6 children on her own. But sure enough, about 70 years ago, my Grandparents had their own Photographic Studio in Birmingham in the UK. Perhaps my love of photography did come through the family genes after all!
The Story of our Stunning Lady
My Mum proceeded to tell me the fascinating story, as it was once told to her by my Grandmother.
One day, our attractive young lady walked into my Grandparents’ Photographic Studio with very definite ideas on how she would like to have her portrait taken. She wanted to wear a veil, have a shawl draped around her bare shoulders and to hold a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. While my Grandfather was arranging the shawl around the young lady’s shoulders, my Grandmother walked into the studio, briefly observed the scene before her, and then walked out again. Although this portrait sitting was perfectly professional and completely innocent, my Grandmother had become possessed with jealousy. This sparked a terrible argument between my Grandparents; an argument that did not subside for several days!
I was quite astonished that the photograph had been kept after it had caused such a reaction. What was more ironic was that my sister, who had found the photo, didn’t know who it was but liked it so much that had placed it in the collage next to my Grandparents’ photo!
Restoring the Old Photo
The photograph was in good condition, but there was still some restoration work to do. I scanned the photo at 600dpi and used Adobe Photoshop for the restoration work.
To restore a black and white photo such as this:-
1. Navigate to the toolbar at the top of the screen
2. Click on IMAGE/MODE/GREYSCALE
Over the years, colour fades in old photographs. Black and white photos also become very discoloured over time. Adobe does a very accurate colour restore for both colour and black and white photos this also improves clarity and sharpness.
This is a great quick fix!
3. Go to IMAGE/ADJUSTMENTS, and click on AUTO LEVELS; the adjustment is immediate.
4. Next go to IMAGE/ADJUSTMENTS and click on CURVES
5. A new window opens to make a manual adjustment to brightness and contrast.
When restoring old photos, I recommend that you always work on your photo zoomed in; you will be amazed what you can see. If your photo looks good when you are zoomed in, then it’s even more impressive when you zoom back out!
6. Keep saving copies of your work as you go.
Because my sister had cut the photo into a shape (bless her) the edges needed tidying up and the photo needed a background.
To do this, follow the next few simple steps:-
7. Open up a new image; I selected 6 inches x 8 inches and 400dpi .
8. Select the paint bucket tool and a colour and click on your new image to apply a background colour.
9. Next, navigate back to your original photo
10. Click on the selection tool; I chose ‘eclipse’ to shape the photo how I wanted it to look.
11. Copy and paste the selection to your new image.
Add a Splash of Colour for Effect
To very easily and simply add a little colour to your photo, follow these easy steps:-
1. If your image is in black and white, firstly navigate to the toolbar at the top of the screen, and select IMAGE/MODE/RGB COLOUR.
2. Select the ‘colour replacement tool’
3. Set the required foreground colour and the required size for the tool in the toolbar.
4. Zoom in on your image and start painting
It’s that easy!
Once you start adding a splash of colour, the possibilities are endless. I experimented by adding different colours into bouquet of flowers. I also added some colour to my Grandfather’s buttonhole!
I have had a huge amount of fun playing with the ‘colour replacement tool’ with lots of different photos; I hope you do too!
For some more nice easy tips please see my hub Photo Restoration Scanning and Restoring Old Photos at Home.
I have loved spending quality time with my Mum looking at old photos. You never know what surprises might be in store when you take a trip down memory lane!