I recently rediscovered some negatives from photos taken by my grandfather in the early 1930’s. This is the same grandfather I mentioned on Day Two Hundred and Ninety Five. Each negative is roughly 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches and they were found in a packet marked “Charles Speight, photographic dealer, London Road, Kettering”. My father was born in Kettering in 1931 and the family moved to Leicestershire when he was a toddler.
I know who some of the people are in the photos, but I’m going to have to ask some questions around the family to get a more complete idea.
Looking through these old negatives, and taking photos of them, proved to be rather thought provoking in many ways. All of these long dead faces staring back at me from the cellulose acetate upon which their images were captured around eighty years ago made me wonder just how long my own digital photos would survive. Would anybody be looking at those in eighty years time? I doubt it somehow. The idea of these people, all members of my “extended ancestry”, having their likenesses re-photographed using a digital camera and then published on the Internet really brought home the changes that have occurred between then and now. What on Earth would they make of today’s gadgets and gizmos and communications?
Of course, I had to try the obvious. Having taken a photo of the negatives I just had to load the picture into Photoshop and hit the “invert” button. The result can be seen below. For a good close up look at either image please click on them to see their Flickr pages. From there you will be able to see larger versions.
I was fairly impressed with the results to be honest, apart from the one in the middle which had obviously been rather over exposed when taken. I should be able to compensate for that to some extent if I shoot it again individually. I know I don’t have my lighting completely balanced here. On the shot above you can see a lighter band at the bottom of the frame, and obviously there is a corresponding darker band on the original photo of the negatives at the top of this post. I lit them by popping them on top of my “light tent” and firing my flash up from underneath on a pretty low power setting.
I now plan to shoot all of these negatives in the same way, one at a time. I should then be able to produce a “positive” version of them all in Photoshop to show to my dad and my aunt and any other relatives who might be interested to see them. Another little project all lined up!