Change of Pace

When I was very young, my parents sometimes treated us to a slide show of their pictures from the early days, mostly before I was born. This was in the days before the Kodak Carousel projector – my parents’ projector took a single slide at a time and as it slid in, the previous one fell out the other side. I haven’t seen those slides in well over 50 years but I recently retrieved a metal slide carrier attaché of them from my mother with about 300 Kodachrome slides, mostly from the mid to late 1950s with a few taken as late as 1964.

My father shot with a Voigtländer Vitessa which he’d bought at the PX when he was in the army in Germany, the poor man’s Leica, which I got from him years later. The pictures appear to begin in Germany, in Stuttgart where I believe he was stationed and, I think, in Frankfurt. Then my parents appear to have returned to his home in London: lots of tourist scenes, street scenes, family shots, before returning to the US for too many pictures of me in my first year and trips to California, Reno, and Yosemite.

This has turned into quite the project. The slide scanning software that came with my old Epson scanner no longer works on a current Mac and Espon has declined to update it. So first I had to research and try out various pieces of software that claimed to work with my scanner and recognize color positive transparencies. Next I had to figure out how to make it recognize my slide carrier and record 4 separate high-resolution TIFF scans. Then I was able to start scanning. It took 28 minutes to scan 4 slides, so all 300 slides took some time. Then I had to load them into Lightroom and make sure they were all turned the right way around. Next comes some basic straightening, cropping, exposure control, color correction and so forth. The final step is a truly massive amount of retouching. Although I used an air-gun to clean all the slides before scanning, they remain coated in a remarkable collection of stains, dust and small hairs rendering some of them almost unbearable to look at.

Tomorrow my mother comes over to help me identify who is in all these pictures and where they were taken.

Let’s start in London:

Chalk art
Trafalgar Square fountains
and the famous lions

Published by

Adam Isler


21 thoughts on “Change of Pace”

  1. To me it sounds like my very first foto experiments on a computer (and Photoshop – also a new experience then…) I had 25 rolls of black and white, already developed by a friend as I did not have my darkroom any more, that I really wanted to see as photos… let’s say that I learned a lot in a short time… 😀 And the part about all kinds of stuff stuck to the negatives I had to get rid of – sounds very familiar… But still beats spending hours cross-eyed to do it with a brush. 😉

    Yours are really lovely and don’t seem to have lost anything in the ‘translation’ – getting the colors right must have been an extra hurdle. Street photography is kind of in the family? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. This time was harder than when I originally scanned my B&W negatives because I first had to research working software and also, at 4 slides per scan instead of 6 35mm frames it was even slower!
      Agree about manual retouching. You had to pick the right shade and hue of retouching toner and diluted it just right for each individual tone in the image. And if you got it wrong, there was nothing for it but to go back in the darkroom, make another print, rinse it for an hour, dry it and attempt to retouch it again. My God – how did we do it!

      I think when my father bought his Voigtländer he was excited as a novice photographer so most of these shots are between 1955-56 in Europe. Then there are a bunch of me as a newborn in NY in 1957, then nothing till a trip to California in 1964 and then silence. So, while he shows a nice sensitivity as a new photographer, I don’t know if he ever made it to “street photographer.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah – how did we do it! 😀 Have you ever tried to “paint” something in color on a b&w picture? I had a friend who loved green dragons. So I dug up a dragon, made a picture of it and then started coloring the dragon – point per point… It took three or four copies to get it more or less right… and on time for his birthday… 😀

    A pity your father stopped. Guess he left the rest of the world to you… 😉


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