Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Those Blurry Old Photographs - A Sepia Saturday Post

I'm thrilled!  How else could one share all the horrible photographs in an ancestor's collection but for a Sepia Saturday when the theme for the week is less than perfect photographs:  blurred, scratched, undefined, etc.  My collection of photographs spills over with images such as these.  Let's begin!

Who could throw away a photo like this?  Certainly not my mother.  I haven't thrown it away either because, let's face it, when else will I have a photo of a curtain frame with my father's cousin, Evie Leathers McClelland, attaching a lace curtain to it to dry?  This is the only photo of Evie that I have -- though I only know it's her because my mom told me.  (I may have guessed what she was doing even if I hadn't been told.)  It seems strange that she had guests and was doing house work, unless my parents dropped in unexpectedly.

Do you remember curtain frames with tiny nails or tacks around the edges?  After a gentle wash the edges of the lace curtains were pinned to the frame to block them to prevent shrinkage and to ensure they kept their shape.

Those Brownie cameras ensured ease in the taking of photographs but there was no guarantee how good (or bad) the photos would be.  There were so many variables -- light, angle, focus, frame, holding the camera steady. . . .

Next up is a photo of my mom on our back porch.  I can't throw this away because it says so much about the home where I grew up.  We often sat on the porch steps when I was a child, either taking a rest from a hot summer game, watching others play, or sitting with others to visit.  The porch steps were a gathering place.  And then there's the little clothesline with what look to be towels hanging there.  There's the broom to the right of the door, standing on it's handle so as not to warp the bristles.  All so familiar.  Besides all that, the porch was sometimes our fort, our store, our kitchen, our school room when we children played pretend.

Guaranteed my mom didn't take this one so she's not the only bad photographer in our family.

There are blurred photographs of couples and groups, . . .

. . . photos of pets and children, . . .

. . . and those early color photos whose color degraded to some ugly shades and tones.

These are just a few of my "treasures."  As bad as they are my mother kept them and I'm keeping them, too.  Not on paper, at least not yet, but digital images stored for possible future use (I've already used them once, today!) and because they are images of family members. 

There's no help for the blurred photos but the crooked photos, the ones that are too light or too dark, and the ones whose color has faded may be helped with the magic of a digital photo program.  I wish these were the only bad ones in among all the photos I've gathered but, sadly, they're not.  They make me extremely grateful for the good photographs!

This post was written as a contribution to Sepia Saturday #197.  Click through if you'd like to see more blurred, out-of-focus, poor photographs and read what others are saying about them.

--Nancy.
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28 comments:

  1. Little by little I've been using my computer photo program to correct color gone bad on old color photos, or pictures that were taken with color film that was outdated & I hadn't noticed. How wonderful to have the ability to do that now!

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    1. Yes, it IS fabulous to be able to edit color problems so easily, Gail. I thought about showing before and after photos in this post but decided to leave it to just before photos. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  2. Funny how everyone used to write all over their photos. I have a few like that in my collection.

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    1. Hi, Lorraine. My mom was awful for writing on photos. Most of them she wrote on when she was in her 50s and 60s, not at the time they were new. I suppose she wanted to make sure whoever saw them after she was gone knew who everyone was. She usually wrote on the borders but I have one snapshot on which she wrote the names of the three girls on their bodies. I'd have to be a better photo editor than I am to clean up that mess. Still, now I know who the girls are, without a doubt!

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  3. I so enjoyed this post! It makes me realize that I am not the only one who has a lot of
    "less than perfect" photos!

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    1. Hi, Dorene. Yes, it's helped me learn the same. I look at my mom's photo album and bemoan the lack of great photos. Now I know there are many more of us in the same situation.

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  4. Enjoying all the wonder photos shared this week. I have many and have tossed several, but need to do more. Not posting this week again, but reading others.

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    1. Hi, Patrica. I go back and forth about tossing some of the photos that are a mess. If they are really, really bad and I can't recognize a soul in them, out they go, but otherwise, I struggle. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  5. I particularly liked the "discolored" shots. We've come so far since the early days of colored photography.

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    1. Hi, David. I like the discolored shots, too, particularly because I can help them look better! I wonder if today's inks used to print photographs are more "secure" than those earlier printing methods. I rarely have photos printed these days.... Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  6. Love the porch shot -- and the memories you talk about. Oh, the magic of photography!

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    1. Thanks, Deb. It's not that the photo's great but that it brings out such memories, huh? In that way it IS magical. (In other ways, too, of course, it seems magical.)

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  7. It's a good thing some people wrote on the picture at all, later on, especially in our generation, it helps to identify some relatives!!! I wish my aunts and uncles had put something on back of their photos, even the year would have helped.

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    1. Hi, Rosie. When it comes down to it, I think I'm happier to have writing on photographs if it identify people, location, date, etc., than to have perfect photographs with no identification at all. In truth, I want both the identification but on the back AND the perfect photograph but that doesn't happen much with the photos I inherited. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  8. I have learned so much from this post. I had never before heard of curtain frames or their use. I shall now stand my straw broom on its handle. I love the photo of the children on the path. That boy's smile is so wide. And what is the girl holding in her arms? Is it chickens??? Lovely selection. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. Hi, Alex. I read your first sentence and wondered what you could possibly have learned from the post -- and then you told me. You could hang your broom, too, to keep the bristles from bending but who uses straw brooms these days? The girl is holding a dog but you can only see the tail. Too bad the photographer didn't step back two steps and we would have had both head of dog and the rest of the little girl on the left. Thus it goes with these old, awful photographs, huh? Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  9. I enjoyed looking at your "treasures."

    I never heard of a curtain stretcher before.

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    1. Thanks, Postcardy. I don't think curtain stretchers have been in common use since about the 1940s.

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  10. A Perfection Post! I think memory makes the best photoshop restoration.

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    1. Thanks, Mike! Yes, memory can do lots of things with the past, even with old photographs.

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  11. A lovely collection of family photographs that all mean so much, even if they might not be picture perfect. I particularly enjoyed your description of your family home and the memories evoked by the porch steps - beautifully expressed. .

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  12. I used to have some curtain stretchers. Where did they come from? I can't remember! I do know I never saw any curtains stretched on them. I was going to make a loom. I dislike the discolored photos the most because I can rarely get them to look normal. I guess my favorite is the one of your porch because of the stories you told about it. I do have several of my mother and her sister dressed in similar coats to the one on the far right of the first row of three. All in all a nice collection of not perfect but perfectly good photos.

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    1. Hi, Kristin --

      Yeh, the discolored photos are bad and I can't get the color right, either, but if they're in focus, I can turn them into black and white or sepia photos and at least save the image.

      Do you have a date for the photo of your mother in the coat? I'm guessing 1925 or later but I don't recognize any of the girls in the photo so it's hard to date it.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  13. Having a record of a process like drying lace curtains on a frame is one excellent reason to keep a fuzzy photo. So interesting!

    And I have my share of color photos that degraded to pinks and yellows. Like you, I changed the photo of my childhood home to black and white -- the bad color hurt my eyes! LOL

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    1. Some of the colors the old photos become are definitely eyesores! Thanks for visiting, Wendy.

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  14. You are right Nancy - where else would we every feature our "reject" photos but Sepia Saturday? Nowhere that I can think of.

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    1. If only we could pull them into focus, or alter the light, or fix the color they would be so very useful for other posts. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Sharon.

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I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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