Category Archives: America

Asleep on a train

I love the irony of this wonderful 1960s snapshot. When in the moment we seldom think of the journey a photo can take in the world. Both photographer and sleeper had no idea that the Internet would one day exist and that this image would be shared – and enjoyed – in digital form by a wide audience!


Before and after

Its fabulous in a tinted black and white.



Posted by on January 21, 2015 in America, Close-ups, Man, People

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Creepy Fairground Reindeer

Fairground models and rides can be really creepy. In broad daylight with happy children, the coffers filling, ice creams dropping, and adults loafing around its a joyful picture. But just imagine how these painted papier-mâché beasts must have looked when it was deserted and lonely, in the wee dark hours, bathed in moonlight. Spooky! This was taken at the Danbury Fair, Connecticut, in 1958.


I lifted a reindeer and had fun working him into this 1970s snapshot of a young guy in a portrait museum. That sharp-eyed, sinister reindeer is looking down the stairwell and making the poor kid nervous!




Posted by on September 29, 2014 in America, Children, Fairs&amusement parks

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Ripley’s Transparent Woman

On the boardwalk (note wooden planks) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 1961. Believe it or not Mr. Ripley’s strange empire is still going strong and this Atlantic City ‘Odditorium’ can still be visited today here.


Before and after



Spooky house

Unknown location, USA. This ornate, spooky guesthouse plays easily with my childlike imagination. I can almost hear the deep echoing laughter of an evil-minded host!


Before and after

The ruined color of the original suggested a black and white conversion which, with added misty effects, enhanced the creepy atmosphere.



Posted by on September 8, 2014 in America, Mysterious, Suburban home

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Five retro cities in sepia

Wild monkeys and air balloons migrating across smokey, sepia colored cities … For a recent art project, I searched through my collection and found these 5 stunning examples of city views. London, New York, Florence, Stockholm and Paris were all shot by amateur travelers in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. The images were used for “Migration Series” – part of our recent exhibition with added illustrations by Pete Woo.

Final art works

Migration-series - New York 1958New York

Migration-series - London 1959London

Migration series - Florence 1958Florence

Migration-series - Stockholm 1964Stockholm

Migration-series - Paris 1964Paris

Limited edition prints were done on watercolor, textured paper using archival inks. An alternative print was also done on metal. The series is currently still available. Get in touch with Studio Woo if you’re interested in purchasing.

Read more about the exhibition ‘Black Sheep Clever Monkey

Before and afters of the cities:








Posted by on February 17, 2014 in America, City view, Europe

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View Alcatraz

Fishermans Wharf S.F. August 1962. This pic was taken 2 months after one of the most daring prison escapes in history. 7 months later, in March 1963 Alcatraz closed forever. Read more.



Posted by on October 20, 2013 in America, Political, Sightseeing

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First Avenue from Peter Cooper Village

Gritty, dark and glinting. This June 1960 snap of First Avenue New York was taken from the window of an apartment in Peter Cooper Village. Although we don’t see the residential complex in this pic, its worth reading about. Peter Cooper Village (and Stuyvesant Town) are huge red brick residential complexes on the east side of Manhattan. Built in the 1940s, around 25 000 people live there today – in upmarket slums! Read more.



Posted by on October 19, 2013 in America, City view, Modern city streets

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Wild West Adobe Building

Grand Canyon area, USA 1971. This adobe and stone building is possibly an old fort built in the 1800’s and is probably still standing today, although I haven’t been able to verify that. Read all about adobe buildings here. Love that old seventies sedan tucked into the shade.

I did a number of things to this image to correct problems and enhance the atmosphere. Dirt was cleaned up, lens distortion was corrected and the contrast was reduced. I worked on coloring and texture to push the atmosphere, adding noise, sharpening and bringing out the warm tones.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on March 5, 2013 in America, Traditional architecture

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Huge Helium-Filled Spaceman

This huge, helium-filled spaceman was photographed on the streets of New York on 26 November 1958. Macy’s Parade has been staged every Thanksgiving Day since 1924 by the famous department store. You can see large scale balloons of popular characters. In 2012 they had Hello Kitty but in the 1950s it was Popeye, Spaceman and Mighty Mouse who loomed over the crowds. The parade started at 9am in the morning which explains the very poor light in these pics.

Click the pic to see a large version.

Streets are narrow places leading to some signature problems in amateur photography, such as strong contrasts early or late in the day and odd perspectives. Here I had to show two pics together to tell a story. Restoration involved getting rid of dust and scratches, and reducing contrast. I lightened areas and deepened the color where it was needed. What started out dark and doubtful ended up working quite well.

Here are the two originals as they looked before:



Posted by on January 22, 2013 in America, City street, Parade

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Strangers in Paradise Mardi Gras

Another pic from the Mardi Gras street parade in 1959 (see previous post). I love how a bit of research helps one to connect with an image. This shows the ‘Strangers In Paradise’ float, named after the popular song, ‘Stranger In Paradise’. This romantic song is from the Hollywood film ‘Kismet’ of 1955, and the earlier musical of 1953. See the song being performed in the film here. It was well-loved in the era and no less than 6 versions of it charted in the UK in 1955. If we could only see that float close up, I am sure it contained people dressed as characters from the film, which was set in old Baghdad and had an ‘Arabian Nights atmosphere’ according to Wikipedia. The song is still performed to this day by the likes of Andre Rieu and Sarah Brightman. There are many wonderful versions on YouTube here.

Lighter, brighter, sharper. Check out the Chevrolet advertising in the top right corner!

Before and after. Click for big.



Posted by on January 16, 2013 in America, Modern city streets, Parade

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Queen Zulu and Her Court

Mardi Gras, New Orleans 1959. This caught the eye of a South African traveler back in the day. Queen Zulu?! Its impossible to explain this image in only a few lines so have a look and then read below for the explanation.

Explanation: Understanding this image opens up a complex and layered view of a far-off culture. I admit to only having done about an hour’s research but love the criss-crossing of cultural symbols, meaning and identity in this story. Read on: The Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans is quite a major happening. Krewes (or clubs) put together themed floats for it. The so-called ‘Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’ – in existence since 1916 with even older roots – is one of the famous ones. Every year, a King is elected plus a host of other characters (read about them, including the fascinating ‘Zulu Mr. Big Stuff’ here). In 1949, Louis Armstrong was the Zulu King. Now, what we see here is the float for the Zulu Queen. She was actually a side show to the King. If you read about the Club on Wikipedia here, you’ll see that only the names of the Kings are recorded. The Queens were a later addition and were often wives of club members. To this day, club membership is all male, and predominantly African-American. You can read all about the history and current activities of the ‘Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure club’ here on their web site. Read also about New Orleans here and Mardi Gras here. This looks all rather un-PC in 2013 doesn’t it? Well, in the 1960’s the club almost folded during an era of black consciousness, but it hung on and revived and is very active to this day in the carnival and with day-to-day community projects.

Restoring this image involved lightening and brightening. There were deep, dark grey skies on that carnival day back in 1959.

Before and after:

Click for big.


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in America, Parade, People, Traditional costume

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Kaibab Horse Trail

The Kaibab Plateau borders the Grand Canyon in the South, Arizona USA. This trail, shown in 1962, was either the North or South Kaibab trail into the Canyon. Touring this vast area on horseback is still a popular pastime but it does come with warnings as, once out of the trees (the Kaibab National Forest), the exposed, rocky and very hot conditions of the Canyon are challenging for riders and horses alike. Canyon officials prefer to use mules. Certain images really make me want to go there, and this is one of them.

A dramatic improvement from the original as the blue tone was removed, and light and color was brought into the image.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on January 8, 2013 in America, Children, Country scene, Horses, Nature

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Danbury Fair Bus Terminal

Late 1950’s this pic is of the bus terminal at the Danbury Fair in Connecticut. The Fair ran from 1822 when it started out as an agricultural gathering until 1981 when it closed. It was huge with 100 to 200 thousand people attending each year. Transport facilities must have been quite a logistical challenge.

The image was very blurred, skew and with very dark corners, but I love the old cars, profile of the signs, flapping flags, and allure of the far-off tents. The light – glinting off the chrome and the muddy rain puddles – convinced this was worth the effort.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on January 7, 2013 in America, Fairs&amusement parks, Old cars

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Coney Island Amusement Park

Coney Island is a beach peninsula in Southern Brooklyn, NYC. Its famous for its amusement parks which were at their height from 1880 to WWII. This image from 1958, one of my older slides, is from an era when the amusements parks had supposedly fallen into neglect. They’re still up and running now, though, so I guess a good tradition never dies. Wonderland Park shown here would have been a themed area, part of the larger complex, but its not mentioned in the Wikipedia article, so was possibly too small, short-lived or disappointing!

The ride in the foreground – called WHIP – was invented by a Coney Island company in 1914. It involved little cars (aren’t they cute!) and a mechanism that caused them to speed up and then literally whip around a corner, throwing the rider to one side. Apparently it was rather ‘tame’ as rides go.

The original was underexposed and murky, giving it a rather creepy look (as only amusement parks can have). With a bit of brightening, color correction and research, the image suddenly developed more visual interest.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on December 18, 2012 in America, Fairs&amusement parks

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Charleston Row

This row of old houses was photographed in Charleston, South Carolina, USA in 1959. A note on the frame reads ‘Tricyclist of 90’, referring to the old man making his way down the road on – yes! – an adult sized tricycle. I also noted the brand new, shiny parking meters, looking like they had just been installed.

I enjoyed working on the colors and textures of these old buildings.

Before and after. Click for big.