Category Archives: Fairs&amusement parks

Johannesburg Festival

These two pics are labelled ‘JHB Festival’ and date to the late 1950s. They are tantalizing in their hints at a large, public event and location. However, I cannot be sure what festival this is. The Rand Easter Show is one possibility, so too is the annual Wits University RAG procession for the second image. The compressed perspective and amateur photographic skills result in quite an abstracted look. They’d make great paintings! Can you see the woman in the semi-transparent blue dress? She’s cool.

695 - JHB - Festival Town


Here are the before-and-afters. I enjoyed reclaiming color, particular the first one with it’s delicious pastels, yellows and inky blues. The process brought details back to life, such as a string of colored electric bulbs.




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



One way round!

Probably England, late 1950s. Mom and son on a seaside boat ride. Quite a solid little boat that one, its certainly not made of plastic.

Seaside amusement parks and areas, with boat their rides and many other facilities seen here in the background, were an important part of mid century culture. Outings to seaside amusement parks were a choice activity in the era, and appear frequently in my collection.

Read more about the growth, decline and evolution of amusement parks in the USA: Here.

Before and after




A Very Long Queue

I’ve always liked this image, taken through a spiral walkway of 3 lines of people, all part of a very long queue, somewhere in 1964. What are they queuing for? It must have been something appealing to young and old, men and women, and Nuns. They all look so well behaved, and relaxed. Love the kid with the black rimmed glasses on the top row.

The original needed brightening and reduced contrast as many of the people are in the shade. The fountains have also come up well in the restored version.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Fairs&amusement parks, Fountain, People

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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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Traditional Wooden House

This traditional wooden house is in Skansen Open Air Museum, Stockholm and was photographed in 1964. Consider the notion of time here. The park was created in the 1800’s and this scene probably looked much like this back then, as it probably still does today. For 150 years this has looked the same! While all around it context and meaning have changed. You can read more about the park here.

I selectively brightened up the green (perhaps a tad too over the top!) to bring this scene back to life, and added several filters to warm and sharpen it.

Before and after. Click for big.


Danbury Fair Fun

The Great Danbury State Fair in Connecticut was a huge event, fondly remembered by the many who attended every year. It began in 1822 and the last one was in 1981. After that everything was sold off and it was replaced in 1986 with a yucky shopping mall called the Danbury Fair Mall. This photograph was taken in 1958.

This was a fair amount of work. I needed to rebuild the sky and this involved a lot of tricky selections. It was worth it knowing that scene depicted has ceased to exist except in amateur photographs.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on November 17, 2012 in America, Children, Fairs&amusement parks

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