Category Archives: Parade

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.




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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Easter Parade NYC

Easter Parade New York City 1959. A mixture of religion, culture and fashion this yearly event took place around 5th Avenue and was all about American prosperity. You can read more about it here. I like the ironies of the street sign ‘Public Shelter Capacity 300’! Apparently at its height (1947 and ten years earlier than this image), the parade drew 1 million people. They all wore their best clothes and hats.

This slide all the way from 1959 was in incredibly good condition, thanks to Kodachrome.

Before and after. Click for big.


Posted by on October 22, 2012 in America, City street, Parade, People

Leave a comment