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Namibian Fantasy

This image – of a man posing with a Welwitschia plant – is one I’ve had for a long time. It is no doubt taken in Namibia, an extremely arid place, to which the plant is native. The man has always intrigued me with his triumphant pose and his vaguely unsavory looks. I’d wanted to write about the image, to restore it, but I seemed to be in a creative desert. Then I thought of the iPad game Plants vs. Zombies and it struck me that the man has an uncanny likeness to the zombies, with his open mouth, broken tooth, greasy wisps of hair and dull clothing. With a bit of a stretch, the Welwitschia plant is like one of the plants the zombies try to eat in the game. I put this little (un-restored) scene together just for fun.

PlantsvsZombies

In Afrikaans, the common name for the Welwitschia plant is tweeblaarkanniedood (translates awkwardly as ‘two leaves cannot die’). The game needs one of those! That’s Plants=1, Zombies=0.

 

 

Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Africa, Desert, Man, Nature

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Instant Relatives

The term ‘instant relative’ has emerged in popular culture. It refers to those photos of people found at flea markets. You can purchase them, take them home and presto! you have instant ancestors on your wall. I’ve seen them in holiday houses and restaurants, cloak rooms and hallways. In one holiday house I stayed in they hung above the bath. On the one hand it’s a shallow decor trend but on the other hand people really do start feeling a connection with the people in found photos. There’s definitely something deeper going on.

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These instant relatives – photographed in the UK in about 1965 – all come from a single collection. One inherits the loving, friendly or intimate gaze without any effort, and perhaps that is their attraction.

702---Oh-so-British-after

Snapshots such as these had great significance for their owners in colonial South Africa, depicting as they do one’s connection to a tribe in a country of origin, far away.

701---British-parentals-after

With the remove of time and no real familial connection, the anthropologist’s eye comes in. I love the details of domesticity, the houses and clothing tell a thousand stories about middle class English society.

700---Garden-group-British-after

Here’s Bob Richter explaining what instant ancestors are and how you can welcome them into your home.

 

Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Domestic scene, Europe, People, Suburban home

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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

696---Joburg-Festival

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.

695---JHB---Festival-Town-cropped

696---Joburg-Festival-cropped

 

Double Kodak Moment with Hairnet

The cultural practice of photography is usually hidden – you see the snapshot that was taken not the photographer in the act of taking it. That’s why I love this 1966 find in which a woman is photographing two girls in the small front garden of a house in what looks like Mowbray, Cape Town. I haven’t identified the camera but, with it’s top viewfinder, it looks like a 1940s or 1950s model. Their names are written on the frame: Lesley, Gillian and Alison. Maybe you know them? I almost feel like I do.

683---Domestic-photo-after-2

 

Argentinean Road Trips

Remember Grasshopper men’s shoes? They were popular in the 1970s and, true to the era, a Grasshopper shoe box arrived the other day filled with a very unusual collection of slides from the 1970s. These were left in South Africa by an Argentinean traveler, never to be retrieved. Among them are several fabulous snapshots of a group of friends on road trips in Argentina and Chile.

629---Argentina-road-trip-1 after

630---Argentina-Road-trip-2-after 631---by-the-seaside-after 633---guy-in-nature-after 677---Man-trip-after

674---Sign-to-Chile-after

665---River-crossing-roadtrip-after 663---Ladies-in-primary-colours-after 634---pipesmoke-scenery-after 657---Precaucion-after

632---three-ladies-after

681---Guy-on-the-road-after 676---Underpants-after 675---Shirtless-wonder-after 667---Group-with-cars-after

 

Posted by on November 10, 2015 in Old cars, People, Road trip, South America

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Cairo Late 1950s

Three images of old Cairo taken in 1959. The original slides were drive-by snaps or souvenirs. They are now really blasted by age, and are covered in dirt and mold. This condition seems to suit the subject, however, so I gave them a sepia treatment and enhanced texture. Cairo of the 1950s was a really different place to today, society there has become much more conservative, and conflict threatens ordinary ways of life as well as ancient relics. Just to consider Egypt and what it has meant to travelers from all over the world for decades, is to realize that countries have a responsibility towards world heritage. I guess that is UNESCO’s message. Historic Cairo became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, 20 years after these pics were taken.

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Necropolis

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City

578---Cairo-1959-Street

Street

 

Sunday lunch in the veld

Sunday lunch was always done right – no matter where you were in the 1960s. At least it was in privileged white society in Southern Africa. One can feel a little uncomfortable noting this, however the undeniable beauty of the setting offers an alternative, more aesthetic focus for this image! The pastel colors of the veld, all yellows, blues, browns and greens, look perfect with the pastel pink crockery. I love the rich simplicity of the era and the formal traditions, so stuffy at the time, seem quaintly appealing now. No gadgets, branding, or cheap, bright camping paraphernalia – indeed outdoor repasts today have a completely different look and feel.

463---Sunday-lunch-in-the-veld

 

What gives?

A group of people getting out, acting up, and hanging loose! Though I know nothing about them, the moment captured suggests they are a singing or acting troupe.

444---Antics-after

 

Posted by on March 31, 2015 in People

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Princess Bride 1960s

Mid 1960s bridal charm and simplicity.

450---Crowning-glory-after

449---Mirror-after

 

Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Domestic scene, People, Woman

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Youths on the street

A gem of a slide showing youths on the street in the 1960s.

445---Boys-on-the-street-after

Before and after

Its so damn good in black and white!

445---Boys-on-the-street-cropped

 

Posted by on January 21, 2015 in City street, People

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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!

448---Don't-fall-asleep-on-a-train-after

Before and after

Its fabulous in a tinted black and white.

448---Asleep-on-a-train-cropped

 

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

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Beach on the coast of Spain

I tackled this slide because of its physical qualities but fell in love with the scene along the way. The slide is in shocking condition, faded to pink and flimsily framed, but interesting because it is a large size – 4mm square. I know this beach is in Spain because of others – labelled – from the same original collection. I like the natural location of the beach, the absence of houses and the feeling of it being a secret cove, given by the rough cliffs. Down at the sea shore I love the boats and the small wooden pier.

371---Beach-after
The original unfocused image and the condition of the slide invited a romantic painterly treatment,
achieved with Topaz Labs new Impressions filter.

Before and after

371---Beach-cropped

 

 

Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Beach scene, Europe, Summer, Swimming

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Beautiful Walls

In this post I’ve collected together four images of walls, each from different eras, cultures and places.
Each building is beautiful in its own way. I also like how people feature in relation to the architecture.

Plain and imposing, with art – Built 1970s*

346---Arty-after
Solid and homely, with carriage lights – Built 1930s*

327---Brick-house-after

Intricate and lovely, with arches – Built 1890s*

325---Tiled-walls---after

Ancient and crumbling, with pillar – Built 100 BC*

250---Ruin-doorways-after

* Okay, I admit it, I have completely guessed when they were built!

Before and afters

346---Arty-cropped

325---Tiled-palace-or-mosque-cropped

327---Brick-house-cropped

250---Ruin-doorways-cropped

 

Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Mysterious, Traditional architecture

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Deeply Inviting Door

There is a delicious tension between this ancient, deep, black doorway and the group of people hanging back, almost clinging to a side wall. Ceremony has been replaced with sightseeing, and yet the door still exerts its pull. I can’t help comparing the hill to the body of a woman, the walls are her thighs and the door is an entrance to her earthy punani – literally her cave of love. Did the ancients intend that?

234---Dark-doorway-after

Before and after

I removed some people to increase the dramatic effect. The stone is much better in a pale chocolate-tinted black and white.

234---Dark-doorway-cropped

 

Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Mysterious, Ruins

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Bearded Man in Ruins

Did the ancients have any idea of the great expanses of time that their works would stand? This formally attired 1970’s man muses on the passage of time as he is held within stone walls that have stood for eons. Forty-something years later those walls are likely to be unchanged (unless they happen to be in a war zone), the man gone, and today’s travelers now muse via Instagram and Facebook. Social media was of course unknown to this seventies guy, just as it was unknown to the ancients who built the walls.

237---Bearded-man-in-ruins-after

Before and after

237---Bearded-man-in-ruins-cropped

 

Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Europe, Museum, Ruins

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