Carnaby Street Coolness

Lord John was a Mod Look clothing store and then clothing chain success story in 1960’s swinging London. The owner drove around the city in his Rolls Royce and cultivated a gangster image. He was once interviewed wearing a see-through body shirt over a golden-tanned spare-tyre and said in a thick London accent “Let’s make this fast, young man – I’ve got a very busy day”. In 1967 he commissioned a huge hippy mural on one of his two Carnaby Street stores. It was very daring at the time.


Before and after

This was a cheap souvineer slide so had completely lost color. I went for a black and white tint with light edges.




Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Art objects, City street, Europe

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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



John O’Groats Post Office

Looks cute and cottagey doesn’t it? Conjures up cobbled village streets, quaint pubs, nodding roses, fragrant heaths and such doesn’t it?! Well, I’ve just read up about the town of John O’Groats (pop. 300) on the extreme north east tip of Scotland and cute it is not. Lonely planet called it a “seedy tourist trap” and Urban Realm magazine gave it a Carbunkle Award for ‘Scotland’s Most Dismal Town’. This is why I prefer armchair travel.


It is interesting to reflect on how individual travelers perpetuate cultural stereotypes by framing pics that fit a mold. Hopefully the ‘major redevelopment work’ happening in John O’Groats now will rescue it.

Before and after




Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Close-ups, Europe, Rural life

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Doggie welcome

Everyone who knows dogs loves the welcome one gets when arriving home, how much better than in this awe inspiring, African mountain and farm setting. Love that fresh 1960s outfit, complete with impractical white shoes.


I applied a clean, painted effect and reworked the color.

Before and after




Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Africa, Country scene, Pets, Woman

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Dancers in the park

A very pretty, slightly silly picture, just begging for a caption. Tell me if you think up a good one!


Before and after

This image started out dark and awful. I enjoyed brightening it up and applying a painterly effect.





Posted by on September 14, 2014 in City Park

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The alpha

I’m getting a little braver about sharing pictures of people. And who wouldn’t with such wonderful material? Like this 1970’s snapshot at a work occasion, of a classic alpha male. Even the poses of those around him seem to affirm his status. I’m sure that silver hair flowed all the way down his back!


Before and after




Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Man, People

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Baalbek temple theatre

From a 1964 trip that took in the entire middle east region, comes this image from a visit to Baalbek, in Lebanon. Seen here is the temporary stage set up for the annual Baalbek Festival, with part of the ancient Roman Temple of Jupiter as a backdrop. I like the colors of the seats, yellow was top price.


This ancient location is a world heritage site, with a settlement history going back 9000 years. The temple is one of the biggest and best preserved of the ancient Roman world. Read more.

Of course silly stories about alien landing pads have been touted, but this video about the layout, and building practices of the Romans, will set you straight:  video.

The Baalbek International music and cultural festival started in 1956 and was 9 years old when this pic was taken. It has had to stop now and then due to conflict in the region, but did take place this year. Festival site.

Before and after



Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Middle East, Museum

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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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Romantic silhouette

Couple at Rhodes Museum, Greece, 1964.


Before and after

A case of recoloring, balancing light and shadow, and shadow detail recovery.




Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Europe, Museum, People, Sightseeing

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Two hotel interiors


Vintage interiors in vernacular photographs are a rare find. It wasn’t the culture to photograph the room you were in, unless people were the main subject. Also, cameras of old did not cope well with low light; even today’s phone cameras do a better job. So, it was lovely to come across these two, atmospheric examples. The window and mountain view are very much the subject of the second image, but the dynamic between the interior and exterior is what makes this image so intriguing.




Before and afters

 The first was faded to magenta but via a black and white conversion, to sepia, and the use of a filter, the image gains a warm painterly feel, appropriate to the era.


25---View from lounge-cropped



Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Hotel, Interiors, Mountains

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The dinner party

A long time favorite, this image. Our focus is on the young woman staring back at the camera – obviously annoyed, even angry. Its gratifying to see a genuine, unfiltered, un-hidden, un-bidden emotion on display. With so much posing and smiling for the camera, as we are taught to do, this is refreshing. Its also a lovely composition, and one which snapped into place as soon as I cleaned it up and converted it to black and white.


Before and after




Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Domestic scene, People, Woman

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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




Big Man Little Fish

So endearing, this man. Despite being all hunky and handsome, I see the boy child within. He looks perplexed though, at having caught such a tiny fish.


And look, the picnic on the bank. Those cooler boxes are Colemans, recognisable by the white diamond-shaped logo. Thanks to his lady friend (imagined) who recorded this moment so lovingly.




Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Africa, Camping, Man, River

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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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