Why wasn’t my Dad Vivian Maier!

Those of you who follow me on twitter (those of you who don’t, why don’t you?!) may have read my tweets over the past weekend that I am currently looking through a box full of old transparencies taken by my late father. Most appear to date from the very late 1950s and early 1960s, though not all are dated.

Of course I was hoping to stumble across a veritable Vivian Maier-style collection of emotive, historical images. Unfortunately for me, my Dad wasn’t the street-photographer type.

Many of the images were taken in Germany of the places my Mother and Father visited when making trips to see my maternal grandmother in Ludwigshafen am Rhein where she lived, but Dad always liked taking pictures of landscapes, old houses and castles. None of which change much even in 50 years.

I’m still working my way through the slides though. There are maybe a couple of hundred in all. Again, not exactly Maier proportions, but some have caught some interesting fashion styles and cars and I need to look at them all before deciding if there is anything worth scanning.

One of the main problems I’m finding is the deterioration of the slides. Some have fungi growing on them. With some the slide mounts have sprung open, and others have lost all colour except magenta. Bit of a mixed bag of problems really.

Just out of curiosity, I’m posting a small selection of them here. These aren’t proper scans and I’ve left them deliberately messy – let’s call them instagrams that took a little longer to develop.

With all these issues though, it makes you wonder what state our digital files will be in 50 years from now. One solar flair and perhaps all digital photography will be wiped! Hmm, if only I could control the Sun, then I could control the digital photography market! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

*Tim has gone for a lie down and nurse will be along shortly with fresh medication.

View of Pultney Bridge and Empire Hotel, Winter 1961

Taken circa 1961, of the Empire Hotel and Pultney Bridge, Bath

Magenta photo of large trees in a park

Trees in a park. All the colour dyes apart from magenta have disappeared.

My mum at Frankfurt Zoo, circa 1960.

In those days you dressed smart for holiday.

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  • Ken of London October 12, 2011  

    Funny how Magenta is never anyone’s favourite colour bias.

    Do you find this?

    • Glass Eye October 14, 2011  

      Ken, you say that but when you look at the digital portraits some photographers offer up, you’d think magenta skin tones were all the rage.

      • Ken of London October 14, 2011  

        Yes, sadly you are correct.

        I weep for the future.

  • robertday154 October 13, 2011  

    Many years ago, I was working with a team of teachers evaluating audio-visual aids for education, and trying to catalogue a collection of stuff which had never been pruned in almost forty years. We came across a pile of educational filmstrips which were in Cibachrome, Ilford’s early colour process. All the dyes had migrated apart from the magenta; so we had filmstrips on “Fruit and vegetables” (for instance) where everything looked like tomatoes or pickled cabbage.

    We finally compromised and designated the worst stuff as “the reserve collection”…

    • Glass Eye October 14, 2011  

      Robert, out of interest did you scan any of the magenta stuff? It might make passable black and white, but maybe not ideal for colourful vegetables.

  • robertday154 October 13, 2011  

    I’m currently working on a book of street and railway station scenes which I took in the 1970s and 1980s. The occasional shot has something of the Vivian Meier about it, though mostly it’s just cars and street furniture (and buildings long since re-developed) that holds the interest.

    And of course, as all this stuff is in black-and-white (mainly), there’s no problem with migrating dyes…

  • Maricarjagger October 24, 2011  

    Excellent start and a good question. I had a similar problem when delving into an archive to gather materials of the university’s 100th anniversary. Tons of photos and ‘anecdotal’ history to gather. Mammoth job! I wish there is a digital way to gather this… and physical way too.
    Would be interested in seeing what you do with all the photos eventually.

    • Glass Eye October 24, 2011  

      Imagine in 50 years when our descendants are trying to rebuild faded digital files from old hard drives and DVDs. I bet they’ll curse our carelessness then! They’ll be trying to rebuild old Macs to read them 😀

      • Ken of London October 24, 2011  

        Old Mac’s don’t need rebuilding, they just become cooler and more sort after by the vintage crowd of wanna be art students 😉

        • Glass Eye October 25, 2011  

          Ken, even I have had Macs that were beyond repair! Thinking about it though, I had an early PowerBook where the real faults were the battery no longer taking a charge and the OS being incompatible with anything new. It was still a cool machine and I sold it on eBay for £150 to a student. Who has probably bought a new battery and sold it to a museum for £1,500.