Evelyn Millard and Lewis Waller


This is Evelyn Millard with Lewis Waller in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, I think in 1905. I wanted to give this a very theatrical appearance so have intensified the contrast to bring out the highlights and shadows and have added a little extra colour to their faces. Click the images to see them larger and in more detail.

Posted on 24th July 1905, in Peckham, London, the back of the postcard is interesting, too, but in a different way. I’ve scanned it as one whole and three other parts, as the sender had written all around it and some of the printing is upside down too.  If you look at the part written at the top (upside down in small handwriting) you’ll read this:

“I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends”

The quote is from Richard II by Shakespeare, so the sender was obviously a big fan, but I wonder what the relationship was between sender and recipient?

With my bad school French and Google Translate here’s what (I think) the message on the back says:

N’oubliez-vous pas demain au soir, cinq heures et demie n’ect ce pas? J’attendrai pour vois le mercredie au soir a six heures et demie. J’espere que’il fera beau. Je vous remercie beaucoup pour toutes les fleurs que vous m’avez donne. Adieu ma tres chere ami de votre

E.W.C (or B?)

You won’t forget tomorrow evening, five thirty, will you? I will wait for you at six thirty on Wednesday evening. I hope it will be nice. Thank you very much for all the flowers you gave me. Farewell my dear friend, yours E.W.C (or B?)

It’s addressed to Miss Minnie Forster, 149 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, S. E. That’s an address in London, England. A few houses from here, in fact:

(You can click, drag and zoom inside the image. Try it.)

If you’d like to hear Lewis Waller’s voice, there are a few other recordings of him on YouTube, but for now here he is reciting from The Charge of the Light Brigade.

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In other news, I have some more work that you can look at, this time in Karen MacArthur Grizzard’s blog. This is the post: Bringing Old Photographs to Life. My thanks to Karen for giving me the opportunity to colour some of her family photos.

If you’d like me to colour any of your vintage or antique photos, do please get in touch, via my contact form.


Girl With Curtains


I was looking through some of my cards and photos this evening and came across this one which I’d put aside. I’d bought it as part of a job-lot of assorted photos – can no longer remember the theme, there usually is one – but hadn’t been impressed as the girl seemed to have an odd expression on her face. Then I realised I’d not even scanned it, so I did that and as I brought it up on the screen I thought “can I at least fix that damage?”

Sometimes a photo looks remarkably different when it’s been restored. Not just the obvious improvement of mending a tear or a bit of fading, but it seems to give it… well… ‘attitude’. And as I worked on this photos, the girl’s attitude changed. I’m just not sure to what!

What do you think? I’m wondering if she might have normally worn glasses and perhaps couldn’t quite focus, or if the photographer surprised her with the moment he took the photo.

As you can see, I’ve added to the mystery by doing two version. I’ve left her clothes the same in both, but have changed the colour of the curtains. I’m not sure which I prefer, which do you like better?

Boys with Fox Cubs


This one is bit different from my usual cards and photos, I think you’ll be able to see why I chose it – it’s charming, don’t you think?

Charming but also rather puzzling, bearing in mind how long it takes to shoot a photo with wildlife and children in it. Did the photographer get the camera ready before the children arrived? Did he or she know that the fox cubs would be coming out of their set?

And the boys… I was wondering whether they are working class or upper (or something in between). At first glance they seem very well dressed – one even has a pocket watch – or at any rate something hidden that’s attached to a chain or rope coming from his waistcoat buttonhole. But then taking a closer look, the lower part of his waistcoat is coming apart at the seams, and his jacket is ripped at the edge, too. Did that happen on this same day? Or was he told “yes, you can go out, but if you’re going to play with the foxes, you’d better put on something old.”

It looks like it’s at the end of autumn, with dry grasses and that rather browny-green look everything seems to have, so I didn’t brighten it as much as I usually do. In fact, the way I’ve done it, it seems to look rather like sepia come to life, don’t you think?

I wonder about the date of it. Any thoughts? My guess is 1910 – 1920, but it could be earlier. The clothes should give a clue, but I’ve not looked into it yet.

One child is wearing a cap, the other what looks like a pith helmet, which made me wonder if it was taken in India rather than in Britain, but I don’t know that India has this sort of fox (Bengal foxes appear to be rather different). I bought it from a UK seller, and the kids do look particularly British. There is also the badge that the boy on the left is wearing – I wonder if it is for a club of some sort, it seems to be a 3-leaf clover, but could be something else.

I didn’t have a clue what fox cubs looked like, colour-wise, so I had a quick look online and assume these are a month or more old as they seem to have some of the white that they’d have as adults, and very young cubs are apparently chocolate brown. I know what adult red foxes look like, as they sometimes visit the garden (yard) where I live and the surrounding fields and pastures. We had a visit from the very handsome one, below, last year. (And yes, that’s the original colour!)

Click a couple of times on each of the photos of the boys and fox cubs to see them larger and more clearly, they should open in a different window or tab.


Woman in patterned top, with child



I’ve referred in the title of this post to the patterned top the woman’s wearing. That top took me a long time to do, much longer than I’d thought it would.  First I couldn’t decide on the colours, then thought I’d picked out the centres in a different colour than I ended up choosing and found I had missed some. Then realised that parts had outlines I hadn’t, at first, spotted. Eventually, I told myself “you’ve got to buckle down, Val, and put on the grid!” Urgh. The Grid. It superimposes a grid of sub-divided squares onto the image and I use it sparingly because it’s too much like the sort of discipline my dad would have approved of but which my wayward/free spirit, doesn’t care for… But I did it. And I suspect I have still missed bits here and there…

Because… well… I’m human. Yep, there I said it!

Click the image a couple of times to see both photos larger. It’ll open in a separate tab or window.

I don’t know the date of this photo. The child’s dress is Broderie Anglais, again, I think (but again, might be some form of crochet.)  The woman’s top (blouse? Tunic?) could be anything from the 1930s to the 1960s. I  don’t know if the woman is the child’s mother or grandmother – her hands look too old for her to be the mother, possibly an aunt. Her skirt’s fabric is reminiscent of a type of lining material. I’m sure it has a name (the lining material and the actual material of this skirt) but I can’t recall it.

And where is it from?  I bought it from a British seller (on Ebay, I think) but of course it might have come from anywhere. To me, the woman’s hairstyle looks Germanic or Scandinavian.

I chose the hair, skin and pattern colours based on how light the hair was, and what details I was able to bring out. The green for an older look, the turquoisey-blue for a later look, blonde or light brown hair for that more Scandinavian look.

My collection of photos and my colourings have a way of giving me a chance to time-travel, so why not have the option of going back a little way, or back even further?

What looks like something knitted that the woman’s partly sitting on is probably the child’s cardigan and maybe should be in a different colour, but I didn’t want it to distract the attention away from the main subjects. This is the thing of colouring people in unknown situations – one can choose colour to give or avoid giving a particular effect… but that’s not the way to do it if trying to achieve a proximity to reality in family photos where a sense of connection and familiarity is more important.

I’ve done this one darker than the one in my previous post. My choices in this one had to do partly with the quality of the photo and partly with it being a studio photo. Light indoors and outdoors has different qualities.

I like this photo –  particularly the way the woman is just barely concealing a smile (that could probably turn into a laugh at any moment) and the way the child has been surprised by something – probably the intensity of the studio light, or maybe someone to the side of the room, out of our view.

The woman’s hands are loose, showing she is fairly relaxed, and the child is in an “oh my!” position.

Mum, Baby and Daffodils


Click each photo a couple of times to see full size. Each will open in a separate window or tab.

As soon as I saw this photo I knew I had to have it. I don’t know the woman or child or who the photo belonged to but maybe one day the little girl (who is now probably older than me), may find it. Then I’ll reunite her with her photo.

When I first saw it I thought it was shot against a grass verge just off a pavement on the side of a road, but it looked to me like the flowers were planted rather than wild. Then I noticed the reflection in the wheels (which I’ve very lightly coloured in the top version) and realised it’s a park.

In Wales, daffodils appear all over the place, it’s the first sign of spring, here, and it’s the country’s national flower. But is this Wales? Or England? Or some other country?

I was puzzled by the pushchair. It looks art deco by its shape and wicker has certainly been popular for a very long time, but I’m not sure that it’s 1930s as a lot of resources online seem to suggest. Rather, I think it’s late 1940s or 1950s. The wheels are a dead giveaway to that sort of period, and if you look closely you’ll see the trim round the wicker looks like plastic. Likewise the rubber covering on the handle.

I’ve seen similar pushchairs (baby buggies) online, some were made in Germany but the ones closest to this one were American, so I’m wondering if this woman and her baby were visiting friends or family in the UK.

Originally I’d decided that the wicker would be white – as a painted type, but then thought that it looked better with a slight tint. Having lived through the 1950s, I don’t recall having seen very bright whites, from that decade or the previous one, but there were certainly plenty of creams, and off-creams. Things when new were certainly bright, but not as ‘in yer face’ as they were from the mid-60s onward.

I’d wanted to give this photo a clear, bright, happy look so I deepened the contrasts and picked out the centres of the daffs in a deeper, orangey yellow.

I made the woman’s skirt brown as it gave it a nice contrast to the grass and flowers. In some photos, the clothes call for bolder colouring, bright colours, but this is bright enough in the flora.

The woman’s skin and the child’s skin are slightly different tones, but that might not show very well because of all the high colour elsewhere in the photo.

I’ve done quite a bit of ‘cheating’ in my coloured version. The purple/lilac flowers (which might be Spanish bluebells or grape hyacinths or just ‘ordinary’ hyacinths) have received a gentle blob of colour here and there (and a few rather ungentle blobs) If grape hyacinths of course those blobs should have been deep blue! Many of the daises are missing their centres. What look like pansies are yellow and might be a different type of flower in a different colour altogether, but it seemed right for this photo. Most of the distant trees are lacking additional colour in their trunks and there’s not a great variation in the foliage, but that doesn’t matter as it’s the impression that’s important here.

I added a few bits of paler, warmer green to some of the leaves on the hedge, and no, I didn’t individually colour each leaf!  That said… I did colour many individual daffodils and their leaves…

Sometimes I think I must be crazy!



On a separate note, I’ve recently done some work for a fellow blogger, Luanne Castle, and you can see a couple of the photos I’ve coloured for her, in her post Isidore in Living Color, which is in her family history and genealogy blog, Entering the Pale. She has another genealogy and family history blog which is The Family Kalamazoo.

And – just a word about my colouring and restoration work. I’ve recently lowered my prices (which now start at £25) so if you would like one or more photos coloured, please do get in touch via my contact form.

I still need to re-write my info page but I’ll give you more information when you contact me.


Little girl by chair


Two of the types of photo that are difficult to get balanced in terms of light and shade are ones printed on textured paper and ones in which very pale colours or white form the main part of the content. The latter is one of the reasons that photographs should not be scanned with any of the scanner’s automatic filters on (most scanners have a ‘professional’ or similar setting in which these auto-features can be turned off, but the default settings are usually with them on), as too much brightness can wash out most of the detail in light areas (such as lace, or slight shadows in a blouse that show its shape) and too much shadow can similarly knock out detail in darkened areas.

The photo above – which is on textured paper – was shot in a normal studio setting but the surround was then deliberately washed-out by the printer, and the child is wearing a pale dress with white socks. Added to that, while the quality of the print isn’t bad, it is a bit faded and needed more contrast between the shadows and mid-tones, without affecting the highlights too much. That posed a problem because using my usual techniques on this photo would have darkened the child’s face too much.

So I decided to remove the colour from the background, do a slight tint on the dress, socks and shoes, bracelet-chain and chair, and then colour the child’s skin, eyes, lips and hair. Then, apart from ensuring that there was enough balance between the tonalities, I left the rest of it alone.  As usual, I’ve avoided adding extra colour to the cheeks. If you haven’t already, you can read my reasoning in my post Little Roselyne.

I picked out some of the detail in the dress by adding extra white. I had wondered about adding extra colour to the flowers – perhaps some pink or peach – but decided it might be overdoing it.

The dress is not a pure white – if you look at it (click on the images a couple of times to see it larger, it’ll open in a separate window or tab) you’ll see it’s actually two or more layers of fabric – embroidery on a translucent fabric with broad lace edgings plus one or two more fabrics beneath those. The petticoat looks to me like it might be crochet or broderie anglaise. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about fabrics could tell me?

I do note that the embroidery includes the traditional cabbage-roses that have been around as part of fabric designs for a very long time.

On the back of the card is the name of the photographer:

T. Taylor, 77 Standish Street, Burnley. I had a look online and this photographer is mentioned a few times. One person refers to his family having had photos taken there between the 1930s and 1950s, but most of the entries date him in the 1930s, so I’ll assume this child is from that sort of period, possibly a bit later.

77 Standish Street now seems to be the site of Mama Jo’s (look like a takeaway food place). Click, drag and zoom inside the Google Maps streetview image to navigate inside it:

Aside from all that – isn’t she a sweet little girl? I wish I knew who she was, or, if she’s still going strong, who she is.