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Old photos and the origins of Halloween

A Halloween approaches I wanted to see where its origins came from and how and when America got so wrapped up in it!

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All Hallows Day or All Saints day was introduced in 609 and was originally celebrated on the 13th May. It was moved to November the 1st to coincide with other days or remembrance of lost souls. All Saints now 1st November, All Souls Days 2nd November and now a new day All Hollows Eve a public holiday before the events.

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By the 12th century these 3 days had become holy days of obligation and involved traditions such as ringing bells for lost souls with the criers, dressed in black, walking the streets ring a bell for mourning the “poor souls”. Another custom of “Souling”, baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls was added to the list. The custom was found in parts of England and dates back at least as far as the 15th century. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Hallowmas, collecting soul cakes, originally as a means of praying for souls in purgatory.

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It’s easy to see where the full blown traditions of Halloween come from! It was not until the early 19th century when the mass Irish and Scottish immigration occurred, did it come to America. It took time to establish into the colourful celebration we know today.

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Below is an early manifestation of this from an old glass negative from the George Grantham Bain Collection

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origins of halloween in old photos Washington DC 1911

New York, November 1911. “Scramble for pennies — Thanksgiving.” Before Halloween came into its own as a holiday in this country, there was “Thanksgiving masking,” where kids would dress up and go door to door for apples, or “scramble for pennies.”

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Halloween movie night Washing DC, October 1920.

Halloween movie night Washing DC, October 1920. Image credit shorpy.com

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image credits “shorpy.com”

You’ll find hundreds of stereo typical images of Halloween on the web, these were two of the lesser know images i could find

Being one of the last to catch on to the Halloween celebrations, America has certainly made up for it today!
Article prepared with help from Wikipedia.org

GIMP vs Photoshop removing dust and splotches in a soft focus image

Gimp Versus Photoshop – Removing damage from a soft-focus photo
gimp_vs_photoshop

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For any budding restoration artist there are tools to help you do it yourself for FREE.  What are these? I hear you ask.

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Introducing GIMP, it is free tool that works a lot like the leading photo editor , Photoshop. – “GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages” – Quote from gimp.org

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Ive played with GIMP in the past but thought id try it again due to the version 2 release. For photo manipulation I have no doubt it has some very useful features for changing an image. It is a very powerful piece of software and clearly achieves amazing results.  For restoration purposes i tried to understand the interface and learn the skills needed to repair the dust and splotches from an image. To be honest i got frustrated and had no idea how to use it. I did not spend enough time getting to know the layouts, its so different from what i use. I jumped on the forums for some help. Patrick David who I bumped into on Google+ who knows his GIMP very well, kindly did a video for me on how to remove this damage. The video is below.

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GIMP is very capable software and yields excellent results, and its FREE! I then went on to explain the process in Photoshop.

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The reason why it works so quickly in Photoshop is that the image is not in sharp focus. This means the dust and scratch filter makes light work of removing a lot of the damage. The sharp edged damage  is easily distinguishable from the main image and easily separated for removal. In a sharp image where dust and scratches are no different from the actual image data, where they have the same sharpness and match the size and shape of the details within the image, a completely different approach would be needed. That will no doubt be another video.

 

Photo restoration on BBC Radio

Last night we were a guest on the Mark Forrest BBC Radio Evening Show!

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Mark Forrest a Radio presenter for BBC Radio has a talk show in the evenings on Monday night on all the BBC local Radio stations, from BBC Radio Berkshire right through to BB Radio York. I was invited to talk on the show about photo restoring and photo restorations. They had a topical evening of old WW2 war photography, old photos, recreating old photos and restoration.

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Image-Restore on the BBC Mark Forrest Evening Show Monday 23rd September 2013

Image-Restore on the BBC Mark Forrest Evening Show Monday 23rd September 2013

It not something i could turn down so i welcomed the chance to share a bit of image-restore cheer!

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I would like to thank Mark Forrest and the BBC for the invitation and opportunity to appear on his show.

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Thanks Mark!

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