I’m super excited to share today’s post with you.
Last week, I told you there would be a big surprise. HERE IT IS. Val Erde of Colouring the Past chose this photo to bring to life. Her research, talent and artistry literally brought tears to my eyes. It felt like the next best thing to actually being there behind the camera lens.
In this post I’ll give you 2 views of it.
If you’re new to my site and would like to see the history of this picture, and my discovery of my uncle’s secret life as a commando spy, I invite you to check out The James Bonds of Chinatown and Force 136 goes to London.
From B&W to colour and back again
I just love this slideshow – it’s like the Wizard of Oz when Judy leaves bleak, black and white Kansas and steps into the magical land of Oz. As much as I love black and white photography, Val’s rendering of the colours make the contrast of the lighter-coloured elements stand out. For example, I didn’t realize everyone – Dick, Willie, Herbie, Leonard and Bud – is smoking.
Here are both photos again, before and after.
And here is a picture of that same corner – the intersection of Wimpole and Cavendish Street.
I feel incredibly awed and grateful to be gifted with the memories of my family. Without these collections of photos, most of these stories would be lost to history. Scanning an archive is a painstaking, time-consuming task, but in my view the effort is more than worth the results. If you’d like to learn more about how I did it and the lessons I learned along the way, here’s a story about my first archiving project in 2013.
As well, a huge shout out of appreciation to Val Erde, whose work is featured here. Literally, she has given me an entirely new way of looking at the past.
I thought you might like to see just how small some of these photos are. By scanning them at very high resolution, we are able to see details that escape the naked eye. In some ways it’s like we are seeing them for the first time.
It’s my honour to have connected with some of the descendants and friends of Herbie Lim, Willie Chong, and Leonard Lee. I’d still like to find information about Bud Quon. If you are connected to any of these men, I’d love to hear from you.
What do you think? Do you have some old photos buried in a shoebox under the bed? It might be time to dust them off and see them again thanks to flatbed scanners and some sympathetic post-processing.