I became interested in photography and started learning about 35mm film photography as a teenager, long before I went to study photography and subsequently became a professional photographer. I’ve got a huge collection of 35mm negatives — dating back to the first roll of film I shot — and whilst I have very carefully looked after my negatives in recent years, the teenage version of myself was a little impatient and careless. My older negatives now contain a lot of dust marks and scratches, but they are very dear to me because of the memories recorded on them, so I have recently started going through my archive and retouching these images, so I can share them with my family.
Retouching photographs is a very rewarding process — and when you use the correct tools for the job, it does not need to be time-consuming or difficult! And that’s how this class came about!
Southwold on a Stormy Day
‘Southwold on a stormy day’ is one of my favourite images of Southwold; you can see the entire beachfront — including the lighthouse and pier — on a less than perfect stormy day. The weather was grey and miserable, but I was able to capture the waves crashing as they approach the shoreline. This photograph was unfortunately in very bad condition, there was a huge number of watermarks, dust and scratches covering literally every inch of its surface.
Walberswick Village Green
Somehow our walks always seems to go through Walberwick and back via the ferryman at Southwold Harbour, so I’m surprised I do not have more photographs of this quaint little English seaside village. I took this photograph of the village sign — erect on the green — sometime in September 2002–3. It had a fairly large amount of dust and several large scratches running through the image from where the negative was manhandled with a darkroom squeegee! The Healing Brush was used to deal with most of these marks, but the Clone Stamp tool and its rotation feature had to be used to restore several key parts of this image.
Looking Down Walberswick Beach
I took this photograph looking down Walberswick beach towards the ancient and now largely abandoned town of Dunwich, it was something about the light and the scene which caught my eye. This negative had some rather ugly water marks in the sky from where the hard water we have in these parts dried and adhered itself to the negatives. To remove these marks I had to use the Patch tool, having first dealt with all the dust marks using the Spot Healing and Healing Brush tools.
Dunwich beach looking north from Dunwich Heath, all this picture really shows is how little of Dunwich, this now small village was once the capital of the Anglo-Saxon East Anglian kingdom before being taken over by the Danes. To restore this image I had to remove a large amount of dust using the Spot Healing and Healing Brush tools.
Claire on the Rocks
One of our favourite walks was up Southwold beach, past Easton Bavents and onwards towards Covehithe. At Easton Bavents — where several houses proudly stood on top of the cliffs in their forlorn battle again coastal erosion — at the base of the cliff was an array of concrete sea defences on which I took this portrait of my little sister Claire. This photo had a lot of very fine dust marks , which were difficult to see because of the concrete texture.
Windswept Tree at Covehithe
Covehithe’s windswept and slightly desolate feel always caught my eye, nature has a particular way with materials on this part of England’s North Sea coast, everything is in a constant state of change as weather, time and the salty air slowly eat away at all before it. One year whilst exploring I came across this tree, long dead and dried into an almost alien looking sculpture. I simply love the shape, texture and lines in this photograph. To restore the image to it’s former glory I had to remove all of the dust marks and then use the Curves tool to make the image a little punchier!
Southwold Boat Race
Every year we’d have a family boat race at the Southwold Boating Lakes. Unlike the rest of the images — which are black and white — I did not process this film, it was most likely machine-process at my local chemist and consequently had got a large number of fine scratches running through the image from the machine’s rollers. These marks typically do not show up in your average 5 x 7 print, but when scanned in high-resolution and enlarged they become all too visible. These marks along with all other dust marks had to be carefully removed using the Spot Healing and Healing Brush tools.
Hope you enjoyed these photographs and the stories behind them, and I cannot wait to see yours!