Breathing new life into an old photograph

I thought i’d try out a photo restoration service to see if it could breathe new life into an old WWI photograph of my Gt Grandfather – here’s the results!

You might remember that during my 2015 Genealogy Resolutions, I aimed to grow my collection of family photographs.

The up-shot of that is that I have about a dozen old original photos that are creased, flaking, distorted, torn – I’m sure I’m not alone in having these. I also have a few that are modern prints of damaged photographs – where I’ve been able to temporarily borrow a photo to copy it.

Each one of these is just that little bit imperfect that it doesn’t quite make the grade when it comes to enlarging, printing or framing.

As the new year chimed in, I received an email out of the blue from Pick Nick Photo Restoration Services, in Kent, here in the UK.

Pick Nick Photo Restoration Services logo

I’d not really prioritised my photo restoration, as I can meander my way around the likes of Photoshop okay-ish and have made some improvements to the lesser-damaged images in the past, but nothing too adventurous. I think I’d mentally filed the more damaged images in my ‘to-do’ file… you know, the one that must be huge and probably has a 10yr waiting list. That one.

Trying out a photo restoration service

So, on the offer of a freebie, I thought that I’d give it a go. Why not? I get a photo repaired and Pick Nick gets a photo to show off in their portfolio. Everyone’s happy.

So, let’s take a look at the original – this is a photograph of my Great Grandfather, Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey. He served as a Private in the First World War, with The Suffolk Regiment, The Royal Munster Regiment, and The Royal Irish Fusiliers, and saw action in Gallipoli.

Pte Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey on horse (before)
BEFORE: My Great Grandfather Pte Ernest Dewey on a horse during the First World War. Photo: Andrew Martin.

…and within a few days, I received an email back from Pick Nick with the photo restoration job done.

Pte Ernest Dewey on horse - after photo restoration by Pick Nick
ABOVE: My Great Grandfather’s WWI photo looks as good as new after Pick Nick’s restoration (the watermark is purely to protect this image online – i have one without).

I’m really impressed at the result. The photo is much crisper and the sepia level is less aggressive, but those creases have been removed, and the missing bits of the photo that have long since flaked away, have been replaced – seamlessly returned to their rightful place about 100 years since the photograph was first taken.

To feed my curiosity (I’m never one to shy away from such nerdery), Pick Nick sent me a video link that shows the photo restoration done in 3 minutes. From my own dabbling experience, I know it would have taken hours rather than the 3 minutes to do – it’s a very tricky art to master!

So, bringing new life to an old photo has inspired me to rummage and find some more photos that could do with a new lease of life in 2016.

For now though, I definitely know who to recommend if I’m looking for someone to restore my old photos in future.

Wordless Wednesday – posing in 1953 and 1973

Wordless Wednesday: Both sets of maternal Great Grandparents pose in 1953 and then again in the same formation, 20 years later in 1973.

Barber and Dewey great grandparents pose for a photo in 1953
Both sets of Maternal Great Grandparents in 1953…
Ernest and Maude Barber, with Susan and Ernest Dewey, at the wedding of their granddaughter Glenda Ann Dewey to Stephen Leslie Martin at Witchford, 1973.
and by complete serendipity, they pose in the same order 20 years later, in 1973.

Wedding Wednesday – 1925

This week for Wedding Wednesday, I’ve gone back to 1925, to the wedding of my Great Grandparents Ernest Dewey and Susan Moden at Ely, Cambridgeshire.

This week’s Wedding Wednesday blog post, visits Ely in 1925, when my Great Grandparents were married.

After a nine year courtship, that reached back from November 1925, and into the First World War, Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey and Susan Jane Moden were wed at St Mary’s Church.

I’ve only stumbled across two photographs from this wedding, and neither of these show the bride or groom.

Here’s the first photograph – in very poor condition – showing their bridesmaids and the best man.

Bridesmaids Gladys (left) and Grace (right) with the mystery Best Man (centre).
Bridesmaids Gladys (left) and Grace (right) with the mystery Best Man (centre).

Their bridesmaids were Ernest’s cousin Gladys Anderson, and Susan’s younger sister Grace Violet Moden. Here is the other photograph, which has clearly been better looked after.

Gladys Anderson and Grace Moden in 1925
Gladys Anderson and Grace Moden in 1925

The best man is currently nameless, but a newspaper check should hopefully reveal his identity.

Ernest had many brothers, and Susan had just one. This man could easily be any one of those siblings (as was seemingly often done in this part of the family), or someone entirely different.

Wedding Wednesday – 1953

The first of my Wedding Wednesday blog series, travels back to the sleepy village of Wentworth, Cambridgeshire in 1953.

In the first of my Wedding Wednesday blog series, I’ve decided to travel back to 1953, when my maternal grandparents walked the aisle during April.

In the tiny village of Wentworth, my grandparents married. My grandfather being 21 and my grandmother being 20.

Here’s the final moments of my grandmother as a single woman, on the arm of her father. She was his only child.

Pamela and father Ernest Herbert Barber 1953

And a little bit later, the happy couple emerge. Kudos to my grandfather there for that severe ‘short-back and sides’ look.

The happy couple

And here are the bridesmaids in line.

Pamela Barber's bridesmaids

Some of the wedding party, which includes my Grandparents, Great Uncle, Great Grandparents, and Great Great Grandmothers.

Wedding Family Group

The proud parents – my Great Grandparents – (L-R) Ernest Herbert and Maude Barber, with Susan Jane and Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey.

Parents at wedding

Finally, Starr & Rignall (a popular photographer’s studio) produced a series of colourised versions of some of the photos. Here’s one of them to give you an idea of the dresses.

Colourised 1953 Wedding Group

In Pictures: Father’s Day

Celebrating Father’s Day 2013 this weekend – check out my photo gallery of 14 of my ancestral fathers.

It’s Father’s Day here in the UK this Sunday, so in the same way that I marked Mother’s Day with a photo gallery, I thought that I would do the same for my paternal and maternal fathers.

Interestingly, there are fewer photographs of my male ancestors. This will of course be down to one or two instances where illegitimacy leaves them absent, but maybe the luxury of late-19th and early-20th century meant photography was only afforded for their wives?

Paternal Fathers

Maternal Fathers

Happy Father’s Day!

Remembrance 2011

Remembrance 2011 – remembering the brave and heroic who fought and who were lost in war.

I get completely tongue-tied when it comes to writing about war and Remembrance. So instead, here’s some photographs of a few of my relatives. Some of whom made it, others who weren’t so lucky.

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey - 1st World War

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Albert Martin (1899-1918)

Owen Newman (1919-1944)

Herbert Martin (1884-1917)

Herbert Martin's gravestone

Owen Yarrow (1882-1917)

Owen Yarrow

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey

Remembrance: Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991).

Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)
Ernest Edward Thomas Dewey (1896-1991)

Ernest lied about his age in order to sign up to the Suffolk Yeomanry

Ernest was a year younger than was permitted – a scenario which was actually quite common amongst men who were keen to fight for their country.

He fought in the First World War and travelled to France and Egypt whilst part of the Yeomanry.

Unlike so many of his comrades, he survived the First World War and went on to live until he was 94 years old.

Due to his work with the Yeomanry, he married after an 11 year courtship to Susan Jane Moden of Ely.