retouching family photos

I have been researching my family history for over 14 years now and have received some very old and battered photos from family members on various branches of your BUCK tree. It is always a great delight when they come to light as it appears no-one in the immediate family owned a camera until well into the late-1930s. Very early images are rare and they are all professional studio shots or taken by freelance street photographers.

My grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974) served at Gallipoli in WWI, [you can read more about him here]. I was frustrated for many years that I could not find anyone in our large family who had a photo of him in uniform.

At our family reunion in 2006 I was chatting with my cousin Peter and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a small, faded and very scuffed photo of an Aussie soldier. I was over-the-moon to see it was signed E. C. BUCK. Woohoo! I was dancing around like a crazy lady.

Peter allowed me to take a high-resolution scan of his tiny original and I decided to create a portrait in honour of Private Ernest Clive BUCK, that I could frame and give to each of his children and grandchildren.

Thanks to my career as a graphic designer, working on complex photo retouching projects, I have the skills I need to bring my grandfather’s portrait to life. I set to work in Photoshop, adjusting tones, layering, recreating sections of his uniform and slouch hat, replacing the background and finally hand-colouring his portrait. This project took over 16 hours to complete. It’s unfortunate that the bottom of the image was so damaged that I had to sacrifice the signature, but the new proportions suit a standard 6×8 photo frame.

Buck_EC_1914_Original_Retouch

Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1914 – most likely taken in Sydney, Australia shortly after he enlisted and received his army uniform.

A couple of years ago my cousin Chris sent me a scan of this torn and battered photo he was given by our grandfather Ernest. Here is Private Ernest Clive Buck taken about 6 months after the one above, I think he posed for this photo when he was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in Cairo on training manoeuvres in early 1915.

I retouched the large creases and scratches and the missing top corner, but decided to keep the age and character in this photo, so I retained the battered frame edges.

Buck_EC_1915_Original_Retouch

Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1915 – possibly taken in Cairo, Egypt before embarking for Gallipoli during WWI.

Next is a portrait of the BUCK family on holiday at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in about 1915 or 1916. They are Ernest BUCK’s mother, brothers and sisters and friends. I believe it was taken by a street photographer who touted for business in vacation towns. He would have set-up his large format camera on a tripod in the street, taken the family’s portrait for a fee, and then sent them the prints by post.

This image was scanned from a modern colour 4×6 print owned by Honour Stroud, a cousin of my father. I don’t know if the badly cracked and discoloured original still exists. It would be interesting to see if the original has any photographer’s details on the back.

I spent about four hours working on fixing this photo, it was quite tricky repairing the large cracks running through faces.

Buck_Family_Katoomba_original_retouch

Buck family at Katoomba circa 1915-1916 – Back L-R: William Buck, Ida Buck, a friend Lizzie Malloy, Jessie G Earls (Buck), far right back – Honor Stretton (formally Buck, nee Sutton). Front L-R: Bertha Legge (Buck), Jessie’s husband Arthur Earls, William’s wife Sadie, and Bertha’s husband Byron Legge.

The last image was emailed to me a few years ago by my second cousin, John Archer. This appears to have been taken in a family backyard in about 1926 using a hand-held Kodak Box Brownie camera or similar. It is a portrait of the daughters, daughters-in-law and two granddaughters of Robert BUCK and Honor SUTTON. Ida, Jessie, Bertha and Sadie are also in the photo above.

The only retouching I did to this image was adjusting the brightness and contrast, fixing a few scratch marks and recreating the section of brick wall and wooden fence at the torn right-hand corner.

Taken at one of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings, unknown, Bertha Legge, Sadie Buck, Ida Archer, Agnes Earls; Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls, Betty Hastings. If you can fill in any of the “unknown” names, that would be appreciated.

One of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters, circa 1926 – (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings (Eggins), unknown, Bertha Legge (Buck), Sadie Buck (Roberts), Ida Archer (Buck), Agnes Earls (Buck); Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls (Buck), Betty Hastings.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Original Photo Sources: Peter Stroud, Christopher Landers, Honor Stroud, John Archer. Retouched images by Susan Buck – I am happy to provide family members with high-resolution digital images of any of these photos for their family albums.

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3 thoughts on “retouching family photos

  1. Thanks Susan,

    You have a done a great job with these photos. I enjoy reading your updates when I have time. You have certainly spent a lot of time doing your research and putting things together. Thanks for all your efforts. If you have time I would love to receive copies of the images.

    Hope all is well with you and Uncle Tom. Pls pass our best wishes on to him.

    Cheers

    K

    Kay Pell

    “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before” quote by Mae West

    • Thanks Kay, I’m glad to know you enjoy my family history stories. I wish I was more dedicated and managed to write something each week, so many half-baked ideas in the oven and lots more not even begun.
      I will certainly send you copies of the photos. Dad and the clan at Gorokan are well.
      I hope your family are in good health, would love to come up and visit you in Armidale sometime this winter. Best wishes Susan x

  2. The last photo especially join us in the family. I used to walk from Wiley Park Girls’ High School and have afternoon tea with Aunty Agnes. That was in the mid 50’s. I also remember Aunty May (Mabel Hastings). The funny story about Mabel Eggins is that I had contact from John Eggins in England thinking he had found his long lost aunt. When he asked me what ship did she arrive in Australia on, he was saddened to find it wasn’t his Aunty Mabel but we still keep in touch at Christmas.

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