No shaking required.

I finally got a scanner. Maybe the best $150 I’ve ever spent. It came bundled with photo editing software that destroys what I previously had access to. It’s so easy to scan things it’s ridiculous, and the quality keeps on surprising me. A lot of images actually look better once they’ve been scanned, and the ability to zoom in reveals details that were previously hidden. I will probably be posting about ten times more frequently than usual, because now I can add photos! Real photos of me and things that are not lifted from various places on the internet!

The anticipation, she is anticipatory.

Nothing to do with music, but it seems appropriate to me that these should be the first scanned images I post: pictures taken by my grandfather sometime around the 1960s, I think. I’m unsure if this is what Windsor used to look like, or if these were taken in different places as he traveled to acquire fabrics for West & Son, the women’s fabric store that was intended to be a long-running family business but died before I was born.

It’s a very long story. Suffice to say my great grandfather was a very rich, very successful businessman in Prague before he was forced to emigrate to Canada and change his last name to avoid being exterminated when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia. He owned more than a dozen stores and businesses in his homeland. Sometimes I wonder what it might have been like to grow up in Prague asking women what their bust measurements were so I could hand them the proper fabric.

Anyway, these pictures were taken with an old Polaroid camera. You can click on them for much better detail. They haven’t been retouched at all, and in some places you can see some grain or marks from age, but these pictures completely blow my mind. The man must have had some kind of eye, or the lighting conditions must have been just right, because I haven’t seen many Polaroid pictures from any era that are anywhere near this arresting.

Look at the people’s faces in the second shot. I love the different expressions, especially those of the man in the hat and the woman looking at the fabrics. Check out the detail on the buildings and billboards in the first shot. The advertisement for There’s a Girl in My Soup dates this shot to 1970. These are just a few of the hundreds of fascinating pictures that recently came into my possession. I could look at some of them all day.

3 comments

  1. wow, those pictures are amazing. i really like the colours and the blurriness/feeling in the third one. and the second one looks like it belongs in a museum.

    woo! new scannerness!

  2. I love these images…and I want to see all of them…what kind of tease was this post supposed to be? I have hundreds more…
    What?!
    I want to see ALL of them. Too much scanning though, I know.
    In that first picture, in the background on the left, the huge poster…it’s for Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace! Is that an add for the broadway musical version of the book?

    And having been to Manhattan half a dozen times, this looks like the side streets I love finding myself walking on…is that where these were taken?

  3. I’ll scan and post some more of my favourites in the next day or two just for you, Tom! I have a feeling I’ll be scanning a lot of things anyway. Just having album cover art for a few pages now is kind of surreal. It’s finally starting to look a little less like Halloween around here.

    What I meant was, I don’t have hundreds of pictures that are outside shots like this…some of them are just candid shots of people and things. Even a lot of those are really interesting to look at, though, or at least they are to me. Like the one I put up on the page for “Out-takes, Misfits, and Other Things”. All these interesting faces, and I have no idea who any of these people are or what they’re doing now. It continues to boggle my mind how he got so much detail and clarity from a Polaroid camera, in a time long before there was a such a thing as photo editing software to sharpen and touch things up after the fact.

    I’m not sure where these pictures were taken. Some things are dated and labeled, but most of the pictures aren’t, so I can only guess. Nice catch with “War and Peace”! There are still a lot of details I’ve yet to notice, because I’m used to seeing these pictures at about the size of a business card. It’s really something else to see them blown up like this. I don’t know if Grandpa West would even remember where some of these shots were taken anymore, though it can’t hurt to ask.

    What’s funny is, a few of the photo albums are the kind with paper slips that correspond to the photos, so you can fill in pertinent information without having to write on the image itself…but he didn’t write anything there! I’ve been looking around on the internet for info about the different stores or street addresses to figure out where these pics were taken, but so far no success. My guess about the date based on the ad for “There’s a Girl in My Soup” may very well be wrong too. My dad was at least able to find out that based on one of the stores the first picture was likely taken in New Jersey.

    And Smooryl — the woo is definitely being felt. I don’t know why I waited so long to get a scanner. Now I just need a decent digital camera and my blog of blarg will be fully image compliant.

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