Some new old photos (but are they any good?)
We'll start with some photos and postcards I bought last month. Then as I've been arguing with the book designer about what makes a good photo, we'll take a look at that too.
The seven photos are all the small type that were typically sold to tourists to go in to their photo album. In this case I don't see any sign that the photos were mounted, so the original owner probably just kept them loose. (As always, you can click on any photo to see a larger copy you can zoom in to.)
The group also includes two postcards.
So, which of these are any good?
The designer who is currently working on the layout of the Gwulo book complains that several of the images I've given her are 'too fuzzy', and aren't suitable for printing. These unsuitable images are blown-up areas of a larger photo that show some detail I want to write about.
How well would this set of photos blow up? Compare the postcard with the small photo showing the view from the harbour.
I guess the designer would find the view from the harbour getting fuzzy around the 2x blow up, but would be ok with the larger Al fresco postcard up to around a 4x blow up.
It's not surprising that the postcard blows up better, as it's around twice the size of the small photo. So when looking for an old photo to blow up, bigger is usually better. Except...
Apart from the size of a print, we also need to consider how it was printed. The black & white pictures in this set were all printed using a photographic process, but the colour postcard was printed on a printing press. It is an attractive view, but we can't blow it up very much before we see the coloured dots that were used during printing.
We can even see significant differences in blow-upability within a single photo. The photo of the public gardens is a good example.
I've blown up a building from the centre, and three people from the bottom of the photo. Camera lenses give their best results in the centre of the photo so the building is quite sharp. But as you can see the edges capture less detail and don't blow up as well. The three people at the bottom of the photo are just a blur.
Learning to live with fuzzy photos
If we want to print a typical coffee-table photo book, we'll certainly need to stick to large photos that will blow up well, and look sharp when printed. But that isn't the book I have in mind.
I want to show readers the clues I've found in a photo, even if that means accepting a bit of fuzziness. Often I'm grateful to see the clue at all, and don't mind that the blown-up detail isn't super-sharp. So I've replied to the designer that she's absolutely right, some of the blown up photos aren't very clear. But that it doesn't matter.
I haven't convinced the designer yet, and I'm not sure I will. But I'm hoping readers will understand.
An example of a fuzzy clue
Where was the Al fresco postcard taken?
When I first saw this postcard for sale, I was struck by the how similar the subject and style are to another card I bought a few years ago:
We worked out the location for that postcard was Happy Valley, from the fuzzy tower at top-right.
The same tower is shown in the Al fresco postcard, so it was also taken at Happy Valley.
Trivia: These photos and postcards all came from a seller in Finland. I wonder how they ended up there?
New on Gwulo this week...
If you can leave a comment with any more information about these, it will be gratefully received.
Some of the new photos added this week:
Click to see all recently added photos.