A 1960s European Vacation

St Gothard PassmotorcyclistI’VE BEEN scanning some old 35mm colour slides for a friend and I’m fascinated as always by the period detail. The motorcyclist in the plus-fours at the St Gothard Pass for example.

My friend’s father, Jack, was an engineer and as a young man between the wars he’d got a secondhand sports car into reliable working order and set off and toured the continent so, after World War II he set off again with his young family.

By this time he was running a garage and he’d become a dealer for Standard Vanguard cars. This appears to be a 1956 Standard Vanguard III

St Gothard Pass
St Gothard Pass

You get a sense of it still being quite an adventure to tour the continent from his Agfacolor transparencies. St Marks in Venice and the Forum in Rome look amazingly quiet.

This slide is captioned 'On the road' - one of the Italian lakes perhaps?
This slide is captioned ‘On the road’ – one of the Italian lakes perhaps?

The little coach conjures up another era of travel. It wouldn’t look out of place in a Fellini film. Or The Italian Job.

German newsagents

 This shop – a photographer’s and newsagents? – appears in the foreground of an Austrian or German painted house which Jack had photographed.

The row of potted geraniums on the windowsill, the portrait in the shop window, the bicycle, the lettering over the shop and the mystery man in grey are the kind of plain, literal details that you might meet in a Tintin story of the same vintage.

I’ve used the poster edges filter in Photoshop to flatten the colour but I’d really like to try redrawing some of these scenes in comic book format.

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  1. Very interesting. I’m also interested know know what equipment you are using to scan the slides. We’re behind the power curve for equipment but still have 10’s of thousands of slide we “should” scan.

    1. Yes, we’ve got thousands stacked away too, if I hadn’t had just one box of the European holiday slides on loan for a few weeks, it would have been hard to make a start, too overwhelming. Perhaps I should borrow our family slides from my mum just a box at a time and have a go at them.
      I use a CanoScan 8800F flatbed scanner which has a light in the lid for scanning slides and negatives, plus various holders for the different sizes. You can do four slides at a time and they’re easier to insert than the large format negatives that I’ve previously scanned which can be rather curly and more variable in quality.
      As always, the temptation is to spend a lot of time getting rid of spots and blemishes. I’m gradually learning various tricks and tips for retouching, but I realise it’s easy to overdo it.
      This CanoScan came with a program called Silverlight which supposedly helps in getting the right colour balance when you scan particular kinds of film such as Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Agfa etc, but I haven’t really got into that, I just tweak the colour and contrast by guess in Photoshop.

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