March 19, 2014
Restoring a faded and yellowed photograph from Hawaii’s past
By: Michele Gamble
I recently purchased this yellowed and faded photograph at Alan’s Antique Shop on Bay Front in Hilo. I got it because it depicts a boy’s day celebration on one of the sugar plantations. Unfortunately Allen did not know who the family was or which plantation camp the photo was taken, basically nothing about the photo. So I shelled out $5 for the photo and came home to work my magic.
The second photo is after about 3 hours of color correction and adjustments. Wow, right? I am always amazed what I can pull out of an old photo. So even if you think you have a ruined photograph, never give up hope. It is always likely you can salvage the image. But, like I said, this one amazed me.
So I enlarged areas and was even more amazed. The central family looks fabulous, Mom in her Kimono and dad holding the honored son. Look, it took a while to get a boy, how proud he must have been that day. The boy is draped in a formal kimono, complete with Mon, family crests (those are the white dots) and crashing waves for strength. The girls are looking pretty fine too, see the one holding her purse? And two dogs! Gotta love the Chesterfields Cigarettes poster clinging to the building in the background. That building, given it’s size and location, was likely the bath house that held the community furo (bath).
The group on the left side had some surprises as well. There’s a man sitting on the railing with his leg on the hand rail, slipper about to fall off. Look what he is holding! A photo of, I think, a string of carp from another boys day. Cool. The girls are cute. Doesn’t one look upset not to be in the center of the photo, she was probably told to stay on the lanai. The other girls seems giddy, she must know she IS in the photo and happy about it. Maybe families took turns getting their photo taken under the banner. On the plantations, ethnic groups tended to stick together. So this is probably an all Japanese camp.
Last, I’ve included a detail of the warrior banner the family was flying. It shows two samurai on horseback. See them?
I have several that are similar that I fly during Boy’s day (May 5, I’ve included a photo for you.)
Overall, well worth the $5 and three hours work don’t you think? I can’t wait to take it back and show Alan. Maybe we’ll be able to figure out where this old plantation photograph was taken.