Friday, June 20, 2014

Fishing / Fish Fry / Getting the Story

Net Fishing - 1911
Net Fishing - 1911

The above image is is an example of the front side of photo post cards in my grandmother's Post Card album. As can be seen, the postcards have typically yellowed with age - after all they are a century old and have not been stored in what would be considered the best of conditions.

There is no writing on the backs the two postcards being presented in this post, so I will explore what stories the two pictures have to tell. In addition, I am taking this opportunity to illustrate how I scan postcard pictures to extract the "best" images and stories the post cards have to offer.

Borders and Croppings

For this illustration, I did not crop off the borders while doing the initial scan. The dark border on this picture seems to be distinctive of the photo postcards sent from relatives in Nebraska and is often the only indication of where the post card may have originated if the card has no postmark.

Many snapshots have been taken at such a large distance from the subject that the real story is almost lost in the background. I typically use the scanner preview to zoom in on the photo story and crop off the extraneous area.

Net Fishing - 1911 - Cropped
Net Fishing - 1911 - Cropped

Here we see two men fishing with a net. True, we do not see the surroundings to get a feeling if this is a lake or stream. In actuality, I would have first just lopped off the border and a little more for the initial presentation of the postcard picture. Later, I would have shown this more highly zoomed, cropped image in telling the story. I cannot see if this picture shows a stream or a lake. Can you? Possibly it is a small steam/creek that has overflown its banks? Does it make a difference to the story?

Conversion to Black and White

As a part of the scan preview, I check if restoring the image to black and white improves the story. This is done by selecting the color restore option and setting the saturation to 0. The color restore option alone does create a mostly black and white picture but typically leaves some color and weird color fringes. Removing the color saturation kills all remaining color.  I would have thought just reducing the color saturation would have been adequate, but I have found the two adjustments together seem to give a slightly better image.

Net Fishing - 1911 -  Cropped and Converted
Net Fishing - 1911 -  Cropped and Restored
In this case, restoring to black and white did not make an apparent improvement for telling the story.  But in many images, restoring to black and white appears to me to make a significant difference in the detail shown. Dust and other defects are more emphasized in the black and white image - They are in the color image but are not as visually pronounced.

If we zoom in on the shoes on the bank, we see what appears to be two shoes from one of the fishermen.

Where Oh Where Have My Shoes Gone?
Where Oh Where Have My Shoes Gone?

And, in between the shoes is what looks like a rock holding something down.  Maybe there is a breeze and the rock has been placed there to keep the fisherman's socks and/or cap from blowing away  - who knows?

Fish Fry

The second post card appears to be of a fish fry taking place after the net fishing shown in the first post card was completed. 

Fish Fry - 1911
Fish Fry - 1911

The picture on this postcard has the same characteristic border as the border on the previous post card.  Also, two men with what a net having the same end poles as in the first postcard appear in this picture. So, I feel that this postcard is from a Nebraska relative and goes with the first postcard and is taken on the same day as the first post card.

Normally, I would immediately crop this postcard's picture to show the main point of interest: - the fish fry.

Fish Fry - 1911 - Cropped

I feel that this cropped image captures the overall picture story without the extraneous surrounding foliage and sky. The restored black and white image looks like:

Fish Fry - 1911 - Cropped and Converted
Fish Fry - 1911 - Cropped and Converted

I did not recognize any individuals in this picture but did zoom in on items that caught my interest.  The two men (on the left and right hand sides of the picture) appear to be showing off their fishing net. Or, are they just keeping the crowd from hurting themselves on the fish fry stove?

Fisherman - Left
Fisherman - Left
Fisherman - Right
Fisherman - Right
In the center of the picture are two fry pans.  On the left of the pans are several jugs. And, in the background through the net we can see two umbrellas. Were the umbrellas needed to provide shade from the sun or was rain expected?

Fry Pans
Fry Pans

In front of the fry pans are two bottles.  A zoom in on the bottles to see what they contain gives:

Bottles - Limit of Resolution
Bottles - Limit of Resolution

Looks like we have reached the limit of the photographic resolution of the image on the postcard.

Zooming in on the box with the cloth on top in front of the fisherman on the right side of the picture, gives:

What's In The Box?
What's In The Box?
I thought I could see a word on the side of the box - possibly starting with the letter D.  Could the word be DYNAMITE?  Have these fishermen cheated a bit?

After playing with the scanner color adjustments,

Not Dynamite
Not Dynamite
I still could not make out the word, but the second letter appears to be a W.

I am now guessing that the box and the adjacent jug contain liquid refreshments for the fish fry - A cooler possibly containing bottles of beer and sarsaparilla along with a jug of hard liquor on the side, LOL.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  As you can see, I am having fun with conserving and interpreting the pictures in my grandmother's Post Card album.  Future posts will not go into this much detail about getting the story.

Just the story! Just the story!