Charles Dicken’s London

A new book entitled ‘Charles Dickens’s London‘ has just been published by Ebury Press. I have yet to see it but this is what the product description says:

Over 200 stunning archive photographs, most of which have never been published before, illustrate this mesmerizing guide to Victorian London seen through the eyes of Charles Dickens. Setting Dickens against the city that was the backdrop and inspiration for his work, it takes the reader on a memorable and haunting journey, discovering the places and subjects which stimulated his imagination.

Here are captivating photographs of famous landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey, alongside coaching inns, the Thames before the Embankment was built, the construction of the Metropolitan Underground Line, the docklands that studded the river and the many villages that make up London today.

Authoritatively written and beautifully illustrated, this book will appeal to anyone who loves this beguiling city and wants to explore it as it was in Dickens’ day.

It looks like it could be a good addition on the photography front for those interested in Victorian London in general or just Dickens and his life. Although retailing at £25 you can get it from Amazon UK for £15.49.

I expect we will see many more books this year to mark the 200th anniversary so I will endeavour to keep us up to date.


My review of Lost London

Ever wondered what the late Victorian Era London really looked like?

Well this book will give you a very good idea.

Much that would’ve existed in Holmes London has either been pulled down or bombed out of existence by the Luftwaffe during world war two.

However Lost London 1870 – 1945 by Phillip Davies gives us a fascinating to the late Victorian era Lonodn with a collection of images that are second to none.

The lost buildings on streets of London show the deep poverty of the times which had led to a moral and social breakdown, some of the image are truly shocking when you consider that people actually lived in some of the wrecks.

It is also a reminder how the somewhat ruthless Victorian planners swept away vast tracts of London’s past. The loss of our Georgian, Shakespearean and medieval heritage is sad but the grand huge buildings that replaced that era had to imprint the new imperial status of Great Britain, and Britain for a short time was indeed great.

For those that live in London this excellent book, filled to the brim with beautifully reproduced mono-graphic images of London, our capital City that looks somewhat familar and at the same time not.

You can pick this tome for about £20 on Amazon or…its a fascinating study.

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Transatlantic Press (1 Sep 2009)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0955794986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955794988
  • Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 25 x 4 cm

Photographic digitizing, conservation and cleaning

I am rather fortunate to have some very old photos of my family such as Great grandmother Symmonds seen above.

This is a portrait photograph taken in a studio from about 1880.

As you can see this image has scratches, and Spotting. It is 130 years old and was kept in a cardboard box so we can’t really expect much more.

So is it easy to bring it back something near to it’s former glory?

The answer is yes…it takes a bit of practice but can be done cheaply and rather effectively I think.

Firstly DON’T scan photos, any photos and it pics up all sorts of dirt. It is actually better to take a photo of a photo in normal daylight with a good camera. I’m fortunate enough to be able to use a Canon 400d SLR, see if you can borrow a good camera to get a good copy.

Photoshop is a great program but with a rather high price tag of £250 (according to Amazon) and it is not an easy package to use.

So I would suggest Photofiltre, its a free piece of software and it just the job for a bit of photo editing or cleaning. You can see the before and after effect of my great grandmother above.

This is a screen shot and quick guide to the tools I usually use. Crop obviously allows to to re-size the image.

The clone to copies any pixel of the photo to anywhere else, so with the man in Fig 1. you can see I have cloned the same shades of grey and black to remove the lines that are on the original. Sometimes with edges you need to smooth them a touch and you can do this with the smudge tool and size adjustment…just practice and it will come.

Fig 1.

Fig 1.

Photography 186 years old

Photography is such a wonderful medium and of course has been used to document the most amazing things such as Man on the Moon to the most grisly of things such as the concentration camps of the Third Reich.

I am a photographer, only an amateur but the invent of the digital SLR and no processing in shops is great, not only that with software like Photoshop or photofiltre editing is a dream that first photographers such as Nicéphore Niépce could only of dreamt of.

View from the Window at Le Gras

View from the Window at Le Gras or in its native language ‘La cour du domaine du Gras’ was the first successful permanent photograph, created by Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. A quite incredible image really.

The image above was captured the photo with a camera obscura focused onto a sheet of 20 × 25 cm oil-treated bitumen.

It took an amazing 8-hour exposure to capture the image which is why the sunlight is captured on both sides of the building. Oddly the Royal Society saw little future in the process!

Thankfully though the rest of the world did and the Victorian world is documented (to a point).

A book that documented the tail end of The Victorian era is by the English Heritage:

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Lost London 1870 – 1945.

More than 500 spectacular unseen photographs of London, taken between 1875 and 1945, from the Archives of English Heritage. This unique archive shows Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian London before the major 20th century redevelopment. authoritative text by Philip Davies from English Heritage.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Transatlantic Press (1 Sep 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0955794986
ISBN-13: 978-0955794988
Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 25 x 4 cm

You can pick this up on Amazon for about £15 – £20 and I would highly recommend it.