This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Why the world didn't look the way you see it in museums


I hated museums when I was a kid. Everything was old, and cracked, and rusty, and well, disgusting. If I had given it any thought as a kid, I would have wondered why people back then used such horrible-looking stuff. Even their photos were all dull and dingy and cracked.

It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that it had to do with conservation. When your great-great-great-grandmother wore her wedding dress, it wasn't all horrible, aged, and old. It was brand new. And the photos that your uncle took on his vacation with a Polaroid weren't all faded, with the "Instagram Filter" color. Everything was new. The colors were vibrant.

I like to imagine the when everything was brand new. I like to imagine Phoenix when the Professional Building was brand new in 1931, when Valley Center (now Chase Tower) first opened in 1973. And since I'm an amateur collector, and I don't work at a museum, I can do something that they can't, and shouldn't, do. I can restore.

I'm not a historian, I'm a time-traveler. I have a digital collection of old photos. I do digital restoration, with respect. I don't "antique" old photos, nor do I try to make them look as if they were taken in the 21st Century. I've done a lot of research on photography, and what photographs looked like when they were new in the 20th, and 19th Century. I'm old enough to know what photos looked like when they were brand new in the 1970s, and for photography before my personal experience, there's a lot of documentation, going back to daguerreotypes and tintypes.

I'm a Photoshop guy, and I do gentle digital restoration. And because I'm an amateur historian, I allow myself to. Real conservation people wouldn't touch them. They wouldn't change the colors, they wouldn't do any corrections, anymore than they would fix the crack in the Liberty Bell, or straighten out the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And that's what they're supposed to do, make no mistake about that.

For me, as a time traveler, I became fascinated with Digital Restoration when I first started seeing Digitally Restored movies. I had gotten so used to seeing old, gritty, and scratched movies that the first time I ever saw Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" Digitally Restored, I was blown away. I just kept thinking that this is how Hitch saw it, and how his audience saw it, when it was brand new. And I want to see things the same way.

Image above: The Professional Building when it was brand new in the 1930s, southeast corner of Central Avenue and Monroe. Digitally-restored image.

Phoenix, Arizona Historical Images https://plus.google.com/+Bradhallart