Behind the Scenes

A picture paints a thousand words“, and one of the aims of this website is to provide where possible, an archive of pictures that have been painstakingly restored to their original pristine condition. Many of the pictures I have managed to unearth however, show signs of being over fifty years old. I have had to work with paper distortion, coffee cup rings, scratches, creases and even writing across the face.

The 1968 intake group photo had a number of damaged areas. Graham Coleman’s face, for example, was badly scarred and yet looks perfect here. How?


Faces have the advantage of being symetrical. The undamaged side of the face therefore provided the perfect patch once cut out and horizontally inverted. After a small amount of careful rubbing out around the edge of the patch and a bit of smoothing, the face is as good as new. The rest of the scratch is covered with a simpler patch taken from the rest of the background, using a ‘cloud’ shape rather than a sharp rectangle because the human eye is remarkably good at detecting straight lines of repair. Finally, some filtering is applied to sharpen and clean the image and a hue is applied to give it a very faint, warm, cepia type effect. The whole process is done at exactly twice full size and reduced again on completion.

colour75.jpgIt is even possible to convert black and white photos into a colour one although it is a time consuming process. This example shows a brief extract of the same 1968 intake photo.

This is used very sparingly however, because a colourized picture can look a little artificial making it far less effective than the original monochrome.

In some cases, the original pictures are so poor that they can only provide a framework for the restored picture. In this picture of the original grammar school, still standing in Friar’s Walk, the original image from the BGS website has little hope of being restored because there is simply too little to work with.


Using the original as a template, texture is carefully added. The sky, for example, is cut out to reveal the sky placed underneath from a completely different picture. In the same way, some of the pictures on this website never even actually existed! They have been constructed from the best available photo source. In one instance for example, a master’s head has been stuck onto a different body because no suitable picture could be found.


Website by Kevin Gallagher