Man Discovers 100-Year-Old Negatives, Uses Photoshop to “Develop” Them

Using a combination of old-fashioned know-how and technology, a man from the UK was able to bring 100-year-old negatives to life. Greg Pack of Essex, England was rummaging through items at a car boot sale, looking for old clocks, when he came upon a wood box. The 70-year-old man is a retired graphic artist who used to work in print and quickly spotted some items in the box that caught his eye.

Peering inside, he saw a bunch of glass negatives and was surprised by the good condition they appeared to be in. “I used to work with negatives and these looked quite good,” he told ITV. After paying £4 (about $5) for the box of 18 negatives, he decided to see if he could coax out the images. After an attempt to scan them failed, he used some new technology—an iPhone and Photoshop.

“I held the glass negative to the sky, took a picture with my iPhone then turned it into a positive,” said Pack. And the results were better than he could have hoped. Before his eyes, he saw family photographs—from a little girl in a frilly white dress getting a piggyback ride to what appears to be a young couple posing for a portrait on a lawn with the man dressed in military attire.

Now that he had the photos, Pack's next task is to try and discover more about the mysterious characters in the images. A handwritten list pasted on the lid of the box details a number of locations, some of them in France. Pack is still on the hunt to discover more, with a lot of help from the internet.

Pack's son Scott sent out a series of Tweets detailing his father's discovery, which have quickly gone viral. Now, he's not only speaking to journalists across the UK, but getting help from others to decipher the imagery. Sleuths were quick to point out that, based on how people were dressed, the photos could date between 1903 and 1913.

For Pack, the discovery was an emotional one, and he's hoping to get the images reunited with their family if possible. “I have always loved old photos and I found it very sad that they were being sold for a fiver at a boot sale when they should be with a family as treasured heirlooms,” he said. “I think it's really sad it's not with the family. Honestly, it was emotional when I first saw these people. There they are, a second in their lives more than 100 years ago, and here I am looking at them in 2018.”

Greg Pack came upon a box full of glass negatives at a flea market and was curious enough to bring them home.

He digitally “developed” them using his iPhone and Photoshop.

Now the Packs are trying to figure out who could be in the 100-year-old images.

Thanks to Pack's son Scott, who Tweeted the story, they've received lots of input about the photos.

And, to his delight, Pack has become a minor celebrity due to the story.

Now we'll just have to stay tuned to see what they discover about the photos.

h/t: [Bored Panda]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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