In ‘Face Painting’, I featured a fete in Devon that we attended in 1985. Among the photographs published there are some of Sam having his face painted. My favourite series from that day are those of Louisa undergoing the same experience. I had been unable to include them because I had framed the Louisa images in a set that has been lost. Nor could I find the negatives from that event, so I had scanned the remaining prints.

I am happy to say that I have now found the negatives and was able to reproduce Louisa’s courageous effort from those.

Louisa face painting 1985 1

She began with a certain amount of trusting uncertainty.

Louisa face painting 1985 2

Soon, she was getting a bit cross;

Louisa face painting 1985 3

but responded to persuasion

Louisa face painting 1985 4

with stoic patience, until…..

Louisa face painting 1985 5

 Wow!. The mirror bestowed delight.

When working with old negatives or slides, especially those that have strayed from my dedicated storage systems, there is always a risk of blemishes caused by deterioration or damage. This set suffered more than most.

What was required was a considerable amount of retouching. For those not familiar with the process I will briefly describe the editing facility in the iMac. The scanned images are placed in Photos. Clicking on Edit gives various options, one of which is Retouch. This is essential to remove stray spots, faults, and hairs that have blemished the original material.

Using the mouse the icon is placed on the damaged area, positioning a circle the size of  which can be adjusted. Clicking or dragging on the circle transfers pigment pixels from the surrounding areas. I’m sure this isn’t a particularly technical explanation, but hopefully it conveys how painstaking one has to be to

Louisa face painting 1985 3 unretouched

transform this image into the third one above. An enlargement will clarify the problems. This shot has by no means the most blemishes, but it does have some of each. Sometimes I use cropping to save me doing all this. Thus, I could have removed the artist’s hair, but that would have ruined the context.

Even as I was closing what I thought was my final edit, I noticed that I had left, beneath Louisa’s ear in the first picture, a circular white lump larger than the blotchy one in the above original.

This evening we dined on Salmon Fillet & Spinach, and Cod Fillet & Sweet Potato, fishcakes topped with cheddar cheese; chips; and peas. I drank Doom Bar and Jackie drank fruit juice.


  1. That look of delight will bring smiles all over blogdom.

    I love fish cakes, especially the Portuguese ones made with salted cod. No doubt I will indulge next year when I live a month in Lisbon.

  2. Derrick, these are wonderful!
    The progression, along with your description, led to that very happy smiling face. Love it!

  3. That second-last image is delightful.

    That retouch button is a wonderful tool, Derrick. I have made 80-100 yr old black & white photos with many creases and spots relatively recognisable and clear. Sometimes increasing the contrast or black point can help too.

    (I have also erased hundreds of leaf and stick fragments out of the lake water after photographing a Swan). Yes, I am a bit OCD and like subjects to be neat and tidy in my images 🙂

  4. The pieces leading up to the final result are precious and so wonderful, Derrick. I have never thought to do this when my children or grandchildren were face-painted! 🙂

  5. Superb group of face-painting photos – though by the final photo I must have picked up a bit of hay fever or something because my eyes started to water.

    One of the great regrets in my life is that I didn’t take enough photos of the kids growing up.

  6. Love the variety of expressions! Then, of course, there is the last. Those pictures sure do tell a story.

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