Let there be Light

Exactly thirty seven years ago (to the month, if not the day) Princess Grace of Monaco visited Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, UK. That’s a bit like saying you were chatting to Mick Jagger on the number 74 bus to West Bromwich, or you bumped into Sir John Betjeman in the sausage queue on Melton Mowbray market. Mind you, I suppose the last one was once a possibility…

I photographed her meeting a bunch of local worthies at Hagley Hall, the ancestral home of the Cobham family. It was an absolute crush, with reporters, photographers, TV crews (and all those damn worthies) vying for a bit of elbow room.

I’m not sure whether my flash went off or not, or even whether I was trying for a natural light picture, which would have been very brave of me at the time, but I got an image that was an absolute swine to print in a conventional darkroom. Luckily, I didn’t have to print it too many times.

Consequently the negative lived in a little packet all on it’s own for nearly forty years, stored with thousands of others in a filing cabinet.

So how could something that had spent it’s whole life doing nothing but sitting in a bag, never seeing daylight, or fresh air, or even stale air for that matter, get covered in so much shite?

Princess Grace at Hagley Hall 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose this image as one of fifty-odd that I am exhibiting at my one-man show at Himley Hall, Dudley, in April and May this year, entitled A Time It Was.

I simply lost count of the number of hours spent spotting and cleaning up this image at actual pixel size in my editing programme. I suppose the consolation is that I could never have spotted an actual print to the same quality, with dust, hairs and scratches fighting for space on the neg with the same determination and voracity as the original protagonists in that room at Hagley Hall all those years ago.

Here’s a blow up of part of the image, showing the carnage.

Princess Grace at Hagley Hall 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is the finished image. At least I now have a digital copy that can’t gather dust and scratches, alongside my original Tri-X negative.

All I need to to do is make a back-up, with maybe another, and possibly just one more…

Princess Grace at Hagley Hall 1980

 

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One Comment

  1. A J Worrall January 21, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    It was worth all the trouble – it’s an historic picture bringing together some unusual elements.
    On the left is John Lyttelton (1943-2006), the 11th Viscount Cobham. He was the fourth generation of his family to hold the title which dates back, involving other families, to 1718.
    In the centre is Princess Grace (1929-1982). She was born in Philadelphia and became a film star. She married Prince Rainier of Monaco (1923-2005) whole family, named Grimaldi, have ruled the principality since 1297.
    On the right is Mary Henrietta Moody (1881-1985) whose family ran a newspaper group and printing company in Stourbridge for almost 100 years. She made the record books by becoming the oldest company chairman in Britain before she died at the age of 104.

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