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White Narcissa: 1930

White Narcissa: 1930

Washington, D.C., circa 1930. "Gibbs, Mrs. Malcolm." Our second visit with Maude Foote Gibbs, wife of the People's Drug Store founder. Upon whose portrait the delicate filigree of the retoucher's hand gamely attempts to work its magic. But it is not to be, res ipsa loquitur. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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OK, Dave, no one else has commented: I noticed the Shorpy. Good Job!

Retouch Greys

. . . or gamma greys. You could get them in tubes also. Neutral, warm, or cool greys were available.

I ain't a surgeon!

Screamingmimi, I was trying to remember the name of those touchup colors for black-and-white photos. The ones I used came in little white trays with maybe six or eight tints. I got so tired of folks seeing themselves in a print and saying, "Hey; can you shave 20 pounds off me in that photo?"

I had a snide coworker who kept a dummy hand grenade in her desk in the photo lab. When someone came in with an outside photo and would ask, "Hey; could you blow up my kid for me," she'd hand them the dummy grenade and say, "I'm busy; you do it."

Re: Retouching

The retouching we see on these modern scans tells only half the story.

Back in the day, you would do some retouching on the negative and some on the print. Dark areas can be lightened easily on the neg but not on the print, and light areas are easier to darken on the print.

Also, the negative, even large format plates, were often enlarged when printed magnifying the retouching flaws. These flaws would then be further retouched on the print.

When we see these scans of old negatives we aren't seeing the final work.

He missed something

Why didn't the retoucher do something about her teeth?

In the olden days I worked for an insurance company and did some retouching work on B&W photos from one of our sales conferences. Which meant lengthening the hemlines of the ladies, covering up cleavage & painting away the alcoholic drinks.

I think we used watercolors called Gamma Greys (Grays?). Fun times then, pre-Photoshop.

Optional Caption

Lady of Vain?

Alas, the Bic had not been invented yet

You'd think owning a chain of drugstores would have put them on the cutting edge of razor technology. Or at least depilatory tech.

Seen worse retouching

And, I hate to admit, I've done worse retouching, back in those olden days when we worked with negs instead of pixels.

Maybe An Attempt at Youthanizing

At first I thought maybe she forgot to shave her pits, but seeing the same treatment on the neck leads me to believe that this was a poorly executed job of wrinkle removal.

[It seems the caption shares that belief. -tterrace]

Underarm Mystery

Might I ask what that is under Maude's arm? I can't tell if it is fuzzy (out of focus perhaps?) or a deodorant cream or powder?

[Prospective gumshoes, tecs and shamuses may find a clue in the caption. -tterrace]

Found the location of this photo

As per the 1929 DC city directory, Malcolm and Maude Gibbs lived at 4900 16th Street NW in DC. If you pop into Bing Birds Eye View, you can see the garage and the mansion with its distinctive rounded tower bit are visible just north of the property at 4900 16th.

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