St. Peter Ording, 1950s

1950s – A postcard image shows the beach café on stilts in St. Peter Ording in Northern Germany. Photo © Cramers Kunstanstalt Dortmund (CeKaDe), Scan by Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

Since having digitized most of the family archive I always wanted to not just explore photo prints and postcards but wanted to get closer to the original sources, i.e. high resolution negatives and positives. For the 24×36 mm films in the archive this has been an interesting and sometimes eye opening experience because these images look usually much better than the prints that were made from these films back then.

Rather by accident I came across glass negatives. These films have been mounted on solid glass and they are typically much larger than 24×36 mm films. As the name suggests, they are negatives, i.e. they show the image using inverted colors (or greyscales).

The glass negative I acquired shows the stilted beach café in St. Peter Ording in Northern Germany, one of the favorite places of my mother and my grandmother. This negative has a whopping size of 14 x 9 cm (5.5 x 3.5″). In the past, it had served during print production as the source for postcards and it has an amazing quality.

I scanned the negative at 4,800 dpi which is probably a too high resolution (2,400 dpi seems more appropriate), but I wanted to really squeeze the last bit of information from the original. Yet, scanned in RGB colors (48 bits/pixel) this would have been a file of 3 GB which is very, very large. However, using 16 bit greyscale TIFF reduced the size to around 1 GB, a size that can be handled well in Adobe Photoshop. Still, it’s not for the faint hearted to work on a 476 Megapixel image. Just imagine: a 24×36 mm negative covers just about 6.5% of the area of this glass negative.

The image quality has just blown me away. Very nice shades throughout the image and already in the original scan without any editing. There are countless visible details like people and (readable) signs. And once the size is reduced, it looks even better, because the grain becomes less visible.

By the way, the building in the front is one of the houses that have been built right onto the beach – on stilts! Here are further images from our archive from 1943, 2003 and 2007.

The high resolution image

Capture Date1950s
LocationSt. Peter, Germany
Image Source14 x 9 cm glass negative
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 16 bits/pixel, greyscale
Edited Image FormatTIFF, 16 bits/pixel, greyscale
Edited Image Dimensions27051 x 17604 Pixels
CopyrightPhoto © Cramers Kunstanstalt Dortmund (CeKaDe), Scan by Mark Zanzig/

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