Entire iPhoto pictures missing from external hard drive.

Hello, I have already posted this problem but I'm not sure it was clear enough and not getting the response I needed. I had a Jan 2011 white laptop came with snow leopard, and I upgraded to Lion. A good few months ago, my daughter splashed a small amount of water on it, whilst it was turned on and open. I dried off the water I could see, and the mac was still working so I assumed it was ok. (At this time it had a very low battery and was not connected to a power source) Later on in the afternoon, forgetting about the incident, I did the unthinkable and plugged in the power lead. Result: nothing, the laptop would not boot up, I tried a few times, even holding down the power key for extended time but nothing. I eventually gave up  and got myself a new macbook 10.9.2 then two days ago, took the old burnt out laptop to a place to get them to remove the hard drive and fit it in a case for me with a usb connection. They done this, I  got home and connected the external hard drive off my old mac into my new mac, success I could see it but when I tried launching I photo from the external HD (old lap top) on my new mac. (I didn't realise there would be a software issue which is obvious now)The new mac with mavericks said it could not open iphoto. So I tried searching for the photo files manually on my external hard drive (but there was nothing)  The user files were completely empty. It showed hardly any bytes (indicating I had nothing) My itunes files where gone too, and I could find no files I needed that were originally on my old (mac/ now external harddrive) The only items that were intact were the documents in the documents folder and the applications. I took the external hd back to the repair shop and they said they could not find them. They said they would charge me £100 for an attempted recovery  of data which I 'm now not sure what to do, as I'm unsure what has happened. I desperately would like to get some of the data back, i;e (some files from desktop and photos)  as frustratingly  it was not backed up....
My questions are:
1.Would trying to open iphoto, and itunes from my  external HD with earlier software in  10.9.2 Mavericks cause me to lose data (including desktop files) ?
2. Could the water damage be the issue for destroying the data? (although other data is still there)
3. Is it likely the files are still on my external hd and I just can't see them (although the low bytes seems to indicate perhaps not)
4. Is there a reliable data recovery program out there someone can recommend I can get and use that may recover the files, and do I download it on my new mac, and direct it to the external hd?
5. Would apeture locate the missing iphoto picture files  from the external HD and integrate it into the library on my mavericks?
6. Could the problem be caused by leaving the HD in my old(water damaged) laptop for so long before I tried rescuing it?
Any light on situation much appreciated. Apologies if this issue already been aswered, I did scour but did not see help I needed.
Thanks in advance

Hi  T,
Thanks again for reply.  Just checked my mac for the first time without the external HD attached. I had a hard time trying to get back into this site on my new mac. Now I keep getting a pop up that says (https:// discussions.apple.com bad gateway) with ok button every every 30 secs or or something after that I can't type except if I click ok. Prior to that I had some message telling me something about proxy server gateway no access or something. Not happenign on other sites so perhaps just a random error, (hope I have now not picked up a bug or another insidious thing from some site whilst trying to resolve my old HD probs....)
Extremely annoying!!
Well I checked as you asked. This is the process.(if you can tell me how to take a screen shot I will do it, but at moment I don't know how to do that exactly)
At the moment I have got my HD showing on my desk top Top RH corner, like they used to in the good old days before it all changed. I do this, because everything is conveniently placed in one place. Call me old fashioned I guess..
(Not to change the thread but this pop up thing is driving me mad...)
If I doubleclick on that by default it opens with five folders in it, I;E applications, library, system, user information, users.
When I click on Users.
It is here I find the user  file  with a user name that I have NEVER entered into this new mac, (especially with old MAC HD attached as I did not want any confusion) I even re-named my  old HD (OLD mac HD)
This new user file even has the icon of  a HOUSE instead of a folder, which is something off older OS as far as I know, I never saw it in mavericks before attaching this encased contraption which is just a metal box as far as I see that holds my old HD, but annoyingly done by someone that may not have known what they were doing..
Why the heck is it there? It should not be there!
When I click on this old (home folder) as that is what it used to be, and that was the name of my OLD HD before it got the name (old mac HD) which now I think of it, was not changed by me by default... which is a thought.. I only added the word OLD to it..
Well it has all my default folders such as desk top, docs, movies, pictures ect.. When I click on pictures I  have my new iphoto library and another folder called root which has the salvaged files I saved there from the recovery software Stellar Pheonix which I downloaded a couple of days ago but can't actually open with preview anyway. I tried to do it with an old version of CS 5 photoshop to see if that would work, but I could not get photoshop to open in mavericks even after java update)
The interesting thing is is: if I go to system preferences in my dock I click on users it only has the user folders I specified that should be there on my new mac.
now peeved.  and this annoying pop up.....Situ does not seem to be getting any better!
Instructions please how to post screenshot..
PS sorry about LONG POST

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