The Digitisation Of Old Print Photos, Negatives And Transparencies

Old Kodak Print Packet (Front)
Old Kodak Print Packet (Back)

Do these images take you back to what is lurking "unloved" in your bottom drawer in "The Junk Room", or, far more likely, your rarely-entered attic or, may the Heavens forfend, the damp and dingy "Shed"?!

It is high time to work through these and see what they reveal. At the very least they will kick-start the thawing-out of "101" memories!

Old Kodak Print Packet (Front)

Yup! I am sure you have some of these, gathering dust and, if you are not careful, mould, mildew and/or fungus, too.

Find them and then let me help you digitise them whilst there is still time!

Nearly all of us have masses of old print photos knocking around somewhere in the house.

Those of us who were keen photographers before the advent of digital photos will almost certainly also have most of the negatives from which those black and white and colour prints were made.

Some of us also took loads of colour 35mm transparencies "back then" and these, for sure, are gathering dust, and quite possibly mould, on the emulsion coating of the film.

I can use my cameras and other photographic kit as well as my special Epson photographic scanner to digitise the best or all of these prints, negatives and transparencies, which will then make them very much better candidates for inclusion in your book.

Normally, it is best to re-photograph the negatives and transparencies with a macro or "prime" (meaning fixed focal length) lens rather than scan them, as the glass elements in good camera lenses are nearly always of very much better quality than the glass, or just plastic, lenses found in cheaper scanners.

Sometimes, however, if the original negative or photo is very small and you want to produce a larger printed image, it is better to take a scan, as scanners can scan at much higher resolutions than cameras can re-photograph at; cameras are restricted to digitising at 300 dpi whereas many scanners can achieve optical (as opposed to interpolated) resolutions of up to 6400 dpi.

Re-photographing colour negatives and transparencies rather than scanning the prints taken from them is even better, as then you regain access to the original, much more vibrant and accurate colours rather than the often very suspect colours that you get back from "High Street" print-shops, who can have an obvious commercial interest in just using automatic settings (and, in the past, "tired" chemicals) for every film they process to save them time and money.

I can also almost certainly do all of this digitisation work for you far more cheaply than if you went down to your local High Street photo-lab and asked them to do it for you!

That said, digitising photos properly is not a quick process so you would normally only want to digitise your most important photos but you would then have digital copies in case of fire, flood, theft and all the other horrible things that can and do regularly happen to photos, negatives and transparencies.

I can also help you to not just bring perfect order to all of your photos but also help you to store them in such a way as to slow down the inevitable deterioration in the quality of your prints, negatives and transparencies over time. I have recently been in touch with a very experienced photographic conservator and, as a result, I have purchased a range of different storage materials from the very best acid-and-lignin-free paper made from cotton rags rather than wood to the much cheaper and more practical inert plastic sleeves for just very short term storage.

I might use the latter, for instance, when picking up the negatives and transparencies from you so as to safeguard them whilst they are with me here for processing, hopefully prior to re-organising them and re-packing them in special conservation paper packets and boxes for final long-term storage back with you.

I can also arrange to supply you with all of these materials and return all of your old photographic material in whatever order that would best suit you.

Finally, if we suddenly found that our home was on fire or flooding, we would obviously call the emergency services as we made sure that all family members, guests and pets were safe. Then, most of us would rush to save our most treasured possessions, which would inevitably include as many of our family photos as we could quickly find as well as more mundane things like our wallets, credit cards, passports and driving licences.

My heart really goes out to all those poor people, who have lost all or nearly all of their family photos. They then become fully reliant on the copies that they may have made and given out to others but ... how many of these photos are likely to still exist?

Make sure you take steps to digitise them all now!

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