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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

••◊ Archiving family photos


I recently took on the task of archiving old family photos, some from negatives, others from actual photos. This job is certainly not for the faint of heart. It took my friend Dan well over a year to archive his old family photos. I guess they used to treat photos like we currently treat most of our email inboxes ("I'll get to it later"). Folders and folders of negatives that were kept, in some cases for no reason at all. Just so I'm clear with mom and others, the negatives above did come from the family batch but didn't contain any family members or pictures worth keeping - yes, I double checked...have photographic proof if mandated.

Since the task is multi-headed (like Cerberus) I'm using both an HP C5280 all-in-one scanner and a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 (pictured above). The Nikon scanner is fairly nice, but be prepared to watch paint drying faster than a negative set goes through this scanner. The scanner has IR dust and scratch removal; it's saving grace, and true 4k resolution. If you save 35mm scans as 16-bit TIFFs each comes out to about 135MB. I've been scanning to TIFF, retouching, then archiving as JPEG for hard disk sanity.

The camera pictured above was my grandpa's Pentax Spotmatic-IIa and took most of the photos I'm currently archiving. It's certainly nothing like the Pentax K-7 that was just announced today. Although the predecessor (non -IIa) to this camera was the first with TTL exposure metering in 1964. I have to say that I'm not a nostalgic person by any means. I sometimes get frustrated with my year old Canon 40d not having some of the features of newer models I would gladly take advantage of. After briefly picking up the camera I found manual aperature and focus a serious source of immediate dissatisfaction. It makes you really appreciate the work that went into getting usable photos before digital. Now anybody with a point and shoot/cell phone camera and infinite depth of field can get a usable picture if the auto-focus cooperates!

In case my photog friends are interested, I took the scanner/camera photo in my spare bedroom on the bed with two pieces of foam core as the backdrop. One strobe was fired overhead into an umbrella for fill, the other bare strobe was behind the subject at camera left for a highlight accent. Both strobes on TTL at +2/3 compensation, 1:2 ratio of fill:highlight. I'll have to remember this for future Ebay items.

So...on to the photos. Now Prince Albert and I have something in common. No, not piercings. I like to call this one "Stuart in a Can."



Then there are the pictures like my aunt Ronnie looking cool, circa 1970. With that cap she was well ahead of the hip-hop fashion curve. Heck, P-diddy was only 1 year old. Little did he know what influence V-siddy would have on him 20 years later.

This is my mom's uncle Jake that I met briefly during a family reunion in the 1980's. He had a horse drawn carriage and would provide carriage service for weddings and special occassions in the Bismarck area. This portrait was taken in 1979. I thought it was well posed and decently lit for available light.

...and finally, what family portfolio would be complete without two or more family members standing in front of their house. I think at some point everyone's family has this type of photo in their album (remember those...the time *before* flickr - no, not really?). This is my grandma Elsie and my mom's cousin Karen, probably sometime during the 70's.


Off to shoot more model-types this Sunday. I'm hoping to try some night time techniques and get some athletic shots this time. Remember, just say no to posing in front of your house unless you're Candy Spelling.

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