Scanning the Grain

A few weeks ago I set out to scan every single negative and chrome that I have shot in the past 15 years (though truth be told there have been very few analog images taken by me in the last 6 years). As I opened binder after binder of images I quickly did the math and realized that I had literally thousands of images that needed to be scanned.

Now some might wonder to themselves… Why, why do you need every image scanned? Well, the answer is simple. For many of these rolls of film, I have never seen them any larger than on a contact sheet or through a loupe. There are bound to be some gems left unpolished in those reminants. That and the fact that in case of a catastrophe, they should be backed up somewhere.

I have spent many a day now, dusting negs and loading them into an infernally frustrating scanner that then hums, clicks, whirs and occasionally goes into spasms that sound as if my negs are being gnashed to bits. (I’m using an old hand me down AFL PF 1800 that occasionaly eats the tooth holes on my negs. Luckily it never damages the image.) Luckily this can be done in the course of my other daily duties around the office, but the tedium is mindbending at times.

A note to any aspiring photographer who for some reason not started using a digital camera. DO NOT CUT YOUR NEGATIVES INTO STRIPS BEFORE SCANNING. It will cost you more money and or time than you are willing to part with as your career blossoms. Don’t ever ship your negatives anywhere either, it’s just too damn risky. The fact is that unless you have a pile of cash lying around, you are destined to be one negative weary photographer. If you have even a semi large collection of negatives, it just makes more sense to buy a reasonably priced scanner and do the work yourself. By the time you pay to have your film professionally scanned, most people will have payed at least as much as they would have for a scanner if not 3 times as much.

In any case, wish me luck. The task is long, thankless, and tedious. I’m sure I have months left to go, but with any luck, those gems will surface and once polished, will give me the satisfaction that will have made the entire process more than worthwhile.

~ by David on November 17, 2007.

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