digging through the past

Haven’t done much riding outside of commuting. Most of my time has been taken up by work, some subdued holiday shopping, small holiday functions, and a new project which I’ve had on the back burner for about 10 years for 1 reason or another…


My grandparents on my mother’s side of the family, and my father were quite the photographers back in the day. Regardless of this fact little record of this exists on the walls or photo albums around their house. This is due in large part to the fact that most of the pictures they took were recorded on Ektachrome slide film, developed, and then stored in boxes in the basement for some slide show that never seemed to come. Maybe they brought them out before my sister and I were teenagers, but I don’t remember it. Anyway. Being from graphics arts, I’ve had the technology at my disposal for some time to scan them in, but the actual act of DOING it is much like an archaeological dig. You don’t know what you’ve got until after you’ve unearthed it, and you don’t dig with a big shovel, you dig with a 1″ paintbrush. Maybe it’s a perfectly exposed image of your cousins when they were 4 years old or a street scene from 1950’s Rome, or maybe it would have been a perfect photo if the camera wasn’t shaken ever so slightly at the last second….

The only way to know is to systematically remove them all from their slide boxes, dust them off, scan them, title them, and save them to folders. Then show the results around and see what family merits saving. THEN take that small subset and rescan them with the utmost attention to color correctness, hi-resolution dust removal and printability. I’ve used my skills with folder actions and batch scanning to remove as much tedium as possible, but it’s still a slow process that ties me to a desk for the better part of days at a time. So far I’m about 1/4 the way through and I’ve scanned and cataloged somewhere around 400 slides. I’m excited for the final results, but sometimes the journey is slow.


Here’s Florence, Italy from the 1950’s. The original has a little camera shake, but for low res on the web it kind of holds up… Here’s what the Eiffel Tower looked like from the top back then, in case you ever wondered…


I’ve got Europe on the brain right now because I just spent Saturday going through a box of slides my dad took when he was there about 50 years ago. While scanning, I sometimes look through some of the boxes I haven’t done yet, and there’s a ton of interesting stuff there, it’s just getting to it. That’s what the cold of winter is for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s