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Bullet Sunday 133

Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday to the rescue...

• Photograph. One of the projects I've been working on over the past three years is getting all my photos converted to a digital format so I can preserve them as non-degradable 1's and 0's for all eternity. Once I got off work this afternoon, I started combing through my collection of pictures and negatives to get another batch ready for scanning. With the additional 1,748 images I rounded up today, I'll be at roughly 75% of my photographed memories converted. It's an expensive ordeal, to be sure, but ultimately worth it. If, for no other reason, that I get to relive the good old days when I looked like an advertisement for 80's fashion gone terribly wrong...

Old Photos of Young Dave!

• Remember. The down-side of rummaging through old memories is that you always run into people, places, and things that you'd just as soon forget. That's when the big decision of "to scan or not to scan" comes up. I don't know what it says about me, but 9 times out of 10, I choose not to have them scanned. 7 times out of 10, I destroy the originals. Some people would probably be horrified to hear this, believing that eventually you'll regret having gotten rid of the photos because you'll want to remember everything in your life... both good and bad. But try as I might, I cannot fathom being 90 years old and wanting to kick myself because I don't have a photo of some old girlfriend who screwed me over. How, exactly would that work? "Gee I wish I could remember what that lying, blood-sucking whore looks like." Uh huh... I don't think so. Some things really are best forgotten.

• Film. I still shoot film from time to time. There's a level of creativity, unpredictability, and danger that comes from throwing caution to the wind and using a chemical reaction to record an image. That being said, man what I wouldn't give to have had a digital camera back in the 80's and 90's when all these photos were taken! I don't really appreciate how amazing it is to be able to review a picture immediately after you've shot it until I see how many shitty photos I've got from back in those days. Over half of these shots would have been deleted or re-taken if only I knew they'd end up looking so bad. Oh well. I should be grateful that I had the relatively modern film technology I did (especially when compared to what came before it).

• Print. Back in the "film days," 100% of my photos were printed. Now-a-days, I'm guessing it's less than 5%. Most of the time I look at photos, it's on my computer. About the only time I have physical copies made is when I want to share them with friends and family who doesn't use a computer. This bothers me a little bit every time I think about it. Even though all my data is backed up very, very well... I still feel the need to have things in print for some reason. Maybe I'm just sentimental that way.

• Photoshop. Of course, one of the things I'm most looking forward to after getting all my photographs scanned is being able work some Photoshop magic on them. So many of the images can be dramatically improved by just small changes... erasing that person standing in the background... fixing the color balance... cropping out distractions... Photoshop makes it all so easy. A part of me thinks of this as "cheating" when I mess around with film images, but when it comes to my digital shots I don't give it a second thought. Perhaps it's because back in the "film days" you accepted that what you see is what you get when you press the shutter release. Whereas in the digital age, you take photos knowing you can change them. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I haven't yet decided.

What I have decided is that it's time for bed. I get to sleep in tomorrow morning, and I don't intend on ruining that by staying up past midnight.

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Categories: Photography 2009Click To It: Permalink


  1. Troy says:

    I can only imagine digital cameras from the 1980`s. I bet they would be in the one pixel range 🙂

    Take a shot and get a single blob of colour. Sweet 🙂

  2. Sybil Law says:

    Happy Memorial Day! (Or whatever the correct greeting would be…)
    I think it’s fun to look through old pictures. So many people I just flat out forgot even existed. And part of the fun IS when someone had their eyes shut or whatever. My eyes ALWAYS glow in pictures.

  3. Hilly says:

    Still cute, years later! 🙂

    I once got all symbolic and burned up every picture that I had of my first fiancee and you know what? I have no regrets about doing that! None at all.

  4. claire says:

    Good for you on the scanning. I do some from time to time but haven’t been methodical about it. What service do you use?

    I haven’t shot film in a quite a while, but I miss it. For me, it’s more predictable. I probably would shoot more if I liked the camera I have now, and if not for the added expense and time delay.

    Photoshopping old photos isn’t a cheat imo. If you’d been printing your shots, you’d have been able to crop, dodge & burn. OK, erasing people and objects gets into cheat territory, but if it makes a better photo, why not?

    I put up a couple shots yesterday from 1982 and I love that auto-level pretty much color corrected the prints’ aging. Also took the liberty of cropping them a bit to enhance the subject. I don’t think that’s cheating.

  5. I am still finding rolls of undeveloped film in boxes! Since they have to be around 14 years old I think they’re pretty much done for. My next project is learning to use Photoshop more effectively. Right now I can only do the basics.

  6. DutchBitch says:

    OMG you looked SO cute “back in the days”

  7. Film is like a slot machine…. you never know what you’re gonna get once you pull the lever! I wish I understood photo shop better!

  8. yellojkt says:

    I hardly ever print pictures anymore. I post most of them to my Flickr account. I have about eight boxes of old photos that I need to scan someday?

    Technical question: How are you scanning the photos? Do you have your own scanner or are you using a professional service?

  9. Dave2 says:

    Oh heavens no! Scanning thousands of photos would take ages.

    I use two professional services… ScanCafe and DigMyPics. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. ScanCafe forwards your stuff to Bangalore for processing, which is kind of scary, but much cheaper. DigMyPics is here in the US, so I use them for stuff that I’m a little more nervous about.

    The nicest thing about ScanCafe is that they will scan absolutely everything you send… but you can delete up to 50% of image scans you don’t want and not have to pay for them. That alone made me a fan of ScanCafe, because a lot of my photos aren’t worth paying to have scanned. Eventually, DigMyPics offered a similar service… allowing you to discard up to 35% of unwanted scans at no charge.

    The image quality is about the same at both places.

  10. heather says:

    can you reveal your back-up system? i am getting ready to purchase an external hard drive – scan my old negatvices and toss them – but it makes me very nervous….

  11. Dave2 says:

    Why, I’d be happy to!

    Though, I’m Macintosh-centric here, so a lot of this would be a little different if you’re Windows-based.

    1) I have a backup device called “Time Capsule” which uses Apple’s “Time Machine” technology to keep hourly-updated backups of everything I do on my laptop. Time Capsule is very cool, because it works wirelessly. It doesn’t matter where I am in my home, Time Capsule is constantly backing up my machine as I work. You can read more about Time Capsule here at Apple’s site. That’s backup level one, kept at my home.

    2) All my photos are managed by “Aperture” for the Mac. This is a wonderful program, because it allows you to have “vaults” that are backed up automatically every time you plug in an external drive where a vault has been created. I have a 500 gig Firewire External Hard Drive that I use solely for this purpose. You can read more about Aperture here at Apple’s site. That’s backup level two, also kept at my home.

    3) In case my home goes up in flames or is hit by a meteor, I use a program called “SuperDuper” to completely clone my laptop hard drive as a bootable backup to two small 500 gig portable drives any time I add a lot of photos. You can read more about SuperDuper here. That’s backup level three, one kept in my backpack, which is with me wherever I go… the second is stashed at my office.

    4) Lastly, I do an additional SuperDuper backup once a month. That’s backup level four, kept in a bank vault.

    So, the worst scenario here is that I lose a month’s worth of photos if all my backups fail down to level four. In all likelyhood, I wouldn’t lose that much though… I cycle through 5 high-capacity memory cards, so I could probably recover lots of my photos from there.

  12. I have a 13 year gap in my photo collection because I made the decision to leave them all behind with my ex-wife. It’s a decision that wasn’t taken lightly. But when it comes to those types of photos, I’m a big believer in looking forward instead of backwards and creating new memories and taking new photos is all part of the fun.

    Still, I can totally see what a fun project scanning old photos would have been.

  13. Donna says:

    Sherbet colours and acid-wash jeans.

    I dated you, didn’t I?

  14. martymankins says:

    I shot film for years and while there are parts of it I miss, I’m completely embraced digital for everything I do. I like the idea of being able to make multiple backups of all my photos. Granted, it’s easier to lose them, which has happened, but for the most part, as long as I remember to make regular backups on multiple mediums, I prefer it this way.

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