A New Picture Project: Scanning Negatives

I purchased my first digital camera in 2001.  It was a very basic digital camera and I felt like it took decent pictures.  I was still too nervous about the technology though to completely abandon my 35mm camera.  What if I hit the wrong button on the camera and accidentally deleted all of my images?  Or my computer crashed and I lost all the images?  Besides, I had invested money in some nice lenses for my 35mm and it took much nicer pictures.

Over the years, however, my comfort level with digital photos and technology in general increased and eventually I came around and went completely digital.  Since my complete conversion to digital photography in 2007, I have taken thousands and thousands of digital photos. I have developed a system of organizing and editing them.  I have even abandoned the scrap-booking thing (gasp!) and have started to create our family albums on-line and order them all printed up in a nice hard-cover album.

The problem is that I have so many pictures from the precious years of my children’s young lives that are not in a digital format.  I have scanned some of them along the way for various occasions, but I recently decided that what I really wanted was to convert all those photos to digital for preservation.

Although I had copies of some of the pictures, many of the best ones were in my photo albums.  To create a digital copy, I would need to take the negatives into a photo lab and either pay them to convert it to digital from the negative or have a copy made from the negative and then scan it.  I quickly realized that these were not very economical options.  You see, my obsession with photos is not new. I have taken a LOT of pictures through the years. Consequently, I have a LOT of negatives.

After doing some research, I decided that a better option was to buy a film scanner and scan the negatives myself.  Based on my needs, I decided that this Canon 8800F film scanner was a practical choice.

Inside the scanner is a frame, that holds up to 12 of the 35mm negatives for scanning.  I started with my negatives from 1992, the year my oldest was born, and began the daunting project of scanning all my negatives.

Overall, I am very pleased with the image quality from the scanned negative.  Here are just a few of my favorites that I have come across so far:

Summer of ’93 – our oldest at around 6 months.

’94 – Discovering his shadow.  How precious is this?

Summer ’93 – Playing with Dad in the back yard.

Scanning negatives is a very tedious project, as each set of 12 can take as long as 10-15 minutes.  I have managed to get through an entire box of negatives already by just setting it up nearby the kitchen where I can get it started and work on something else.  Seems as though I’m always in the kitchen anyhow!  I have made it all the way through the year 1995!

The other issue I run into is that the negatives are often dirty and the dust shows up in the scanned photo.  For example, the shadow picture above looked like this when I first scanned it:

Notice the white specs of dust on the scanned image.  This is not a big deal, as it can easily be edited out in Photoshop.  Nonetheless, it does add to the time that I am investing in this project.  So far, I only touch up the really special photos that I come across.  I have also read that this problem can be reduced by spraying bursts of air on the negative from those cans of air you can buy at office supply stores to clean keyboards.

The biggest problem with this new picture project of mine…

Is that every once in a while

I come across a picture….

That stops me dead in my tracks…

That takes my breath away…

And makes me feel like someone is squeezing my heart…

’95 – Our oldest holding his newborn sister.

And as I take a deep breath…

And wipe away the tears…

I feel grateful that I have taken so many pictures…

Because in the process, I have captured precious snapshots of  our blessed lives.

So, I will press on with this new picture project in an attempt to preserve all of my images.  Only 3 more boxes and 12 more years worth of negatives to go!

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