Protecting your Precious History
1st April 2010
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Protecting your Precious History.
By David Broadbent

Pieces of your own and your family history, your loved ones and even the pictures of the faithful old dog you used to have are under threat.  
I’m new to the digital revolution insofar as cameras. Although a photographer for what seems like centuries I held off converting to digital until I was sure that the quality was up to film standards. And boy is it. With high end digital quality now easily surpassing the quality of 35mm films, it’s easy to see why the digital revolution has dominated. I still have my beloved Xpan film camera but it’s scary really – sometimes I can’t even remember what it was like to use film. All of this was bought into sharp focus the other day by an article in the British Journal of Photography predicting the complete demise of film transparency (slides to you and me) processing on any commercial scale. Such has been the drop off in demand that what is left of the professional film processing companies can’t make it pay. I was at a training event in Cheltenham recently and some of the photographers there had never used film! Surely we are seeing the death of photographic film in all but the very specialist niche areas such as large format.  
Slides and film negatives you keep in a shoe box somewhere are as we speak degrading. It’s just in the nature of film to degrade over time. Sure you can have the print copied if it’s sharp and not too badly damaged. But the absolute best quality copy is to have the most precious frames digitised. You should only ever need to do this once so it makes sense to get the best quality digital scan you can first. After that you can manipulate and resize that original to your hearts content without ever worrying about losing it. Converted slide copiers and flatbed scanners just aren’t up to the job though. I use a Nikon 9000ED, bought six months ago, to scan my back catalogue for web use. Although not as perfect as a drum scanner (currently £45 per frames scanned!) it performs really really well. It turns out high quality, high resolution files from negatives and slides in various formats. The file sizes can be up to a hundred megabytes from medium format frames and so they are big. But absolutely packed with great detail and clarity meaning the pictures can easily be printed at 20 by 16 if necessary. If you settle for a 4mb scan in a jpeg format you just can’t achieve the same print quality. Couple the power of these high end pro scanners with the versatility of Photoshop version 4 and you have the ability to digitise those important life pictures and if necessary improve them by repairing damage, scratches or faded colours or adding artwork effects. At around £1.50 for a basic scan it’s madness to let those memories go. 
Some of the key issues are-  
·         Your stored films are degrading while you read this. First the colours and contrast fades or changes and then the image gets “thinner”. In contact with each other they can also stick together and ruin the images.
·         It’s much better to scan the original film rather than a print, there is just so much more detail in the film. It may take more searching in the loft but it’s worth it in the end.
·         Get the best cost effective quality scan available as soon as you can, copy it and store them in different locations or online.
·         Don’t use CD’s (use DVD’s) to store the prime digital copy of important pictures. Regardless of the manufactures claims the cheaper brands are not reliable
·         Pick only the sharpest frames for copying. Photoshop can work wonders in skilled hands but if you didn’t focus properly at time……..but if it’s the only one you have and it’s important – then better to copy than lose it all together.
·         Enjoy the copy you have by sharing it on line (re-sized and optimised for web use), having it printed or add it to your digital photo frame.  
If you need any advice or guidance on scanning old pictures you can email David at mention the Bestof the Forest of Dean

Written and copyrighted by David Broadbent (© 2010)
David Broadbent, David Broadbent Photography, 07771 664973,

All new website and image library - now live!!,

David Broadbent

David Broadbent Photography

07771 664973

All new website and image library - now live!!


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