A while back I decided to go through the photos I took on a trip to Morocco 30 years ago and revisit them (see this post). Scanning has been an intermittent process but I’m getting through it. I’m doing the scanning on a Plustek OpticFilm scanner and using VueScan as the scanning software; generally it’s going well and I’m really impressed with the level of control I’m getting from VueScan on these old negatives which often need more or less of a colour to make them look OK. Some of the images have clearly degraded a fair bit over time as no amount of tweaking in VueScan or Lightroom can make them look great, though the majority are responding well. I’m tending to not mess about with the actual exposure or contrast at the scanning stage, partially because generally it’s near enough okay but mainly because I’m doing that in Lightroom. One thing I’ve discovered is that pretty much any negative, not just the old ones, benefits from a bit of clarity…many of these benefit from quite a lot! I’m also doing some recropping of them if I think there is a more interesting one than the whole negative view. After all I do this with my digital photos ruthlessly so why not these, I’m not a ‘print the full frame, get it right in camera’ snob 🙂
I’m not near the end yet, but I thought I’d share one of the images
This is the Udaya Kasbah at Rabat, where I remember us having a wonderful mint tea in a cafe with gardens of which I do have some photos, Sue and I weren’t as obessed with gardens then otherwise I suspect there would be more…a lot more. I rather wish I could remember more about the trip, it’s now just a set of isolated memories and images.
What is interesting is how different these photos are in the scanned form than they are in the prints, after a bit of tweaking in Lightroom (remember the clarity) there’s a dynamic range and ‘space’ in them which the prints lack. Now clearly the machine processing of the 24 hour service in SuperSnaps wasn’t ever going to be anything other than a very broad estimate of the content of the negative, pretty much like shooting your DSLR on full auto jpg, you have to lose something even though superficially the images look okay. The thing which I’m finding interesting though is this, my memories of the trip are largely linked to the photos, when I look at them I’m revisiting in my head taking them (I tend to have very clear recall of the circumstances around taking photos). However, with some I’m finding there is detail which wasn’t in the prints, and in some cases the lab has actually cropped the negative quite substantially so there are bits missing in the print. So to an extent my memories are significantly faulty! Morocco was clearly in many ways a lot more vibrant and the shadows were less gloomy than I was (aided by the photos) ‘rememembering’ it as being.
So I’ve got another ten negatives to scan and process, then I’m going to decide on a sequence for them. In the original album they’re chronological based on the order in which I took them, but I’m wondering if it might be more interesting to sequence them differently. They’ll probably be an album on my Flickr, but I bit of me is wondering about getting a photobook done so it can sit on the shelf next to the original album…hmm…