Sunday, March 11, 2012

Adventures With Scanning Old Family Slides

Adventures With Scanning Old Family Slides

I’ve spent the last few weeks scanning boxes and boxes of old family Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides. I made a few key decisions before starting out. First I had to decide whether to purchase a slide scanner or send them to a commercial outfit to have them done professionally. I decided to buy a slide scanner. I found that they range from under $100 to over $1000. I ordered an $89 ION scanner from B&H Photo. From the description and the reviews it seemed adequate to suit my purposes. Then I had to decide how to go about weeding out the discards. Early on, when I began thinking about the project, I made the decision to throw out any images that were not associated with family. In other words, the thousands of travel, nature, bird, butterfly and mammal slides were going to go. I filled many, many plastic garbage bags with those. I still think that was a good decision, even though many of the pictures, to say nothing of the memories, were excellent. I looked at over 4000 family pictures, and kept nearly 1500. Both my dad and my ex were photographers, and I took up the hobby myself eventually.

So then the project actually began. I worked with the scanner in my upstairs office and downstairs at a light table made for me by Uncle Art, probably 40 or 50 years ago. I had a Trader Joes paper bag next to me for the discards. The only downside of this part of the project was an aching back. I had to lean over a little to look at the images on the light table, and I had to sit for hours at my laptop to review each image and make further decisions about keepers and discards. I’m not good at sitting still. The little wastebasket in my office was full of further discards each day that I worked on the project.

But the fun part of all of it was reliving so many memories. The “kids” in the pictures are now in their 50s, or very close to it. So the slides go back a long long time. I found the only record of 10-year-old Biz in a leg cast. I found records of the kids’ old boyfriends and girlfriends. I found pictures of James in his Navy uniform, leaving for the Persian Gulf in 1989, and pictures of Cliffi leaving for San Diego and her first year at college. There’s a picture of Biz holding a cigarette. And a picture of West in his Boy Scout uniform. There are pictures of high school and college graduations, and pictures of the kids at University City Swim Club, where the younger two learned to swim, James at age 2.

So now the images are all in folders on my laptop, and on an external hard drive for safekeeping. Too many hours of work to risk losing anything! I’ve kept the original slides, too, just in case. They take up 1 ½ slide boxes.

I have records, now, of all the significant black and white pictures, too. I scanned them some years ago. Each one of my children has a CD of those. The next project will be putting these new scans on CDs, too, to send to them.