It’s like most – 99% – of images are smart phone now. Film? First you load it, then shoot it, then develop and print it, and repeat. And a film camera? Oh my! Too much! It won’t even fit in your pocket. Mostly, it’s cost. $$$. Smartphone images are free. An SD card will shoot thousands of images for pennies. There are those who will, one day, look at gasoline cars with awe that we drove them once upon a time. You use a fob these days; grandpa used a crank. Or, was he just “cranky?”
Kodak’s fate was sealed when I got my first digital DSLR Nikon D70. It took a bit but not too long. Film? Slides? Gone. Like VHS tape. Gone. Film and slide scanning has gone through many iterations. There are cheap ways to get the job done. And then there is Nikon scan at 4000dpi. It is good? I guess. It has reached cult status. There are a few mavens who know and repair scanners in need. I was in contact with a couple. Characters? Yes, in the nicest sense there is a community of people out there who scan. I didn’t know how enthusiastic and will probably not know. I’m not on Facebook. I daresay everyone has their own workaround and solution to getting the job done. I have pictured here two scanners and two bulk loaders running day and night to get the task completed. No one in my family will ever care or be able to do this. Fine! Madness! Me. Yeah, I’m nuts.
The doughnut? Entenmann’s chocolate. If you live in NY or thereabouts, this is what you grew up with. My kids loved them. We kept them in the freezer (out of reach). When they could reach, I camouflaged them in a chocolate raspberry box (they hated raspberry). As the father there were ingenious strategies to keep one’s treats. My kids would raid my den for candy when they were desperate. I hid them well too. The doughnut – it happened to be in proximity to the scan photos. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
You know – if you get lemons, you make…. Peering into the picture not many viewers are particularly interested – I daresay, none – to see two Nikon slide scanners. It’s not a good pic. One is lying on its side and the other is upright with a bulk loader, Oh boy! We’re going downhill and losing audience fast! My spiffy loader was making more noise than a blender on “smoothie” setting. It’s ok for a smoothie but for hours on end… even my cat objected. I started with one scanner and one bulk loader. One bulk loader failed – noisy. So I bid on eBay and won another scanner and bulk loader. Bidding is brutal. These things are in demand! I intended to ditch/sell the scanner but…. two scanners scan faster than one. I eventually bid on another bulk loader and won. Now I had two complete scanning systems with two laptops running simultaneously. You can see the new battery box in the background. That battery change meant following 99 steps. Amazing in itself, that darn thing turned on and worked – not quite right, but eventually. I’m pretty pleased. It saved me a lot of time. Hey! I’m retired. But, I was saved a lot of time. I did waste a lot of time getting to be efficient. Alas, I will promptly have forgotten when and if I ever scan again.
It’s the emulsion stupid. Polaroid made instant slide film for a short while. Thank goodness I only used it a few times. Scanning it on a film scanner is hell. The developer/author of Vuescan told me it was grain and “user error.” Nice. Indeed, no one seemed to remember the film nor how to scan it. ICE – it’s software to remove dust magically during the scan process. It uses an infrared scan simultaneously to “map” dust and mark it for removal. Aha! Turn off ICE. You can do it. And the result is remarkable. Second, reduce grain. Problem improved. It ain’t great. The Polaroid film itself was not a good film. Thankfully, I only shot a few rolls. Probably, it’s why the film never took hold. I solved the problem by letting the solution percolate slowly in the background of my mind as I did other tasks. Ha ha! Brilliant! I’ve solved other problems that way. It’s remarkable what the background processor in my head will come up with. The great and wonderful internet did not have an answer for my problem. So, as a public service to you few who care, here’s the solution. Ha! An original answer.
The first camera I used was an Argus C3. Not a single useable picture resulted. The first camera I owned was a Kodak Instamatic 100. Yup, the first Instamatic model. It was pretty foolproof. Almost, not quite. The next real camera came in my freshman year of college – an Exakta. I lusted for a Nikon but settled on the Exakta at the recommendation of Chih Ming Pang (a long story). My Nikon was the FTn. Great camera, I was off into photography. SLR cameras dominated from then on. I made my way up the Nikon line buying as they improved. The biggest difference in a better camera – a higher percentage of usable pictures. The subject was exposed properly and in focus. This was a long long way from usable photography. I shot parsimoniously. Film was expensive as was developing. I eventually took about 40 rolls on a two-week trip. 1440 slides. I can shoot over 1000 digital images in a day. Needless to say, my development (photo education) was quite limited until digital came along. I’m still evolving and reinventing myself. Techniques don’t change that much. But for the first-time cameras are beginning to be able to keep up with my vision. Not always but more and more. I can shoot the moon and I can almost shoot the stars. I would have been pretty impossible for me to shoot the stars with film. Photography is only about 200 years old. We are a long way from box cameras.
What have I missed? I don’t have any of the Instamatic pictures. I have but don’t have access to the black and white negatives I shot and developed. Otherwise, the database I maintain dates to the ’70’s. The pictures of first twenty years of my life are scattered all around. I can lay my hands on about one early Christmas picture of me. As to my kids, their birth to present day is on my hard drives. I confess that tracking down everything is near to impossible.