interlude blog — rescan

Film photography has become quite a minority sport. Although I don’t think the market will entirely disappear, because film has a particular visual quality, I’m not confident good products will continue to be easily available.

Back in 2008, I scanned my slides and negatives using a flatbed scanner with an attachment for scanning films. It did a poor job. It did not focus properly on the film. It brought out little of the detail, of the contrast, of the colour depth. Although I got some good results out of the process, I was generally deeply disappointed.

Now, though, given the shrinking market and the disappearance of many quality products, I’ve decided I’d better buy a good film scanner before they become rare and expensive. I’ve got myself a Plustek 8200i. I’ve been busy rescanning negatives. It’s good, able to capture a lot of the content of film. Unlike my previous scanner, it focuses well. This is the first time I’ve seen a good number of my images properly.

I remember, back in the 80s, being annoyed at chemists for not printing all the images on a film. They censored those photos they found abnormal. I understand their cowardice—they were scared of not being paid for printing bad photos by people too lazy to learn how to take a photo properly—but I still condemn them for this dishonesty. In consequence, this is the first time I’ve seen a lot of my old experimental images properly.

I couldn’t avoid this problem as a student because I couldn't afford to print images myself. I remember the student darkroom was hopeless and never available, so I had no chance to learn, and even if I could have bought the kit myself I had nowhere to use it. Looking back, I should have found a local photography club.

Even when I could buy the kit, I didn’t develop the skills to use it properly. I just wasn’t particularly good at printing. It’s only now, with computers, than I can bring out the best in my images.

Anyway, I’m rescanning my slides and negatives, and prepared images afresh. I’ve found myself able to present properly what I couldn’t quite capture at the time. I could indeed take good photos.

One hiccup: the originals are old and dirty (like me, ba–dum). I’ve tried to patch the photos to remove the dirt, but I’ve not been able to fix everything. And talking about fixing, I’d developed a number of these films myself, and clearly got the fixing wrong, too often. Indeed, not just the fixing … .