Giving life to old photos


“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”
— American author Eudora Welty, 1909-2001

Jim’s Bike Blog hasn’t getting a lot of my attention of late. For that, my apologies.
My excuse is that I’ve been distracted
by another of my hobbies — photography.

Self-portrait with a Nikon F, circa 1969-1970

During more than four decades as a journalist — including 16 years as a foreign correspondent in Moscow, London, Johannesburg and Nairobi
— I snapped thousands of photographs. Most of them were shot with black-and-white film. Some of them were disseminated by The Associated Press, my employer at the time. Many others were shot simply for my own amusement.
The negatives have lain dormant for more than 40 years in files that I’ve hauled with me in moves around the world. Now that I’m retired, I’ve decided to sift through the negatives to see what I have.
I bought online an inexpensive scanner, an Ion Film2SD. It’s a small, desktop device into which you insert a photo memory card. You feed the filmstrips or slides into a side slot at the bottom of the device and an image pops up on a small screen. If you wish to save the image onto the memory card, simply click the OK button. You can then insert the memory card into a computer and use a photo-editing program to manipulate the images.
The results have been far more satisfactory than I had imagined. The images on many of the black-and-white negatives appeared to be gray and flat, but have been brought to life by manipulating light and contrast. The colors on many of the Kodachrome slides faded over the years, but can be enhanced on the computer. I’ve been using Picasa 3, free from Google, and elements of Adobe Photoshop.

Changing film in Japan, early 1970s

Some of the images have a bit of historical significance, such as those shot on the first Earth Day in New York on April 22, 1970, or during 3 1/2 years in the moribund Soviet Union during the early 1970s. Others, shot on travels to such places as India, Egypt, Japan and Afghanistan, are simply reminders of long-ago adventures. Still others would be of interest only to my immediate family. Many of those I’ve e-mailed to my three far-flung sons.
So far, I’ve made only a small dent in the pile of images. I’ve posted some on my Facebook page and also on Flickr. The Flickr account is linked to this blog, and the images appear on the right-hand side of this page under “Flickr photos.” Clicking on any of the photos will take you to my Flickr home page, where all of the photos can be viewed.
I hope you derive some satisfaction from looking at them. I certainly have by bringing these old negatives back to life and sharing them with others.
As Ansel Adams observed: “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.”

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1 Comment

Filed under Americana, History, Travels

One response to “Giving life to old photos

  1. I LOVE my film scanner. The worst problem is getting rid of dust specks.

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