Until digital technology was established some years ago, the most popular way for photographers to make visual memories had been to use slide film.
Slides were once an inexpensive alternative to making prints and if photographers were competent, and knew how to make good exposures, slides were actually preferred.
The basis for slide technology has changed, and I am reminded how much photography has been transformed with the introduction of digital cameras and computers.
My wife had been talking to our daughter-in-law, and as a result they decided it would be fun if I assembled some slideshows of our son growing up for their young family to see.
When my wife first mentioned it I thought about how easy it is to turn on the computer and scroll through the downloaded images and easily access images from a CD, DVD, or an external hard-drive, as opposed to the time consuming process of setting up for a film slide show.
To start, I had to go through my seemingly endless stack of slides.
Some are in stored carousel trays, some are in the small coloured plastic boxes that came from the lab, and many are in clear, plastic, twenty-slide sheets.
I realized that pictures of their father as a youngster, and then as a young man, would only hold my young granddaughters’ interest for a short time, so I dug around for a group of slides I remembered I had from a visit to Lion Country Safari taken in 1974.
That area of southern California is a lot like the African wildlife sanctuaries many photographers are now visiting, and if not for the occasional 1970s vintage car in the background, looks rather realistic.
I included another slide show with some photos my wife and I had taken at a zoo in San Francisco.
Then we started on the older family slides (by now, the two little girls had moved back to their toys) and the adults could get into laughing about how we looked so long ago.
I have been pretty lazy when it comes to sorting and cataloguing my slides.
I had stopped after the last vacation my wife and I took to Mt. Rainier in September 2002.
I purchased my first DSLR a few months later, and other than a presentation I made with those slides to the local camera club early in 2003, I just set everything aside, and this has been the first time I have gone through them since.
I have talked lots about my intention to get a quality scanner and start the process of converting film to digital, but to this point that has mostly just been talk.
Because of my search for family slides I began editing those old slides, and I set up a large garbage can to dump anything not in a carousel, or actual pictures of us, or our pets.
I got a call the other day from a woman who said she and her husband were in the middle of scanning and saving to DVD all their family slides; and said with a sigh they had about 1400 slides to go through.
My job is a bit more daunting. My first cut, actually “dump” is a better word, was pictures of flowers, and the second was scenics and I passed the 1000 mark pretty early on. But those arty slides, although picturesque, don’t mean anything to anyone except my wife and I, and we haven’t looked at them for eight years.
In my opinion one must be ruthless when downsizing, and in any event my wife and I will continue to keep making pictures.
Going though slides really isn’t all that difficult. I only use slide projectors when I want to show pictures to others, because trying to use one for sorting is just too hard.
I have a 5’x2’ slide viewing table with both horizontal and vertical viewing areas.
However, viewing slides can be as simple as resting the slides on a piece of glass with a light bulb underneath, and taping a piece of white paper under the glass so that slides will be viewed with a diffused light.
One could spend money on a “loop”, a small cylindrical viewing tool that magnifies the image, or easier, and less expensive, would be to just use a magnifying glass.
I intend to continue my dumping project and expect that will take some time yet, but we have set a date for another family slide session, and that will make me feel a bit better, because it has been painful throwing out perfectly good photographs.
I have to admit, in spite of being forced to do something I had been putting off for years, going through those slides and long forgotten memories has been fun.
After that will come the scanning of slides to digital.
These are my thoughts this week. I am at email@example.com or 250-371-3069 and operate Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops, I offer professional wedding photography, photographic instruction, and sells an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. Check out www.enmanscamera.com.