The 35mm Project

As many of you already know, I’ve been doing photography for most of my life. At the risk of dating myself, I’ll admit that the most part I’ve used film cameras. Like many “old school” photographers, I was skeptical of digital photography when it first came along. It wasn’t until 2009 that I bought my first real digital camera. By then technology had come a long way.

My 35mm heyday, however, was the late 70s through the 80s. I spent many of those years living in San Francisco, and I did photography whenever I could afford it. Film was expensive. Then I found out about a company in Seattle called RGB. They sold remnants of 35mm movie film, and they did their own processing. You mailed them your exposed film, and they sent you back both slides and negatives, which I carefully stored in plastic sleeves in three ring binders that were stashed in cupboards away from UV light. I thought they would last forever.

Well, I guess they sort of lasted forever…

Image scanned from a slide. The blue is the result of color deterioration.

Fast forward to present time. I finally gave in, ordered a slide scanner from Amazon, and began the daunting task of scanning those old photos. It was actually a lot of fun going down memory lane. Problem was, that “movie” film turned out to be not so great. Both the slides and the negatives had a lot of deterioration. I scanned the best of the best, both negatives and slides. For the most part, the negatives held out better, but there are a few exceptions. I also found the Kodak films aged better, although some held up better than others. The Kodachrome stuff looks remarkably good, the Ektachrome not so much. The Kodak Plus X black and white film also looks pretty good.

Image scanned from the negative. The colors are better preserved and more accurate.

My next step is to take the images I scanned to PhotoShop and do some restoration. Much of the color looks like old Technicolor movies. Kind of funky, but people seem to like it. Others, however, are too far gone and had to be converted to black and white. I’ll be adding the best of the best to my SmugMug site, but remember. Film is grainy. It doesn’t have the same resolution as digital.

Will keep you posted, so stay tuned.

Gayle Martin