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  • William Hunton

Recovering Time

Two creative expressions grabbed hold of me when I was about ten years old. The first was photography. The second was music. I’ll talk about music later.

I learned black and white photography and darkroom at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama during the Apollo program. Then when I got “serious” I learned Zone photography method from Fred Picker and Ansel Adams books. I was an obsessive practitioner.

Fast forward decades later. Weddings, family, landscapes, the details of nature, gallery showings, the art scene, working for a couple of studios part time, and I ended up with over 10,000 negatives and slides, and over 25,000 digital images.

I can no longer put off trying to organize my passion. If I don’t do it, my kids will just give up in frustration and toss everything in the trash. Perhaps that is the best solution, but maybe they would like to see some of the old photos.

Of the photographic voyeur it is said they have no memories, only images. All collected at an average 1/60 second shutter speed, the sum total of a life in photography spans only a few seconds. That is what I learned. I find myself now intentionally leaving my camera at home. Experiencing life and having memories while I still can is more important than recording it. But the acquisitive passion remains. I can’t help the habit.

Now I’m in the process of editing, organizing, and scanning photographs.

Good film scanners are expensive. The ones with a modest price tag do not offer the resolution I think I need. I came up with another method; use my high resolution digital camera to “scan” slides and negatives.

The ingredients: Nikon D7500, 24mp camera, a macro lens, bubble level, remote switch, copy stand, light box or iPad with a lightbox app. ISO as low as it goes, f5.6, aperture priority, RAW (most good digital cameras have the capability), and a piece of 5×7 glass to hold the negatives and slides flat.

Here is a photograph of the setup.

Adjust the lens and focusing to use as much of the camera’s resolution as you can.

I have a piece of software that installed the codex for several Raw formats including Nikon NEF and Canon CR, so I can view large thumbnails in Windows 10 File Explore. Indispensable.

I open the captured image in Photoshop Elements. It has a very nice processing window for RAW format. I can do almost all adjustments, cropping, and sharpening. Then I open the image in the regular editor and save it as a tiff or jpeg, depending on how I want to use it later.

Be aware the the iPad and lightbox app may introduce Moire artifacts, that a constant light source does not. Depends on your camera. They are a pain to remove.

Have fun. If you don’t want to fool with it, contact me for my rates.

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