23 June 2014

Another Big Project: Slides

 The purpose of today's post is this: If you have childhood photos captured on slides, find them and look at them NOW. I've just discovered that slide image quality deteriorates RAPIDLY and MARKEDLY over time, so now is the time to rescue them before you lose those images forever.

I grew up in an era when people used slide film. Our vacations were often documented with slides, and I have vivid memories of setting up the slide screen at one end of the basement in eager anticipation of seeing the almost life-size images we had captured. We traveled each summer and collected carousels full of slides. Many of the earliest pictures of me were taken with slide film.

 As a child, I meticulously cataloged many of the carousels, carefully listing each slide on the space provided on the back of each box. I'm very thankful that I've always had the "organizer" gene...otherwise the details would be lost on me today.

When preparing for our auction last summer, my husband helped me remove all the slides from the carousels so we could sell them. We cut the index from each box and kept them organized with the slides. I recently took all of these slides (400+, I think) to a local company to have them scanned and converted to .jpeg files. Once I get them back I can determine if I want to print and scrapbook them.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the entirety of my parents' slide collection. I unearthed lots and lots of additional slides which had somehow escaped my cataloging efforts. Some were in boxes, some were loose in drawers, and none were marked. So I boxed them all up and brought them home.

My parents had two different gadgets for looking at slides without a projector. You would poke the slide in a slot and the light bulb would come on, enabling you to see the slide in miniature format. Somehow, inexplicably, I sold both of them at the auction, not thinking very clearly at that time. Luckily my mother in law had a similar device, although with a much smaller screen, which I recently borrowed. It does the trick, although I'm kicking myself for letting go of the larger one.

I set to work on the box of slides with a goal of identifying each batch. As I worked, my sense of alarm grew. Many of the oldest slides were faded to the point that I could barely make out the images. I recognized some of the images because I'd seen them before, but I was completely appalled to see how much they had deteriorated since the last time I viewed them. I set aside the most significant slides to convert to .jpeg files, with hopes that some of the color can be restored. That remains to be seen. Sadly, some slides were completely blank. I do not know if they were blank to begin with or the images have completely faded. 

I also borrowed a device which hooks to your computer and scans slides one by one, converting them to .jpegs. Because I have so many slides, I may use this for some of them to save money. But it's a slow and tedious process, so I doubt I'll use it much. I'd rather pay to have it done professionally, with color restoration included.

 By the end of one long evening, I had sorted and labeled each set of slides. My next pass through the slides will be to determine which ones to keep. For now, they are labeled and prioritized so I can try to salvage the most significant ones. If you have slides, I'd suggest you do the same!

No comments: