I'm currently scanning my 35mm slides and negatives in order to have a safe backup and a better way to view the pictures (I don't own a slide projector anymore)... but I'm a bit undecided of what to do with the slides and negatives after.
I have to specify that I'm a passionate photographer, so quality means a lot for me.
For slides, it's the best quality I could ever have... but at the same time I don't plan to buy a new projector to see them, I have no particular plan to make prints from them, and I think that if in 5 years I want to make a print from a slide it would be easier to do it from the scan of the slide than from the slide itself... so I think it's reasonable to (try to) recycle them...
For negatives, it's easier to have good quality scans (less problems with deep shadows) so it's probably even less needed to keep them... but at the same time it's easier to make a print from them (and I think it will still be quite easy in the coming years)... so... I don't know.
Same thing for "what to scan ?" everything or just the bests ?
I remember that I ripped all my CD's some years ago before selling/donating them... but I never listened to them since that day, because most of them were "old" music I don't enjoy anymore...
... but it's hard to throw away "analog" pictures as there are few of them for certain events. For example for a birthday nowadays we have 100 pictures, 90 bad or with nothing special... so it's easy to keep 10 good ones. But when you only have 3 bad analog pictures for that event... what to do ?
Do you have advices, what have you already done ? thrown away ? ...
As far as zero waste, throwing them away isn't really a good option. And I don't know of any way that they can be recycled.
On the photography side of things, the negatives (and slides) are the best. Scanning technology and image formats are likely to become obsolete not too far from now, while the negatives will be around longer than you. Imagine if all you had were 2 megapixel photos because you had thought it was all you needed at the time, or if they were all on VHS so you couldn't play them. Hard drives fail, files corrupt and become obsolere, but the film will always be there.
I searched for information about recycling and discovered that :
- it depends on the type of film (black & white, color, slides, negatives...)
- it depends on your location
but most of the time there is nothing to be done to recycle them, they just have to go to waste :(
On the photographic side, I'm also confused : Yes slides can be viewed without specific devices (just your eyes) but it's very uncomfortable and I don't think people will have lighting tables or slide projectors in the futures. For negatives it's even more complicated. I disagree on the fact that it does not need technology to be viewed. My future grand children won't have any way to see the pictures. Even if scanners will probably remain available for many years, how many people will have one or a way to use one ? I mean look around you, who still have a scanner ? And those who have one, is it a model that can scan negatives ?
So I think that negatives will become obsolete because of the lack of (easily accessible) technology to regain access to the positive pictures. Do you really think that your great children will go to a specific shop with hundreds of negatives, with no real idea on what is on it and pay for the "inversion" process ? I don't think so.
So on the heirloom side, I think that's it is more clever to make something like a photo book every 10 years or so with pictures well captioned (year, name of the people...) and why not keep the scanned versions of the pictures in a folder and every 10 years convert them in the best file format to ensure that they will be viewable for 10 more years (today it is a high quality jpeg). For hard drive that breaks, come on, we have many (good & cheap) solutions to avoid that.
I asked around me and the answer is always the same : "what are you looking for in old pictures of your familiy/grand parents/... ?" People look for "how my grand father looked like when he was young, how people were dressed, what their house looked like, ... they don't care about their grand parents vacation in Italy 50 years ago for example,...
So it helps to separate two very distinct things :
- the best way to keep pictures for heirloom : few pictures, easy access (print or jpeg), only pictures of people or people in their surroundings, ...
- what is important to ME, during my life as a photographer.
And for that second part I still haven't decided, but the more I scan my slides, the more I want to discard them. I think I will hold on maybe 50 real "keepers", pictures I have already printed for example. Some beautiful landscapes (with nobody on them :-)... but I think my 250 "New-Zealand 2002 vacation" slides (already a selection) will be better in HQ jpeg in the next 50 years than just slides hidden in a box hidden in a garage. Maybe I will also keep a few slides with family ("look it's grand'ma in bikini when she was 20 !")... I'm not sure...
For the negatives they tend to be less bulky so they are easier to archive in a box and forgot them. For me my whole "negatives life" is 3 big binders, so around 25x35x20 centimeters, not a big deal...
I will think about it when I'll be scanning them in the coming days :)
I also think we treasure slides & negatives but at the same time many of us don't have a good system for numeric pictures. I'm not at all a part of it, but many people around me put digital pictures everywhere on their hard drive, have no real backup system, no way to keep the pictures organised (digital camera, smartphone...). Some of them even rely on facebook to keep their pictures available in the future !!!
Above all it means, that in fact those pictures aren't so important ! We tend to think they are really really what matters the most but are they really ?
For me it helps a lot to start to remember a special event. When I look at a 1999 pictures it brings back a lot of memories I thought I had forgotten, that's why I preciously keep my pictures, maybe to triggers memory when Alzheimer will be there :) but do we need very high quality pictures for that ? Chris you wrote about 2 megapixels pictures... My first year of digital photography, I only have 1.3 megapixel pictures, no "negatives", no "we'll see later to make a better scan", that's the best I have... forever. Do I worry about it ? Not so much, there is no choice, so I don't ruminate about it. I worry much more on blurry 20 megapixels pictures :)
I'm sorry, my post is not very clear, I'm still undecided on many things, I just try to focus on what is really important for me, my family, what heirloom I want to leave (or not)... how I want it to be (an encrypted hard drive with a forever lost password ? :-) Not sure...
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