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Historical 1906 B&W Negatives

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  • Historical 1906 B&W Negatives

    Yesterday a woman came into my studio and handed me an old yellow envelope containing 20 B&W negatives of the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. She would like me to scan and print them for her.

    The negatives are an odd size, approx 6x3.5 or so and don't fit in any of the film holders I have. So I simply placed one of the negatives on the scanner, removed the reflective document mat and scanned it as an image. I then inverted it in Photoshop and got this result. I'm using an Epson Perfection 4870 photo scanner.

    High res here

    Knowing next to nothing about how to handle negatives of this age my question is will I do damage to them using this technique and how should they be stored to avoid further deterioration?

    Also if anyone has any pointer as to how I can get more detail out of these images during the scanning process I would appreciate it!

    Many thanks!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Originally posted by Elleth
    The negatives are an odd size, approx 6x3.5 or so and don't fit in any of the film holders I have. So I simply placed one of the negatives on the scanner, removed the reflective document mat and scanned it as an image. I then inverted it in Photoshop and got this result.
    This is a great tip, Elleth. I have no idea you can scan negatives this way.

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    • #3
      Your technique is pretty much as recommended for larger negatives. You can purchase archival storage sleeves from companies such as lightimpressionsdirect.com
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning

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      • #4
        This is a great tip, Elleth. I have no idea you can scan negatives this way.
        Neither did I, it was another happy discovery on my part!

        Thanks for the recommendation Doug, I purchased some storage sleeves today.

        Comment


        • #5
          Evidently the May issue of View Camera magazine has the first of a two-part article about scanning large negatives. It's not available online, but you can probably read it at any large bookseller. It would be interesting to hear if it has any unique insights.

          http://www.viewcamera.com
          Learn by teaching
          Take responsibility for learning

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          • #6
            Thanks for the tip on the article Doug.
            I think I'll have my morning cup of java at the local bookstore and browse the article.
            I haven't started this job yet, maybe I'll get some good pointers so that I can produce a better result!

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            • #7
              elleth,

              actually, you've got some very good detail there. the only way i know of that you could get a bit more in a scan, is with a larger sized negative scanner at a higher resolution, depending on the original of course. i'm not sure who has larger negative scanners, but i'm sure they're available...maybe a google search? mine only does 35mm and slides, so i dont know for sure. i'm not familiar with your scanner. what resolution does it scan to? generally speaking, negatives shld be scanned at higher resolutions than normal flatbed scanners. my negative scanner scans at 1800 dpi as compared to my 300 dpi flatbed. that your negatives are larger to begin with will compensate for this somewhat, but basically, scan them at as high a resolution as you can.

              i also have recently been experimenting with scanning larger negatives on a flatbed scanner. however, my scanner must use a reverse process to yours. rather than a reflective backing, mine uses a flat black backing. so, to get the image to come out at anything but a totally black image, rather than remove the backing, i take a white piece of 20 pound paper that's been magic markered on the inside to reduce the opacity even more and double it over and put it on top of the negative. sadly, my flatbed is only 300 dpi so the results are a lot lower resolution than i'd like. even with this, i still get a bit of extra light coming through, but passable. i then, like you, reverse the image in paint shop pro 7.xx and enlarge and clean and fix.

              as for damaging your negatives, one scanning shldnt hurt them much. leaving them exposed to normal sunlight would over time. this is mostly because of the ultraviolet band which would tend to break down the chemicals of the film. keep them dry, out of the dust and out of sunlight and handle with care. a low humitity room or area would also be recommended due to molds and such.

              Craig

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