I received a question about scanning slides and negatives:
How do you scan your photos and negatives? I want to buy a scanner that will do both plus slides. Thanks. --Marlu
I thought I'd write a brief piece hopefully answering her question. Maybe there are others out there who would like to be able to scan old slides and negs that haven't seen the light of day for a long time.

For years I owned a very high-end Epson scanner and it always worked perfectly. It could scan anything I threw at it. I was saddened when I had to get rid of it, but it had a SCSI connection and didn't work with my newer computer. So I went shopping for a new one. I did a lot of reading and decided to stay with Epson. Their scanners are workhorses and easy to use. I chose the Epson Perfection 700. It's most likely more than the average person needs. I needed it for work. But Epson makes two "lower" end machines that are both excellent: Epson Perfection V500, Epson Perfection V300.

You can also buy a standalone dedicated slide/film scanner. I have one of those. I rarely use it. If you need really superior scans of your slides a dedicated machine is the way to go, but be prepared to sit at the blasted thing forever sticking slide after slide into it. They are relatively inexpensive, but like I said, they're dedicated to doing only one thing, scanning slides and negs. You won't have the ability to scan anything else.

With a good flatbed scanner you're able to scan documents (including old photo albums, books, etc), photos, negatives, and slides. You need to make sure that it has the ability to do transparencies. Don't go buying one of the all-in-one (fax, scan, print) machines. They're not built for this.

A flatbed that can do transparencies has a special lid. A portion of the scanner lid, the underside, is removed allowing a light source to be both above and below your negs/slides. Epson includes a variety of neg and slide holders. You simply place your neg or slide in the holder, place it on the flatbed exactly where the manual says, remove the underside lid cover, push the button, and wait for the image to appear on your screen. There is more to it than that, but that's the basics.

You'll need to learn about resolution so you know which resolution to scan your image for whatever particular output you intend to use. If you just want something to look at on a computer screen 72 dpi is fine. If you want professional output you'll want to use 300 dpi.

For slides you're going to want the highest resolution possible. Each of the Epson's offer 6400 dpi. The higher the resolution, the larger your file which means the larger your final output size. Since slides are so small if you're going to want them at around an 8" x 10" print you'll need high resolution.

For negs that don't fit into a traditional size holder Epson offers a simple "holder" called the "area guide" that you place on the flatbed and then just place your slide/neg directly onto the glass bed, and push the button. The photo below was done this way, as were the Captain Kangaroo View-Master images at my ephemera site.

The Epson software is easy to use and does a great job. I work so much in Photoshop that I just do everything from there. I believe the Epson V700 and V500 come with Photoshop Elements, not the full version of Photoshop. But Elements is a great program, easy to use, good results. The Epson V300 doesn't mention Photoshop, but it sells from Amazon for an amazingly good price. Considering that my first scanner cost me over $1500 to see one down at this price, capable of doing negs and slides, is amazing.

When you're a novice it'll take you a few bad scans and a little learning curve to completely get up and running, but once you do you'll be scanning everything in site. A whole other world is opened up once you're images are digital. New ways of sharing old family photos. You'll be able to put together DVDs to view on tv, scan images at the right size to make photo books, scan and email images family members didn't even know existed. It's simply fun and you won't regret it.

The scan below was done in a matter of a few minutes on my Epson Perfection V700. I love using it. Anything to make life simpler.

As to who the young fellow is, I haven't a clue. It's just one of the negs in the big bag of negs from the estate sale. This was a pleasant surprise to see when it showed up on my screen because it's not one in the old album I also bought. So though I have quite a few photos of this little fellow in the album, this one was brand new for me. Who knows, he could be the baby in the man's arms in my previous post.

As to other brands of scanners, I can't give any thumbs up or down information about HP or Canon. I don't know anyone that uses them. I know they're both fine machines, but I can't give any specifics since I've never used either. If someone wants to weigh in on either please do.


Happy FATHER'S DAY for next year

Okay, I'm late with a Father's Day post. Truth is I didn't even know I owned this photograph. It's a negative from a big bag of negatives. Tonight I slid a few out of the bag to see what would "develop." This was the first one. A keeper. Man happily strumming his baby.

I have no information about this shot. Since it's a negative, it's possible no actual prints exist. This might be the first time this photograph has been seen by anyone in decades.

I love the old milk bottle behind him. The clothes and the milk bottle place it in time. Otherwise it's just a man holding a baby.



You provide the caption.

Click image to see it larger.

I look at it and the see the movie The Last Emperor and the toddler running through the hanging silk to the courtyard where his army awaits. This little one has an army of one. A bunny with a bell.


What was the BABY THINKING?

My first memory in life is scrubbing a wall outside the kitchen in our quarters on Midway Island. There's a story that goes with this, but I'll just leave it at that. My second memory is of a man lying on the beach in Waikiki with a newspaper over his face. This was on a transfer back from Midway to the mainland.

Click on image to see it larger.

It's doubtful this child had any memories of this photo shoot. The first shot from yesterday was purely tactile memories of a bed spread. This one staring at someone. Tomorrows, oh my tomorrows.


There once was a LITTLE BABY...

There once was a little baby who brought great joy to some people.

Click on image to see it larger.

For some reason the baby's photos ended up in an old suitcase at an antique store. No name attached. Now before you go thinking "how sad, how terribly sad" perhaps the photos had been sent to someone, a family member, a friend of the family. Just because the photos ended up in an old suitcase does not mean the baby was not loved. The original photos may still be with the baby's family. This may just be prints given to share some joy.

We'll never know.

This is the first of three.


NEW YORK sisters

Anyone know what's housed at 436 Fifth Avenue, New York these days? Once upon a time the Alwan and Company photography studio was there. I'm not finding anything about it or any examples other than this one.

Sisters? Cousins? Friends? Who knows. No information is given. I'm imagining it was taken somewhere around 1908. Have no idea why I picked that year, but sticking with it.

Click on the image to see it larger.

It's interesting that they are not looking at the camera. No eye contact made. They are not staring across time.



Another image from a negative.

The same cute little boy with his gang.

A rough and tumble gang...I think not.

All so cute.

All out of context.

It's what it is and it ain't goin' to be no more.

Enjoy them for their moment.

Summertime kidsters.

Click image below to see it larger, I think.


TOO CUTE for words

Okay, that title's a lie because though they are too cute there are a lot of words here.

This is also from that little mysterious envelope of negs bought at the flea market.

The little boy in the little sun hat is just cute. No other word. He's cute! The little girl is cute too, but not as cute as that little guy in the suit and hat. He looks like a little doll. So though I said too cute for words I at least needed enough words to say HE'S CUTE!

I find myself really drawn to snapshots of children. Most have not had the life experiences to cop an attitude. Well, in the old days. These days I see kids at very young ages with attitudes. Might not be their attitude, it might be one they got from some video game and are currently using until they see the next video game. I also blame MTV. I blame MTV for a lot of what goes on these days, but I won't get started on that. I don't have enough of an attention span to continue.

Click on image to see it larger.


No really, IT'S THE CAMERA, not your eyes

They were so sure this was going to be the perfect little shot of this little fellow. He posed so sweetly in his little suit. And then the print came back. Oh no. Oh oh no! He's blurred! Completely blurred. The grass and trees are fine, but the little darling is blurred!

Click on the little fella to see him larger.

That's okay, we're only going to send it to Aunt Elsie and she never wears her glasses so she'll never know. In this case her vanity is to our advantage.

Another negative from the little envelope. Okay, yes, he looks like an ad for the movie The Omen but I'm sure he was as sweet as could be.


Sweet sweet CHERRY

This little sweetie is enjoying some of the bounty of summer. I'm guessing they're bing cherries.

Click on image to see it larger.

This vernacular photo is from an envelope of negatives bought at a flea market. I'm guessing the neg didn't travel far over time because this orchard looks a lot like the orchard I live in. This could be a shot outside my door. In fact, though I live in an apple orchard, at one time there was a cherry tree that produced two different kinds of cherries at different times of the summer on the same tree. A famous botanist was involved over 100 years ago. Alas he is long gone, and so is the cherry tree.

I have no idea if somewhere a print of this shot exists. I have the negative, it's scratched and worn, but the image of this little girl enjoying her cherries right off the tree still brings a smile long after she and the tree are gone. A child of the country with dirt beneath her feet. Too many children never experience the simplicity of such a moment. Think of all we've lost.



This is Edith. I believe the last name is Wilkinson. That's how I interpret the handwriting on the back in pencil. She's a very pretty girl with shiny shoes. And an interesting chair. An armrest only on the one side. Clever. Just think how clumsy the photo would have looked if the other armrest were there. Instead it looks as if the missing armrest is actually part of the background painting. Yes, very clever.

Edith 1901_tatteredandlost
Are young friends this formal anymore? I doubt it. Instead of a sweet little post card you'd be just as likely to receive a Tweet about what the person has just eaten or heaven forbid a sexting message. Yeah, things aren't like they used to be. Informal has taken on a new meaning. Little real thought is given to the person you are sending a message to. Plus it's being sent to perhaps dozens or hundreds at the same time.

This card must have been a nice little gift for Dina to receive. She kept it in good shape and eventually it ended up at that ramshackle house in Calistoga. Let's hope both Edith and Dina had good lives.



This real photo post card was found at the same estate sale where I found the RPPC's from the previous two days. Other than saying the cards were purchased at a ramshackle house outside Calistoga, California I have no information. Well, I do have what is written on the back, Jessie Blue Light 1910.

Jessie Blue Light 1919_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

She fascinates me. There's drama in the photo because of the lighting, but she certainly isn't a dramatic person. She looks melancholy, which doesn't mean she was. I've said before I'm fascinated by the expressions on the old portrait faces only because I try to image them a moment before and after the shot was taken. I want to know if perhaps Jessie bent over laughing after this thinking it all so silly. She certainly doesn't look as glum as my posts the past two days.

Jessie looks like a school teacher, or a music teacher, or perhaps librarian. It's the pose, the stiff back. Perhaps the wife of a minister. But all of this is just me projecting and each of you will do the same. All of the people in these vernacular photographs are just actors in the story we tell. The truth rarely intrudes.

Then there's that name. A very unusual name. There's a story there for sure...lost to history.


WHY SO GLUM, part two

Here's the question. Are these two young ladies the melancholy older ladies of yesterday? Both real photo post cards bought at the same estate sale. If they are the same it seems they got even more glum as they got older.

why so glum_pt2_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I keep hearing "Don't worry, be happy" in my head when I look at them. Perhaps they soon were dancing on the grass after the portrait was taken. I imagine there were lots of other people standing around watching since this wasn't taken in a studio, perhaps at their home. Good little schoolgirls.


WHY SO GLUM, part 1

We know our ancestors were not as glum as they look in photographs. So few smiles show up in early portraits. Everyone looks stiff and a little melancholy. Sometimes it's hard to look at these old shots and not see them as actors. I have to focus on the faces to imagine them coming alive. I like to imagine the moment before and after the shot. Were they like me muttering, "I don't want my picture taken" or did they find it great fun? Did they break out in laughter as soon as the photographer said, "Thank you!" I think this is why I usually don't buy old studio portraits. They're a dime a dozen, okay a buck a piece, but too often they're just boring. I really don't see the person. Too formal. It's the good ones where something went a little bit wrong that appeal to me. I'm thinking back about little Grace with her finger up her nose in the family portrait. Without that one little problem they'd just look like a boring bunch of people in front of a house. Grace gives it life.

why so glum_pt 1_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

I have no idea who these two women are or their relationship. Family or friends. It's a real photo post card with nothing written on the back bought at an estate sale. Most of the shots were, I believe, from Nebraska. They look like cardboard cut-outs. No life to them. Were they happy when they saw the shot? All unknown. Actors in life. What was their script?

UPDATE: Okay, I screwed up. There are names on the back of this card. These two ladies are Ida and Ethel Haswell in 1914. For some reason I was thinking the names were on the card I'll feature tomorrow.


Part three..THE HUSBAND

I bought this the other day and it wasn't until last night that I paid attention to what was written on the back. Turned out to be the same handwriting that was on the back of Agnes and May's shots. So I give you the husband of Agnes, Uncle Ralph Cooper. Equally as mysterious as Agnes and May. Business man? Soft shoe artist? I'm waiting for him to do a little shuffle off to Buffalo. Or perhaps he was an enforcer. You know what I mean. Used that cane with determination. The whole family is quite mysterious and interesting.

Click on image to see it larger.
Uncle Ralph Cooper
Aunt Agnes Husband.


An ode to A BOY IN A DRESS

An Ode to a Boy in a Dress

Boys in summer dresses
don't often make messes
when playing with trucks outside.

But once in a kitchen
they again start to itchin'
to throw mud into somebody's eye.
Click on image to see it larger.

This shot is an 8 x 10. Yes indeedy, someone really liked this shot and paid for an enlargement and retouching on his face and leg. A story no doubt told around the evening dinner table that I'd like to know.

It's a category. I will collect them...along with people on horses (plastic, wooden, or live only), people spitting watermelon seeds at pigs, people cutting cakes...oh the list is simply too long!