DSLR scan video is here!

It's unscripted on my behalf, and I really should attach this to an exhaustive post, but this is so long overdue I just want to get it out there for everyone who has been so patient. I hope it answers any questions! I'll be adding lots of notes to the video as I go, so keep checking and feel free to make suggestions and ask questions. 

BIG thanks to Ariel Rawlings for helping get the video finished and out there at last. 

Happy viewing, I hope!

P.S. Please note that I added a note to use a self timer if you forget your release cable like I did. Also, the longer your self timer is set for, the less vibration will show up. Mirror vibration at 1/15 or 1/20 of  second shouldn't be too terrible as far as I can tell. Of course, the best solution is to not forget your release cable ... 

Digital editing of black and white film negatives

UPDATE: Check here for my new scanning video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68f43NSZCh4

In my previous post, I discussed how to use a macro lens, light table and a copy stand to "scan" film with a DSLR. I made a quick video to explain some basics about how to edit the image when you get it to your computer. This video is a first take, so please excuse my "uhs," random errors (I correct most or all as I go) and any accidental omissions. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, or to ask me to fill in any gaps I possibly left. I posted my final edit below the video. Enjoy!

Jade on black and white film that was "scanned" by a DSLR and edited digitally. 

Jade on black and white film that was "scanned" by a DSLR and edited digitally. 

Where is the time?

Meredith, in Austin, Texas.

Meredith, in Austin, Texas.

Where does the time go? I've been busy as all get out. I really should be blogging about it all here, especially so you know I'm actively working all the time as a photographer. It's easy to dismiss sharing, which is actually true for a lot of life. 

It's so easy to get caught up in life and forget to let anyone in on it.

How do you know I've shot thousands of frames of family portraits, news, conceptual fashion, still life or phone photography this summer if I don't tell you? How does your best friend in another city know? How does your mom know what you're up to, or your spouse? When was the last time you talked to that good friend or even your sibling living in another state?

Take a minute and share. I'm kind of doing that here, by blogging and by posting some photos. Let's work on this sharing thing, and let's not get too caught up in all life throws at us.

I really could quote the great Ferris Bueller (and I will) ...

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

New portfolio added!

Those who know me in person have probably witnessed my sometimes obsessive iPhone photo snapping at some point. In fact, if you've been somewhere with me at sunset or sunrise, it's almost guaranteed you have. I'm an avid Instagram user (there's a link on the bottom of the website navigation to your left!) and first fell in love with the quirks of camera phones when I decided to give Hipstamatic a try. Despite some misgivings – and my expensive digital SLR/random awesome film SLRs – I found the lure of immediacy and low-investment creativity irresistible. I found myself unexpectedly pushed  outside of my normal photographic confines, looking much more often at nature and still life, and enjoyed the results beyond any expectations. So let me say it loud:

The iPhone and apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic made me a better photographer. 

Eat it! Better  yet, let go of pretensions and take the same step I did. Make the most of what you have and enjoy it. 

And oh yeah, check out my new gallery here or by clicking the link on your left!

A box full of negatives, Part 2

For part 1, scroll down the main blog page or click here!

I'm not sure I can help you properly understand exactly what having full-time access to an SLR was like for me in 1997. Even the cheapest SLRs were hopelessly out of reach for me financially. Even casual access was enough to justify any awkwardness or difficulty being a yearbook staff member could have meant. (For what it's worth, it was spectacular.) For me to be handed that Rebel (the FIRST camera labeled Rebel, for the record), a couple of lenses and a cruddy flash was almost akin to winning the lottery.

The pile o' negatives. There's a lot more here than it looks like. Each strip represents a roll of film.

And so I embarked on a year that also saw me using a Rebel Xs before finally settling on a brand new Rebel G and a 540 EZ flash. I spit through dozens of rolls of film and expanded my world with every event and moment I documented. Those photos are technically pretty awful, but they represent so much growth and experience – artistically and personally. And they happen to represent a year of everyone else's lives, too. 

Games, classwork, presentations, concerts, parades, pep rallies, graduation … all the stuff you'd expect from a year of school. (Though I did pass the camera off for prom, and obviously had to give it up for most of graduation.) I photographed awkward freshmen, proud and confident seniors and everyone in between. I attempted to snap a picture of everyone I possibly could at Kilgore High School. Some turned out surprisingly nice, and many are predictably hideous.

After the whirlwind of producing a yearbook with a skeleton staff (that's a whole other story), the negatives wound up in a manilla envelope, which floated around the office for much of the next year, before I managed to rescue it from oblivion on a post-graduation visit. 

I took the negatives home and placed them in an old Nike shoebox that has since followed me around through the years, in storage, in a closet or under a bed. A couple of years ago, I took the box out and realized how curious I had become about its contents, and how much I had forgotten about the things I experienced in my earliest days behind the lens. 

Starting with my Class of 1998, every one of these students have recently come around to their 10-year reunions, concluding with last year's 2000-2001 reunion. Through social networking, so many of us have reconnected, sometimes after years of silence. 

"How cool would it be," I thought, "to scan all of these and put them online for all the people I am reconnecting with."

It was surprisingly fun for me to dig through these images, even if I was not always fond of high school. So I began scanning negatives, and soon realized how overwhelming it would be to ever digitize these in a reasonable amount of time. It was around then I discovered Scan Cafe, via a discount code linked on a website.

I generated a little interest with a Facebook note, which lead to a few kind donations, which encouraged me to eventually take the plunge. I could only afford to scan maybe a third of the box, but it was a neat experience. Copies of the first batch of scans are on their way to the contributors, and I hope they enjoy their historic value as much as I do.

As busy as I've been it's been slow going, not to mention eating nearly $200 scanning them was a bit of a blow to my enthusiasm. But hopefully they will enjoyed, and maybe we can gather some extra funding to help plow through the rest of the box, and to figure out a way to share these images between those interested.

I could embark on a digital vs. film debate here, but the real story is about photography. Photography dragged me out of my high school shell. A camera introduced me to hundreds of classmates (and now countless others). Wanting good photographs lead me to directing people and boldly seeking out pictures I might normally have shied away from. Every frustration over a missed shot – and conversely, ever success – led to a new lesson. And now these almost-discarded negatives are helping me and others relive and even appreciate a part of our shared past.

And trust me, if it helps me appreciate high school, it's pretty profound.