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Thread: 1896 negatives

  1. #1

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    1896 negatives

    I talking with a USGS about some photos taken on an 1896 expedition around Mt. Rainier, see inventory to date. I found an orignal copy of the report with the images as print plates, description and found where the original negatives are archived.

    The USGS is slowly scanning them, see the information and scanning Web pages, but few of the ones I want, the 16 in the report and likely 2-3 times more unpublished, aren't ready and they're not progessing terribly fast (only 10% of 300,000 done). They offered to add my request to the 'to do" list and send a CD when ready.

    Since they seem to simply scanning them for near original condition, I'm offering to (re)scan them to share the digital files, providing their original version (at higher resolution) and mine (cleaned up), so I'm curious what suggestions folks have if/when I get them (the USGS is not into "loaning" original material, but I'm using my former status as a retired USGS scientist and contacts to persuade them I'm not an image terrorist) with such old negatives.

    I'm using an Epson V750 scanner with either the Epson or Silverfast software. Judging from the current ones on-line I'm not sure how much can be done to salvage the damage, but it seems worth the effort (ok, to me anyway). Also, I'm confused why you scan at 600 dpi but produce jpeg's to 1400 and 1600 dpi. Why?
    --Scott--

    Scott M. Knowles, MS-Geography
    scott@wsrphoto.com

    "All things merge into one, and a river flows through it."
    - Norman MacLean

  2. #2

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Knowles View Post
    I'm using an Epson V750 scanner with either the Epson or Silverfast software. Judging from the current ones on-line I'm not sure how much can be done to salvage the damage, but it seems worth the effort (ok, to me anyway). Also, I'm confused why you scan at 600 dpi but produce jpeg's to 1400 and 1600 dpi. Why?
    The 600 dpi bit must be a typo. Typically the masterscan is the largest, other sizes are derivatives / downsized versions of the masterfile. In other words: normal practice is to scan once at the highest desirable resolution, then downsize for any particular use if needed. Ask them, someone there must know.

    I take it you mean to scan 16-64 negatives, not 300,000 on your machine.

    How much cleaning up can be done depends on your skills and on the amount and kind of damage. You can not clean up what's not there anymore. There is always a fine line between cleaning up and interpreting/changing the original somewhere.
    You will have to master the software and scanning procudures first. I suggest you learn to use the Silverfast software if you have not already done so, and maybe upgrade to the full Ai Studio version if you feel you need the extra controls like Multi Exposure. You might want to get or improvise a holder for these negatives. The idea is to hold them level and motionless in the exact plane of focus.
    You will find a lot of information on this site regarding these subjects.

    Good luck in obtaining permission.

  3. #3

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Thanks for the response. I'll inquire about the typo but your answer seems right. And yes, it's 40-50 negatives. Looking at the on-line jpegs, I noticed the medium can seems to be the best of the three, and higher scans only seem to show the flaws or limitations of the film. My goal is to at least look at the negatives so see which would be worthwhile, some are pretty abused (on-line ones), but it's only a handful of the whole set. And I did upgrade to Silverfast AI but not studio. If the USGS agrees, I may do the upgrade.
    --Scott--

    Scott M. Knowles, MS-Geography
    scott@wsrphoto.com

    "All things merge into one, and a river flows through it."
    - Norman MacLean

  4. #4

    Re: 1896 negatives

    Scott, on my experience, flatbed scanners don't deal very well with high densities usually found on those ancient negatives. I would try to test it with a grayscale or alike, so you can find the upmost limit and maybe select only softer negatives.

  5. #5

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    You make a good point. That's why I suggested the Multi Scanning option the Silverfast Ai Studio version offers. I use that myself with old glass negatives occasionally and a lot with the rather dense b&w slides I use for my own work. I find it very helpful.

  6. #6

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Cesar Barreto View Post
    Scott, on my experience, flatbed scanners don't deal very well with high densities usually found on those ancient negatives. I would try to test it with a grayscale or alike, so you can find the upmost limit and maybe select only softer negatives.
    Thanks. Looking at the available on-line images, the higher (1600 dpi) seem to only make the digital image worse, and scanning a lower resolutions (300-600 dpi) would probably be the optimium. As said, you can't recover information that wasn't there or have been lost (like a washouted sky). The first bunch, if the argeement goes through, will be spent testing and testing.

    My goal is to identify the locations of the photos and take newer ones (time snapshots) along with the field notes, trace the route of the expedition. In 1896 there were only a two main and a few Indian trails around Mt. Rainier and most of the expedition scrambled through forests and over rocks and glaciers.

    Anyway, it will be interesting to do.
    --Scott--

    Scott M. Knowles, MS-Geography
    scott@wsrphoto.com

    "All things merge into one, and a river flows through it."
    - Norman MacLean

  7. #7

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Have you measured the transmission density of these negatives? Many, perhaps most, negatives from that period have very high transmission density and you may not be able to capture the high values with a consumer scanner like the V750.

    Sandy King


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Knowles View Post
    I talking with a USGS about some photos taken on an 1896 expedition around Mt. Rainier, see inventory to date. I found an orignal copy of the report with the images as print plates, description and found where the original negatives are archived.

    The USGS is slowly scanning them, see the information and scanning Web pages, but few of the ones I want, the 16 in the report and likely 2-3 times more unpublished, aren't ready and they're not progessing terribly fast (only 10% of 300,000 done). They offered to add my request to the 'to do" list and send a CD when ready.

    Since they seem to simply scanning them for near original condition, I'm offering to (re)scan them to share the digital files, providing their original version (at higher resolution) and mine (cleaned up), so I'm curious what suggestions folks have if/when I get them (the USGS is not into "loaning" original material, but I'm using my former status as a retired USGS scientist and contacts to persuade them I'm not an image terrorist) with such old negatives.

    I'm using an Epson V750 scanner with either the Epson or Silverfast software. Judging from the current ones on-line I'm not sure how much can be done to salvage the damage, but it seems worth the effort (ok, to me anyway). Also, I'm confused why you scan at 600 dpi but produce jpeg's to 1400 and 1600 dpi. Why?

  8. #8
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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Scott, Ctein recently published a book that may be helpful in this project, especially if you've never done any restoration work before:

    http://photo-repair.com/DigiRestBook.htm

    See also the table of contents:

    http://photo-repair.com/DRBookPromo/DR_TOC.htm

  9. #9

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    Re: 1896 negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    Have you measured the transmission density of these negatives?
    No, I'm ahead of myself, still negotiating with the USGS to transfer the negatives to the local office and loan them to me. They don't plan to get to them for awhile. They're also scanning them for preservation, replicating the existing negative. I thought I would see what can be cleaned up from time and use.

    And yes, it's fair to say it new to me, only scanning some late 1940's transparency film. I don't plan to be fancy and it is a good question how much is enough or too much in the editing for fingerprints, scratches, spots, etc. But I can't tell what's possible without seeing the negatives and learn what's possible, if only ya'll are right.

    I just hate to see some interesting photos collect dust and even though the USGS will get there, it will be some time and the photos will still need work. And thanks for the book referene. I'll go find it.
    --Scott--

    Scott M. Knowles, MS-Geography
    scott@wsrphoto.com

    "All things merge into one, and a river flows through it."
    - Norman MacLean

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