As you may recall from prior columns, I have been spending a lot of time converting my old VHS and 8mm videotapes to DVDs. It's a very long and time consuming process, and I really am not making as much progress as I thought I would. Perhaps this year's family reunion in early August took its toll of my time.
But this work (such as it was) was recently interrupted by my wife, who is going through a home storage crisis. She says we don't have enough closet space in our house, and she began to single out one item that was taking up a lot of space - the 35mm slide collection and equipment. I had to do something about it and so here is the tale.
When we were first married and moved to Saugerties, NY, we took snapshots. I don't even remember what camera I had back then, but it was nothing special. The snapshots are, of course, piled in shoeboxes - when my wife discovers those, I hear another request coming along!
In 1975, we took a trip to Hawaii and I bought a 35mm camera for that trip. I had taken lots of 35mm photos and slides back in my youth (with my dad's patient help), but had gotten away from it in my college years. So I now had a new camera with an accessory wide-angle lens. But I wanted to take slides rather than photos because of the quality and ease of storage. I bought a Kodak slide projector and a screen to show them on. In the mean time, my sister had archived all of the old family slides, from back when I was a kid.
I actively took slides until 1981, at which time we moved to another town and I because involved in early VHS video. I stopped taking slides then, and actually haven't taken any slides since. So, it was a short-lived hobby, less than 10 years. But I did accumulate about 2000 slides. My dad's archives were also about that number.
In the mid 90's I bought a slide scanner for my PC. Many people believe that you can (or should be able to) scan slides with an ordinary flatbed scanner. Not so. First of all, slides need to be illuminated from the back - normal scanners do not have this capability. The ones that did have a backlit hood were usually intended for scanning overhead projector transparencies (8.5" x 11") and not little slides. Even if you used that backlight, most flatbed scanners at that time did not have enough resolution capability.
Once I had the slide scanner I scanned all of my dad's old slides and now have them on-file. I did scan some of my personal slides, but only select ones. I always figured that I could do it later. Later stretched on and on until…
With my wife making a fuss, it was time to do something about the slides. I bought three metal slide storage boxes from a camera supply vendor, and spent most of today moving the slides from the Kodak carousels to the storage boxes. Each box holds 750 slides and has organizer tabs.
We wanted to look at the slides before we moved them. I set up the projector and the screen, but when I turned on the projector the bulb flickered for about 1/10 of a second and then went out. Oh well, back in the box for it.
I also evaluated the scanning capability of my current (fairly high-end) flatbed scanner that does have built-in slide scanning capability and it seemed to work fairly well. But the thing I realized from this exercise is that I really have more slides to scan in than I thought. Add more work to the list!
If you don't want to do the work yourself, there are still places that will scan your slides for you, at around $.90 each. But if you have a lot of slides, I would caution you that this will not go on forever. Film and slides are rapidly giving way to digital photos, and there will come a day, sooner than later, when you will no longer be able to get slide scanning equipment or find a company to do it for you. Don't delay too long to save your precious family memories.
By the way, if anybody has a good home for a Kodak slide projector (needs bulb), a screen, and 13 Kodak slide carousels, please let me know!
(Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport / Oak Island area. You can visit his website at www.bobseidel.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org).