Lessons from the Field of scanning old film archives

OogieM

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Just a quick note on a few things I've learned over the last few weeks scanning lots of old slides and negatives.

When sorting out various film rolls(my file naming scheme has a field for roll number) get as close as you can, then scan into a working folder using VueScan’s default numbering and renumber/rename into final folders out of the working scans folder.

Since some of the “roll numbers” were at best approximations, plan on redoing them as you see fit. If there are no written records of what is what then might as well make it easy on yourself and renumber as required.

When looking at deer/elk heads, you can often determine roll numbers by carefully looking at the antler structure. If the animal has a different antler point structure, it's probably a different year or at lest a different hunter. (Bonus, check the big game licensing in the satte in effect at the time to detemine whether any given hunter can harvest 1 or more of any particlar sex of animal. )

If a slide mount or negative mount has a number make every effort to find the related frames and KEEP THE SAME NUMBER.
 

PhilBurton

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Just a quick note on a few things I've learned over the last few weeks scanning lots of old slides and negatives.

When sorting out various film rolls(my file naming scheme has a field for roll number) get as close as you can, then scan into a working folder using VueScan’s default numbering and renumber/rename into final folders out of the working scans folder.

Since some of the “roll numbers” were at best approximations, plan on redoing them as you see fit. If there are no written records of what is what then might as well make it easy on yourself and renumber as required.
Who or what created the roll numbers?

When looking at deer/elk heads, you can often determine roll numbers by carefully looking at the antler structure. If the animal has a different antler point structure, it's probably a different year or at lest a different hunter. (Bonus, check the big game licensing in the satte in effect at the time to detemine whether any given hunter can harvest 1 or more of any particlar sex of animal. )
Can't comment here. I photograph trains a lot.

If a slide mount or negative mount has a number make every effort to find the related frames and KEEP THE SAME NUMBER.
Sounds good. I would add that for slides processed by Kodak, also record those odd codes that indicate the month of processing and the processing lab.

Phil
 

OogieM

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Roll numbers came from handwritten notes from either my mother or my father, both of whom have been dead for over 20 years now. New ones I've created myself after careful verification sometimes by piecing the negative (which were all hand cut into frames) by lining up the cut edges like puzzle pieces.

Antlers grow very individually. I think my mother grouped all elk and deer hunting shots together. Until they were scanned and I could see the positive I'd have believed the deer were the same and the elk the same. Turns out only 1 elk so far but at least 3 different deer.

All slides and negatives were hand processed by my parents. I don't have any of theirs that were processed by Kodak in this batch. So no help there.

A few of the 2 1/4 x 2/ 1/4 positives are mounted in kodak slide mounts but were processed by a photo shop in Denver in the 60's. No numbers or identifying info on the mounts though.
 

OogieM

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I know this is old but a few more tips and tricks and even some solutions to the terrible support from VueScan for scanning items in something other than his default order.

My film holders for the 2 1/4 inch square films hold 6 frames. The scan order is down 3 frams then across then down 3 more. Often the film is cut 2 frames on one peice so I really needed scan across then down then across and so on but VueScan won't support that. The rolls of film are 12 frames per roll. My solution is after sorting them so I know th eorder and frame numebrs I scan the first 6 with my file names starting at 10. Second set stats with frame numbers at 20. While the second set is scanning I rename the first set accurately.

When faced with a pile of negatives the following things can be used to put them into rolls.

Since many of these were hand cut but don't have frame numbers on the film itself you can often piece together the shot sequence by matching up the cut lines like a puzzle.

Looking at the lines on the edges, the film color cast and type also helps get them grouped accurately.

Items with the same subject may not be the same roll.

Any given roll may and often does contain several subjects.

To date pictures look for car makes, license plates and magazine or newspapers. I've circa dated some pictures by finding magazine covers in the picture so I know the picture is after the publication date. Same thing for newspapers and license plate dates.

When in doubt label a group by subject as a separate "roll" number but be willing to edit that later if you find more that match.

Fashion is not a very good indicator of the year in detail but can get you in the decade.
 

Victoria Bampton

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Thanks for sharing Oogie. Sounds like the project's making good progress!
 

OogieM

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Thanks for sharing Oogie. Sounds like the project's making good progress!
Yes, I'm down to less than 150 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 B&W negatives and less than 130 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 color ones.

I still have over 200 2.5in x 1.6 inch B&W negatives that I have no film holder for at all that I'm trying to figure out how to scan.

Haven't started on the 35mm film at all yet. I have B&W, Color and slide film in that format. Total estimated about 35K images to scan.

Slow but steady progress.
 

joegranados

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Hi Oogie,
I've seen some messages from you a while ago that you had the problem with adobe creative cloud app.
I'm having the same problem and i wanted to ask you whether you finally solved that. If so, would you please be so kind to share your experience so perhaps i can fix the error?

I'm having the problem with adobe illustrator, but i think the cause may be the same.
Any info will be highly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Josep.
 

OogieM

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Hi Oogie,
I've seen some messages from you a while ago that you had the problem with adobe creative cloud app.
I'm having the same problem and i wanted to ask you whether you finally solved that. If so, would you please be so kind to share your experience so perhaps i can fix the error?
Not really, It still periodically needs to be re-downloaded and updated. Sorry
 

OogieM

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And yet another update on the huge family archive/scanning project.

As of Monday, 11 March I finished scanning all the 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch film both negatives and slides. Average time to scan and rename was 4.5 minutes per image. All these items were saved as TIFF files and have been imported into the Lightroom catalog with a set of process keywords so I know where I am.

The keywording structure has been defined. I am using a robust set of hierarchical keywords which was tested on a subset of about 2500 images before I've made it the standard. I also now have a procedure for how to add keywords and am in the process of writing down my rules and workflow processes for future reference.

I still don't have carriers that I can use to hold the 127 film that work with my old flatbed scanner so that part, 215 images, is on hold. I also have a few other small amounts of really odd size square film that I have to build holders for. My husband is looking at 3d printing some for me as soon as we design the holder cad file.

I went through all sorts of evaluations on how to scan/digitize the roughly 30k collection of 35mm slides that are a combination of those from my parents, myself, my husband and my stepdad. The 3 remaining folks, me, hubby and stepdad, discussed many options including building a copy stand or sending them out to a service for scanning. The time needed to handle the copy stand scanning using a digital camera is huge. The cost to send them out is huge. We could spend hours selecting just a few items to scan but that also takes lots of time. Our final solution was that we purchased a SlideSnap Pro system. We have access to a number of digital cameras ranging from a 12MP Nikon D700 to a 24MP Fuji XT2. We also have several options for lenses including an old but excellent Nikon MicroNikkor 55mm.

SlideSnap Pro

We did not get the camera system they recommended because of the cameras we had available. Initial set-up of the machine was easy. Getting a camera and lens option that works and fills the frame with the slide is proving a bit more problematic. Focusing is also a bit hard since our best lens, my MicroNikkor, is manual and also old and very stiff and hard to turn. We're considering sending it off to Nikon for a refurbishment. We're also trying to verify the scan resolutions claimed before really going to town on the scanning. However for shear speed the system is unmatched. We're getting speeds of 80 slides digitized in 4 minutes while saving both Raw and JPEG files. If we switch to their recommended JPEG only the speed can be increased a bit. The max they say you can get is 30 slides a minute. We're doing about 20. Far more time is spent cleaning them and loading the carousels. But the cleaning time would have to happen no matter what we used for scanning and loading carousels is faster than putting them in a copy stand jig one at a time. We have not yet experimented with tethering to Lightroom although we plan to test that as soon as the external power supply for the camera arrives.

The remaining issues are deciding whether to convert the raw files to DNG and use that plus a JPEG file as a set in the catalog or use JPEG only. I'm waffling. My initial thoughts are to go JPEG only, get them all done and in the catalog and then as the top ones are identified considering re-scanning them and saving both types of files. I'll go post a question about that on another thread.
 
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