Author: Uncle Dick

You'll have to refer back to previous columns to see how the digitising of the slide collection started - the equipment and the discoveries. It is still going steadily, and this apparently is a good thing - a number of photography advice sites say that establishing a routine during a lock-down is a good method of maintaining sanity. I'm not sure if sanity and slide digitising in the same sentence is realistic, but so far I haven't heard voices. The silver elephant in the room is not actually colour slides - it's negatives. I started making these seriously in 1965 and that's not an inappropriate word. After serious came chronic, then grim, and it got worse before it got better. I was a person with money to buy a variety of films - and this meant that I chopped and changed about in emulsions all the time. The driving force was not necessity or skill - it was novelty and the blandishments of the advertisements in POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY and MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY. It was exactly analogous to the business of continuously switching powders,...

Every mothballed battleship needs a dedicated maintenance crew to make sure that the guns still work, the boiler is swept out, and the plug is still in the bilges. Plus you need to rotate the rats. Photographic organisations - clubs, businesses, and studios - need to do the same if they are going to be laid up in ordinary for several months.  Now is the time to go through your check list; Has everyone who owes you money paid it to you? If they are still dragging the chain get in touch with them and yank it smartly. It never does to be the last shy person in the line of creditors when the bottom of the money pot starts to appear. You may not be nice, but you might be paid. Does everyone know that you are still alive? I don't mean literally, though that is a thought...

If you do not have a discarded software manual somewhere in your workroom - shelf, box, or holding up a short table leg - are you even a photographer? In the film era we had manuals as well - the camera you bought came with one, and you balanced it on your knee as the plane flew you from the duty-free shop to the holiday destination. If you read it sober, you may well have succeeded with the holiday snaps. In any case, you brought it back, intending to read it carefully from cover to cover...

In my case I am shut into a studio, scale model workshop, and comfortable library with a drinks cabinet. As long as the supplies hold out, I am fine. The plan to distill liquor from potato peelings and old spray-painting rags is proceeding well and the still has only gone up in flames twice. Today's Shut-in Idea comes from a photo shoot that was done last year in the studio with John Harney. He's a marine seascape photographer who is wet more often than he is dry -  and wanted a page for one of his albums of pictures  - or for one of the calendars he produces. He came up with the idea of a set-up photo of himself and all the equipment he uses for the shots. You may have seen similar photos done be fire departments, military outfits, and sports clubs. They lay themselves out in precise form as if they were a G.I. Joe or Barbie play set. The work involved is considerable as there has to be a lot of precision in the concept as well as...

Most film photographers remember the amount of attention paid to photographic copying techniques in the decades leading up to the invention of the photo-copier and then to the digital era. From the most complex Linhof and Leica apparatus to the simplest Kodak Instamatic, there was some form of copying stand, frame, or lens combination. Chapters in all photographic books - and many specific texts - were devoted to copying. Some of it was accurate and some of it was approximate. We were also presented with such delicious ideas as the silver chain that dangled from the Minox B and C cameras. It had metal nubbins at intervals to let the copyist know how far the camera was from the material to be photographed. These were ex-Latvian spy cameras adapted for the civilian gadget market. I know plenty of people who owned one but very few ever actually took pictures with them. Not even the Latvian spies...

The next chapter of the Shut-Away Saga involves finances. If yours are dire you might think of skipping the week, but bear with us. There is light and loose change at the end of the tunnel. How much is this going to cost? Well, reading this column costs you nothing - and boy, do you get value for money. But if you are going to look at the digitising business it will cost something. You'll have to look at the cost of scanners, cameras, lenses, and ancillary supplies. or consider Plan C. Ancillaries first - FVE fluid is about $25 a bottle - surgical spirits or IPA about the same, I should say. Swisspers are about $ 5 for a big pack.The slide files are under a dollar apiece if you get a pack of 100. We'll assume you have a laptop or desktop, and some hard drive storage already, so you've already paid out for that. If you opt for Plan A - the scanner - you'll be confronted with a cost of about $ 999 for the Epson V 800. More if...

I'm still here and not breaking the rules. The idea of digitising my ageing slide collection gains traction. And as we said before, there are lots of ways to do this; I mentioned Plan A - the use of a dedicated Epson flatbed scanner - Plan B - the use of a home-made slide copier and digital camera - and PlanC - hand the slides in to Camera Electronic and let us get them digitised for you. I've considered the thing from several aspects; time, trouble, and expense. We are likely to be spending  a great deal of each of these in the next few months on other things, but let's keep to the digitising right now. I experimented agains a stop clock today to see what sort of time would be required to do the thing. I looked out two identical sets of slides kept in those old sticky PVC sheets, set up a cleaning station, and started the clock. In Plan A  the slides were swabbed with FVE cleaner, cleaned off with Swisspers cotton buds, and loaded into the Epson 12-shot...

If you are currently cooped up for any reason short of embezzlement, you may be able to put your time to use digitising your slides and prints. There are lots of ways of doing this - the Epson scanners were mentioned in previous posts. If you have a V-700,800, or 900, settle down seriously and use it. If you don't have one, come see us at Camera Electronic and we'll supply one. But if you don't want to go down the scanning route - Plan A - because of costs or noise or time required, there is a Plan B. It's more trouble to set up but might prove just as do-able for you. And you may own a number of the components for it right now. The Rube Goldberg device you see in these pictures is a simple frame made of scrap MDF board that allows you to accurately position a 35mm transparency in the 2 x 2 mount every time. It suspends a standard mirrorless camera - in this case my travelling Fujifilm X-t10 camera - and a macro lens...