Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Physical Deterioration, Digital Decay

Over at Down the Road, Jim Grey is scanning some negatives he took back in 1982, pictures of friends and memories from his high school days.

This hits a note for me, because I have a huge box of negatives in the attic from my peak photography days in 1990-1992. I was working in one hour photo labs and as a photographer's assistant, and so I got discounted film and prints and free processing. Well, technically processing was supposed to be discounted, too, but no manager I ever worked for cared if you ran your film through the processor during a lull in the workday or charged you to do so, since there was no actual cost to the company for it.

The funny thing is that most of my earliest digital photographs, from the early Mavica days in late '01 up through probably 2007 or so, are inaccessible to me right now. Anything I kept saved to a hard drive is quietly succumbing to bit rot on a dusty Celeron tower in a cobwebby corner of the attic. Anything I didn't save to HDD, well... who knows where those floppies are, assuming I even bothered to save them through two moves?

I've been a much better digital custodian since then, and have photos saved to multiple places, but I really should get a proper on-site RAID setup, rather than using just the single external HDD I am now.

I should also look into scanning some of those old negatives. I mean, I've got photos of Lance Armstrong winning the First Union Grand Prix in Atlanta, his first big race win, in there someplace.

I don't know whether I should get a proper scanner, or just a simple light table and use my phone for a scanner, though...