About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for Negatives and Photo Storage #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to week three of the A to Z Blog Challenge. My theme for the month of April is Scrapbooking, and I’m using the alphabet to post daily tips on the hobby I love.

Today’s letter is integral to both scrapbooking and photography – N is for Negatives and Photo Storage.

To begin, photos are one of the cornerstones of scrapbooking. Whether your albums of traditional paper or digital, photographs fill your pages. It’s the way you source your photographs that has changed with the advent of technology.

If you were born before the year 2000, it’s likely you have a fair understanding of film negatives. The celluloid imprint of your photo images, they are how traditional photo prints are made.

I’m the archivist in my family, and I scan and store all of our photos.

Even if you're a child of the new millennia, your family photos will involve film in some form.

Here are the ways that you store your scrapbooking photos:

Digital is the modern standard for photography, but preservation still comes with several challenges.

-         Memory Cards - Most digital cameras use memory cards. Just like a cassette tape or CD, if the card becomes damaged, or does not read before you transfer them to a computer, then your photos can be lost. A second issue that happens frequently is the maxing out of card space, and having to guess what pictures are on what card.

-         Phone/Computer/Device Failure – This is another common pitfall. If you keep all of your photos on your phone or computer, and the device crashes (or your phone gets dunked in water), then a lot of your cherished photos can’t be retrieved.

Ways to Save the Day Digitally:

-         Cloud Storage – Many tech providers offer free Cloud services that store photos, music, and other data. Should a phone/computer disaster befall you, the photos can be accessed from the cloud.

-         External Hard Drives – If you prefer not to rely on non-tangible technology, you can also invest in a back-up drive. This is a separate device that acts like a “Computer Brain” for the purpose of saving all the data stored on your computer. The price ranges depending on much space you need. I purchased a drive with a lot of space so it would last me a long time. I back-up every six months, and it has served me well.

And as we live in this high-tech age, the ability to transfer vintage pictures (both print and negative) to digital is important.

One way to convert existing print photos into digital form is by using a scanner.

Many printers offer a copier/scanner combination at a fair cost.

Once the device is set up and synced to your computer, you simply upload, edit, and save.

·        The cons of this process are poor image quality and resolution. Many vintage photos are a size 3.5 x 3.75 inches, and do not offer much scan area, which causes pixelization when you zoom in.

Another way to safeguard your treasured photos is to have them professionally scanned.

This process is where you mail your photo negatives in, and the service provider will scan, color correct, and burn the high resolution to a CD for storage.

The provider I recommend for this service is ScanCafe.

The Pros:

-         Professional Correction – The photos come back looking better than ever. If aged, or damaged, the provider will fix the image as part of the service.

-         High-Resolution – The original film is returned to you with CD containing all of the images in digital negative form. The pictures are super large (10MP) – bigger than what you camera can take, which gives you a lot of resolution with both traditional print and digital upload.

This is a film negative of me with a Llama that I had converted to digital.
When I zoom-in, the high resolution allows me to see a super-clear, happy Llama face.

Note: This image was one of a row of negatives from a farm trip I went on with my family (I'm not a Llama enthusiast or anything). I just didn't bother to cut one frame away from the more important images on the same film roll, which is another consideration with negative restoration. You can hold the film up to the light to determine which negative frames you want to pay to have converted, or you can save yourself the guesswork and clipping by simply sending them all.

Annnd now I have The Llama Song stuck in my head. Moving on...

-         Compact Storage – The resulting CDs come in cases that are easy to store, catalog, and access.

-         Multiple Film Options – Many providers offer restoration for film, slides, video, and B&W.

The Cons:
-         Pricey – While the preservation of your memories carries no price tag, you will want to brace yourself the shell shock of the bill. It’s practical to send a bunch of your negatives at once to save on shipping and other costs (and to just take care of it all in one swoop). The service providers do an excellent job, but the individual scan prices are itemized based on what options you’re going with (correction, high-res, CD), and the quarter here, $5.99 there, adds up.

-         Risk – You will be sending a decades' worth of your family’s irreplaceable film negatives via U.S. Post. ‘Nuff Said.

-         Time – Film restoration is not a fast process – it could be months before you get your negatives back.

Despite those vices, negative scanning is a good system. I’ve been most impressed with the result for digital restoration, and it’s helped me preserve many of my valued photographs.

And so ends our Monday post. That was an education in photography, wasn't it? 

I’m striving to alternate the heavy topics with the fun ones – so tomorrow’s letter will be a light letter, I promise.

If you would like to leave a comment below, either about photo storage or my scrapbooking theme, I’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise, the challenge continues tomorrow with - *drumrolllll* - O is Origami.

See you then!

-         SNG


  1. This is quite informative b cause I wonder what to do with the photos. I have a physical back up but if there is ever a fire, will I know to grab that back up? I am thinking about the cloud but I don't even know how to begin this plus I heard it takes up a lot of memory or space...??

    1. Hi Birgit - Sorry for the late reply. The middle of the week is when I start slacking. :/ I think the same thing! You when they ask, "If there was a fire, what would you grab?" I've seen that a lot of Clouds offer an introductory service but then they eventually charge or raise the price for more memory. It's a tough call.

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