and scans, Film, 35mm, and scans, photography, Uncategorized

Shoe Box Photography


I’m investigating snapshot photography, what it really means, and it’s value as a school of photography.  I visited my mother today, and nothing to do with this blog or investigation, but suddenly, the magic shoe box of old family photographs was pushed onto my lap.

I always loved browsing through these old photographs.  It seems a shame, that we print far less in the Age of Digital, and that future generations will miss out on this magic.

These photographs were shot on a roll film (120) camera, with narrow frames, that allowed more photographs to be captured.  However, they were printed from the negatives direct onto Ilford paper with no enlargement.  Tiny little prints.  They would have been taken during the mid 1950s.

The top photo is of my parents themselves.  A snapshot or a portrait?  My father was dressed up to the nines.  Apparently at that age, he did like to doll up though, so it may not have been a special event.  Funny, because later in life, he’d as often as not be found in a pair of work overalls.

The composition and framing are cracking.  It may have been my mother’s sister Gladys taking the photograph – using a box camera top viewer.  Not the easiest viewer to use – but look at the composition.  The trees, field, road edge line up perfectly, with the couple right of centre.  Happy accident or did the photographer, with no training from Digital Photography magazine, just know what looked best?

The bottom photo is of my mother’s sister, Gladys, with her fiancé Kenny at Great Yarmouth.  The two couples were having fun taking photographs of each other.  What is the camera that Gladys is holding?  It looks like a simple box camera.  Photography was bringing them joy and happiness, that is what serious photographers today often miss out on.  Snapshot photography was fun, but also recorded moments – the Kodak Moment sometimes.

The more that I look into it, the more that I respect snapshot photography.

Film, 35mm, and scans

More treasures from old film negatives

Family snapshot of my young daughters on a family day out. Taken circa 1998? with some point and shoot autofocus compact camera and Kodak Gold colour 35mm film. Negative scanned with a Canoscan 5600F CCD scanner.  Touched up and cropped with Gimp 2.8 software

Those autofocus compact 35mm film cameras were getting so good during the late 1990s, shortly before digital came along.  I love old family snapshots as I call them.  I loved those boxes of family photos that we all had, and are now threatened with extinction, or at least, lacking the richness of odd, unselected, poor shots that told so many tales.  So I’m gradually sieving through a box of film negatives from the 1990s, and CCD scanning them.  I keep coming up with beauts, and treasured moments like the above one.

Family snapshots – a forgotten treasure and art.  Social history.

Film, 35mm, and scans, Rants and discussions

Family Snap Negatives

A family holiday snap from a holiday park around 1999. Taken with a 1990s 35mm film point & shoot compact camera on Kodak Gold 100 film. Scanned negative.

Things have changed so quickly, and we forget so much in a such little time.  There I was, snapping photos on a compact film camera in 1999.  I had been using film cameras since I was a boy, when I started with a Kodak Instamatic on a 126 film cartridge – passed through Polaroids, and then onto a series of 35 mm compact point & shoot cameras.  My brother owned a Canon AE1 SLR, and I was envious of that camera.  I grew up in the age of film.

I bought my first digital camera I guess around 2000.  My local camera shop wouldn’t sell digital cameras, as they were said that they were not up to scratch.  I was told, “anyway, a 35 mm photo only costs a few pennies”.  My first digital was a horrible Chinese Premier camera with a tiny internal storage.  I didn’t look back though for 12 years – I then progressed onto digital Canon Powershots, then Fujifilm bridge cameras, then onto D-SLRs.  Why on earth would I go back to film, with my instant, digital images?

Well here I am in 2012, and I’m enjoying my rediscovery of film. It’s not dead yet.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  It really is rediscovery, I’ve become so use to digital over the past 12 years, I had no idea how much I’ve forgotten.  I even found it difficult to load a film!  Old SLR cameras like my brother’s AE-1 are now cheap as chips.  People are surprised when they see you with a film camera – you get questioned on the difficulty of finding film (actually it’s still plentiful in the case of 35 mm rolls).  It’s incredible how quickly we forget.  Who would have thought that the tradition of film photography would die so suddenly, so quickly in the minds of the masses?

The above photo (I scanned it from a 35 mm film negative yesterday) is also representative of another tradition – the family holiday (vacation in US English) snapshot with a point and click camera.  That is a fine tradition, and I’m not ashamed to have been part of it.  It’s just that all too often, the modern digital descendant is not printed.  We rely to much on digital storage – these are key family memories that should be printed and stored – kept in boxes and albums, presented in frames – not enjoyed for a few weeks on the soft memory of a mobile phone or lap top only to be deleted or thrown away.  Think about printing them.  You wont have a box of negatives to fall back onto.