Cutting the Clutter

Cutting the Clutter (photo courtesy of AP)

Toronto. Remember the family album or the old shoe box of prints? Like all families, mine and my wife’s folks would take out an album or a box and lovingly go over the pictures bringing back fond and not so fond memories of times past. I used a film camera for many years and carefully saved each roll of negatives carefully inserted in sleeves marked with details like date, contents, developer, etc. vowing that when I retired I would have time to print all the negatives. Yeh, right.

Fortunately progress intervened and I bought a series of computers. ACD Systems offered the first digital album I bought finally allowing me to keyword and store my digital “negatives” and prints. Then Adobe Lightroom came along and I switched over to the ideal package for me. As the program progressed, it became more and more the ideal tool for a photographer allowing me to edit, keyword, comment, store and print every shot. When I moved from Windows to a Mac I discovered my Lightroom disk had both Windows and Mac programs on it.

Initially I shot digital images in JPEG format. Later on I used a camera capable of RAW format. In Lightroom, I was able read the RAW files and convert them to a universal standard called DNG. As digital cameras evolved, the file format they used also evolved and older formats fell to disuse. The Adobe programs read many kinds of file formats and convert them all to the open source DNG format. (read this article for an alternative view of DNG.)

Initially I scanned negatives and prints into Lightroom, then I moved to using a copy stand and  digital camera for the negatives. This set up worked fast and at a reasonable resolution for my negatives. I made a reverse H&D curve to convert negatives – colour and monochrome – to prints in Lightroom. I used a robin’s egg blue book cover to reflect light through the colour negatives to allow me to correct and reverse each frame to a  positive image in Lightroom.

On July 25th, the Globe and Mail published an article by Lisa A. Flam of the Associated Press  called “Cutting the clutter: How to edit and organize a lifetime of pictures“. The article resonated with me. It proposed that a digital file and backup should replace the old physical prints documenting family history. She offers the option of discarding the originals after scanning them into a computer although I am keeping the prints to pass on and the negatives for future use (maybe).

Have a read and think about who will see the photos in the future. I know some members strongly feel that every desirable digital image should be printed since it can then be viewed without recourse to any device. But today most pictures are taken by a smartphone and viewed online on one of the many social media sites. Few pictures are ever printed for the modern audience, it seems.

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