Revisiting old negatives, how often

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by BirgerA, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. BirgerA

    BirgerA Member

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    Hello all

    I'm currently working on digitizing my negatives, for the purpose of having a database. In doing this I've found a few images that I will try to print and that were overlooked in the initial evaluation of the negatives.

    This makes me wonder, how often do others take a look through their old negatives to see if there are any hidden treasures there?

    Regards

    Birger A.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have a database of my negatives and keep notes this helps when going back to older negatives. So if I'm working on a project I can quickly go to the relevant negatives and look at images I've not used before.

    This came in useful when I was asked to put on a large exhibition and needed to tailor the images to suit the venue & potential audience, I was taking images from two existing bodies of work and adding additional images to make the final selection more relevant & coherent. The images spanned a 20 year period.

    Ian
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    In the past few years, I've had not only a resurgence in my photography output, but also a few epiphanies about printing. So, It has become a semi-project to revisit old negatives and see what I can do with them. In the process, I've discovered that there are negatives that are simply "different" to me now, in addition to my possibly being able to print them better.

    In 2006, I was invited to a "gathering" of photographers, so I made a portfolio of 12 prints to take to that event. It was well received and it included not only some new work, but a few negs from years ago. St. Ansel once said: "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." So I've decided to print a portfolio of 12 each year. Adams was no doubt talking about making 12 new photos a year, but I'm going to include old negatives each year because they will be "new" to me.

    So, to answer the OP question: "how often do others take a look through their old negatives" - about once a year.
     
  4. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Since my large format negatives aren't well catalogued, they get frequent reviews. Each review is a treasure hunt. 35mm negatives are catalogued, and some gems among them will never get a second look.
     
  5. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    As I have contact sheets for all my films, I often look through them just in case a potential 'treasure' has been over looked.

    Also I reprint old negatives from time to time because I may have a different 'feel' about them then when they were first printed. For example I might now consider them too dark or too light, too contrasty or too soft. To print them on different paper or a different size.
     
  6. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    Not as often as I would like :sad: Time just isn't on my side---damn work keeps getting is the way. But I have gone through my old contact sheets looked at a pic and said to myself-----hummm why didn't I print that at the time???? Then I answer---because you didn't have the time. At which point I seek counseling because I am talking to myself again and answering myself too :wink:
     
  7. Dietmar Wolf

    Dietmar Wolf Member

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    Never. Throw them away.
     
  8. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Aarghh! You jesteth surely? When I first started photography back in the early 70's, my negs weren't contact printed. Anyway, a couple of years ago, I eventually got around to doing just this. Amongst the pretty awful stuff that - as a 13 year old spotty yoof - I churned out, was an incredible shot of my Dad. It is one of the best pictures I've ever taken - period. On the negative it looked very thin and unpromising and had I not seen it in the positive, it would likely have remained unprinted.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I sometimes go through my negs and see what I can find from the past that might interest me. Then when comes time to print, I try one or two out that caught my eye. Sometimes I get something good, other times I don't. It puts things in perspective, however, and I find it is fun because I can relive the moment I clicked the shutter.
    What's weird is that I can almost always remember what lens I used for those old negs.
    - Thomas
     
  10. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    I'm looking through old negatives...although instead of searching for "hidden treasures"...I'm looking for mediocre negatives to torture with boiling water to see if I can turn blah images into interesting ones
     
  11. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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    I own a lab in Sydney australia and i am finding I'm getting more and more requests from professional photographers who have gone digital to scan
    literally thousands of frames from their careers as they are wanting to convert their library of film to digital.
    it is a growing area of my buisness however it is intensely time consuming.

    ~Steve Frizza
    The Lighthouse Lab
     
  12. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Considering how many negatives I have that have not even been contact printed, I really should get some made for a lot of my LF negs (and even some small/med. format negs too). I want to make some more pt/pd prints this year too.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I think I gave up contact printing 20 years ago, they don't tell me much and I can read the negatives far better. I would consider a quick neg scan into my database as that would be far more useful.

    I have boxes & boxes of contact sheets but still prefer to look at the negatives with a loupe - well an 90mm f1.9 Oscilloscope lens to be more precise. From the negative I can more accurately assess the dodging & burning needed and also the paper contrast.

    Ian
     
  14. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Great thread. Inspired me to redo a couple last night.
     
  15. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    I have many oldies (negatives) and I look at them periodically. I'm looking for something I may have missed previously and often find things, some of them challenging, sometimes just to try some new materials; paper, developer, etc.

    I like to view raw negatives on a light box to see all of its potential. It's the way I do it, I'm just lazy I guess!

    The idea of viewing them on a computer did cross my mind, though.

    Regards,

    Paul
     
  16. dferrie

    dferrie Member

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    I like the idea of scanning my old negs, what type of database are you using?

    David
     
  17. BirgerA

    BirgerA Member

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    I'm using a database called PixFiler

    www.pixfiler.com

    and I'm quite happy with it.

    Regards

    Birger A.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i am doing just that now ...
    i have a stack of negatives
    and i am printing / scanning
    overlooked, unseen, outtake and outcast negatives
    from the past 15-20 years.

    some of them i wonder why they were overlooked, unseen and outcast
    in the first place, and i wonder why it was that i chose the ones i chose to
    print in the first place.

    i don't have enough storage for a digital catalog.
    so i just shuffle and look ( no contact sheets either ).
    someone is going to have a bunch of fun when i am dead
    (and a big dumpster to rent).

    john
     
  19. Maris

    Maris Member

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    In practice I rarely revisit a negative unless all the gelatin-silvers or platinums from it are sold out.

    Years ago I figured that one of the most powerful attractions of photography was the way it facilitates the pursuit of new work. Compare this to say aquatint etching where the perfect plate is so hard-won that printing long editions of old stuff is the only way to get worthwhile productivity.

    Because most negatives will never be seen again I made a pact with myself to make at least two perfect gelatin-silvers from each and every one (ok, blanks and blunders aside) before going on and exposing more film. Because editing is foregone there are no overlooked treasures lurking in the files. All the failures mis-identified as masterpieces are there too.
     
  20. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    As I learn/try new printing techniques and paper, dev., toning combinations, I’ll look back at old contact sheets and see if anything new I learned would work on a neg. I had not printed before.

    I would say I look back through my old negs. About every 2 years or so.

    Mike