Memories : good, bad and ugly

Mostly negative… i.e. as in Negatives of old family photos…

So - I’ve been working on this on, and off… and lot more “on” recently.

I have these format negatives (literally thousands - i.e. the family archive) :

  • 35 mm (called “135”) that’s so straightforward it doesn’t really bear discussing - all colour
  • 126 - it’s a nasty consumer-grade “instamatic” format - colour and black and white
  • 110 - another nasty consumer-grade format - it’s horribe and REALLY shit quality - all colour
    The trickiest format is :
  • 120 and 220 and 620 - these were the film formats popularised for use in Kodak’s “Box Brownie” cameras… They’re kinda horrible, and all different dimensions… I have negatives (Black and White) dating back over 80 years or so… My mum got a box brownie for her 12th or 13th birthday (circa 1950/51).

The negatives I’m MOST interested in are the 126 and the 120/220/620 box brownie negatives - I’m already finding happy snaps I don’t ever recall seeing before… I have literally THOUSANDS of negatives to get through… So I might scan “proof sheets” first, and batch process them with imagemagick.

On the weekend I bought a shonky thing the retailer advertised, on their shelves, as supporting 110 and 126 film negatives - got it home - and it DIDN’T - so I took it back the next day… and the quality was rubbish anyway…

So here’s what I’m going to do, and have purchased (on order) :

An A3 “light box” ostensibly marketed as a “tracing” solution.
A “selfie” stick for my Samsung with a tripod mount and remote bluetooth button (arrived today - works perfectly) - the main thing I wanted was the remote “shutter release” button doohicky…

My process will be :

  1. plonk a bunch of negs on the light box, which hopefully has a clear sheet to hold the negs down.
  2. mount my Galaxy S9+ on the selfie stick/tripod (and hooked up to my Linux computer via USB C)
  3. take photos with the bluetooth button, so it’s “steady” on the Samsung handset.
  4. proof the resulting photos (over USB in “realtime”)
  5. use imagemagick (e.g. “convert” and “mogrify” to invert the negatives).

Note - I tried doing the “scan” thing from a decent 14 MP Lumix digital camera and the results were HORRIBLE… ghastly…

When I start in “earnest” (can’t start till the light box arrives) - I might ask one of my daughters if we can try with an iPhone to compare results to what a Galaxy S9+ can do… I suspect there won’t be much difference…

Note : I LOVE :heart_eyes: ImageMagick… what a kickarse suite of CLI tools it is… who needs gimp anyway ??? Jeepers, I remember using some stuff from imagemagick in the 1990s, but mostly working with an “engineer” (as in internal combustion engineer) to get it compiled and working on Irix on Silicon Graphix MIPS64 systems running IRIX… I’ve spent days using imagemagick to remove non-black/gray (particular shades of gray) from a bunch of stuff I scanned on my MFP (brother).


I wonder: If you have negatives, you should be able to get contact prints, just the old-fashioned way with photo paper.

With the contact print and a magnifying glass, it will be easy to identify the ones that are worth rescuing. You can even scan the whole set of contact prints with an A4 scanner and crop out the pictures.

I did that a couple of years ago with negatives I had lying around: Took them to a photo lab (there were a few left in Berlin) and then took the photo sheet to an offset printer where they have really good scanning equipment and got a pendrive with the scan.

Here’s one of the resulting pictures:

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Loving those shoes. Though, the whole outfits are pretty classy, although I don’t quite grasp the meaning of the coats, yet. :thinking: Doctors? Lab rats? :laughing:

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School uniforms, very common in South America.

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Learning every day in my life… :smiley:


When I was a kid, we had those too, just in blue color. The lucky guys had it made of wool. The less lucky had it made of man-made fibres. (Me too).
That had a very special effect: walking while with shoulder rubbing against the plastic wainscot in the school, some could collect quite a lot electrons. Then stealthily approach someones earlobe with the finger from the back, until the flash strikes…
Oh those jumps!!!
Oh, my precious memories, those just that picture recalled… :sweat_smile:

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Most have been cold where you grew up.

The white ones are cotton (or synthetics if you’re poor). Still, the electric shock thing must have been fun.

VERY cute picture Mina - here’s a box brownie negative I scanned yesterday (it was 9 cm x 4.5 cm), of me, in a chicken shed (my grandparents owned a chook [Aussie for chicken] farm) - I hated chickens and was terrified there were evil ones living under my bed (I made it into a meme for social media and to amuse my mum - she’s 84 next week, she doesn’t do social media, but she loves email) :

Those vertical and horizontal “artifacts” in the image are 'cause I used a computer screen as the background white light, i.e. pixels)

I’d rather not pay someone to do it - 'cause I want “complete control” - and - it’s a problem I can solve myself…

I’ve bought stuff in the past - e.g. ~20 years ago I bought an Epson photo scanner (comes with an adaptor to put 35mm negatives, and another for 35 mm slides) - I managed to wrangle it to do colour 110 negatives too - but - it was a PITA, and cumbersome… and kinda cheeses me off… The way it works is it puts a white light behind the negative - but - in their infinite bullshit bastardry, the “marketing engineers” ensure that the only light strips were in the same fixed location where you’re forced to insert the film holders… If that light had covered the WHOLE BED of the flatbed scanner, it would have made things so much easier… but no… that would hurt sales of highter end models I’m guessing?

Anyway - that was some ~20 years ago, when my collection of negatives was ONLY 110 and 35 mm, and only about 20 years worth was before my mum entrusted me with the family negative collection…

So now I also have 126 and 120, 220 and 620 negatives to deal with (those last 3 are ALL black and white - and odd shapes and sizes, processing “labs” used to cut them to individual frames, instead of strips - most of them are about 6 cm x 9 cm, some are also 2.5 cm x 4.5 cm, each), and possibly 70-80 years !

I’m keen on the idea of scanning “proof sheets” of negatives then using imagemagick on them… And - one’s I’ve got it “down pat” - I can probably use imagemagick to separate grids into separate files, by cropping… it’s almost limitless what you can do with imagemagick…


Besides the school outfits, the furniture is very cool!

This was actually not a photo of my own (That’s why I covered the faces). Relatives of mine had asked me if I could turn their old negatives into digital.

What was your fee? :grin: Several years back, I had a large number of color slides that I converted to digital format, using a slide scanner. Worked fine, but it was a bit tedious!