Saturday, October 21, 2017

Do you have any old slides that you want to scan? Here is my cheap and easy way to do it at home.

A couple months ago, we had a family friend who got ahold of some really old family photos. She came over and asked me if there was any way that I could convert her old slides to digital images. Since I do not own a slide scanner, I was about to tell her that there was nothing I could do, that was until I came up with a plan B.

I was holding one of her slides up to a light to see the image, when I came up with an idea.

I knew that I needed to backlight the slide to see the image, and I also knew that if I could get in close enough, I could capture a digital image of the slide. In order to get a good solid backlight, Here is what I came up with:

I turned on my desktop computer and launched Microsoft Word. I then opened a blank document so that I would have a large white light behind my slides.

I tried shooting some images of an old slide and quickly realized that I needed a better way to keep everything in focus.

I set up one of my Joby Gorilla Pods and a Manfrotto clamp to hold the slides.

I then mounted my Canon 5D Mark IV camera with the Canon 100mm macro lens on my Gitzo tripod. I moved the camera so that it was right up to the slide and then manually focused the lens to get a good sharp image. I set the camera to a 2 second timer mode (so that I would not shake the camera at all), and fired a shot of each slide. (Note: you do not need an expensive tripod or camera to do this, but a decent macro lens sure helps.)

One by one, I would take a photo and then replace the slide with another one. This worked so well that I ended up going deep into my closet and finding old slides that my father had taken back in the 1950s and 1960s. I wanted to convert all these too!

Here are a couple of things I learned in the process.

* Do not put the slide too close to your monitor, as the pixels will show up behind the slide image.
* It is best to have a clip or something to hold the slides in exactly the same position. this saves you having to reposition the lens before capturing each photo.
* It is set up the camera to capture all the slide in the sideways position. If the image was in portrait mode, it was easier to capture it sideways (instead of rotating the camera each time) and then rotate it later in Photo Mechanic or Photoshop.

So...what did slides did I convert? See for yourself. And yes, that is little ole me in the photos below.

(Notice that even then I must have been into photography, as I am holding a box from a roll of Kodak film.)

Oh - and don't forget the other advantage to scanning old slides. You can clean them up and correct them.

For instance, here is a slide that I found of my father and brother when Dave was a newborn.

As you can see, the white balance is way off and there are lots of scratches and dirt on the slide. I adjusted the white balance in Adobe Camera Raw to warm it up. I know for sure that my dad did not have blue skin.

Then I straightened the image and cropped the border out.

But I still had a really dirty image to clean up.

I used the healing brush to remove all the larger marks on my father face and background. I then created a separate layer and ran the "Dust & Scratches" filter in Photoshop to remove a lot of the dirt from his shirt and the wall paper in the background. Ta da! I have a nice image for myself and my family to remember my father by.

And just for the fun of it, I decided to do a little more retouching. I removed the harsh shadow to the left of my father, fixed his tie, and removed the chimney sticking out of the top of his head. I know, I know...I just changed history, but even though this is not what I would share with others, it was fun to do anyways.

I hope that this inspires all of you to get that old box of slides out of the closet and start converting them to digital images for you and your family.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

A visit to Las Vegas - A tribute to those we lost last week

This week I am in Las Vegas with my good friend, Glenn. The trip was planned months ago, and we had no idea that we would be visiting here at a time of such grief. Since we had some free time this morning, Glenn and I decided to visit the makeshift memorial that is near the Mandalay Bay Hotel, the concert site and the old Las Vegas welcome sign.

This blog post is dedicated to all those who lost their lives, and their friends and family.

Many people who come to Las Vegas like to take their photo in front of this sign on Las Vegas Boulevard. This would be the normal view.

Now this site is covered by flowers and many other tributes to the victims of this senseless crime. I framed this photo to include the flowers, the sign, the #Vegasstrong poster and the Mandalay Bay Hotel, all part of the story.

I saw this hat from the Manila on top of this large flower arrangement, and liked the many positive messages. I focused on the hat, changed my aperture to f/2.8, and got down low to include the sign in the background.

There are so many candles, cowboy boots, hats, CDs and other items. It is heartbreaking.

The signs for the concert are still up, and the police have cordoned off the area.

Looking up at the hotel, you can see where they have boarded up the two windows used by the mass murder.

There are hundreds of people lined up to walk through the memorial, with 58 crosses identifying all the people killed by this one horrible person.

As I read the names and messages, two things struck me. First, It seemed that their were an inordinate amount of females killed in this tragic event. (I just looked it up and it looks like 2/3 of the deceased were woman.) And secondly, I kept thinking to myself, "How could one person be so evil to do this cowardly act to all these innocent people?"

Even though it has been a week since the killings, people are still coming to drop off flowers, candles and more. There is even a group or people handing out free water to anyone who comes to the memorial. That alone made me happy, that people are showing the positive side of human nature at a time and place where there is not much positive to reflect on. (I was surprised that so many people were visiting the sign and doing jumps and other "fun" selfies in front of it, with all this remembrance surrounding the area. That seemed disrespectful to me.)

One cross after another...

I got down low to shoot this photo of the flags blowing, with the Mandalay Bay Hotel in the background, when I saw something poignant in the background.

Through the flags, I saw this woman praying. I quickly refocused on her and shot numerous photos to get her surrounded by the waving flags.

Last night was extremely windy here in Las Vegas and the desert sand was obviously blown everywhere, even here at the memorial. I saw this poster with photos of the deceased and thought that it said so much. I guess, like the band Kansas said, we are just dust in the wind.