Five more things I learned scanning 1,751 35mm negatives

Megapixels don’t matter

No, seriously, they don’t. See that image at the top of the page? It isn’t actually one that I scanned myself. It was shot on APS film and scanned, in-lab, at the time of processing. The original scan was 1326 x 746 pixels – around one megapixel. It was also the first photo I ever sold for use on a book jacket. The publisher didn’t ask for a higher resolution image, and so I have never re-scanned it. Sometimes, one megapixel is all you need.

Film isn’t like digital

Ever wondered why so many people edit their photos to look like film? It’s because film has its own unique look. Again, see that image at the top of the page? I cloned out a power line, lowered the saturation, and I was done.

Film just works. If your negative is well exposed and in good condition, and your scan is good quality, chances are you won’t need to edit it. The look you are looking for is already there.

Negatives need careful storage

Fungus kills! Store your negatives carefully.

You don’t need to take hundreds of photos

For my 40th birthday, I went to New York. For this holiday of a lifetime, I packed three films. After deleting the trash and the duplicates, I picked 52 photos that were worth keeping. For my last holiday in Arran – just three hours drive away – I came home with around 500 photos, of which I kept 162.

Is Arran a better photographic destination than New York? For me, no, not really. Urban is more my thing than landscape. Do I have more great photos of Arran than New York? Again, no. They’re both great destinations, they both delivered great photos. Do I feel short-changed by my small image haul from New York? Definitely not. They fill a small album, and tell the story of my holiday. And that’s why I took my camera.

Life has surface noise

Or, to put it another way, film has grain. That seems like a bad thing. Digital photographers spend a lot of time eliminating noise from their images. But grain isn’t noise. Grain adds texture. Grain feels real.

It’s like John Peel once said when people complained about records because they had surface noise. Life has surface noise. Life has grain. Film feels real.

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post about scanning 35mm negatives. If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll find it here.

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