I still recall having exposed rolls of film on my dresser just waiting until I had saved enough of my allowance to have them developed, and then the excitement of tearing open the envelope, while still in the drugstore, for a quick first view of the printed pictures, weeks after the photo was originally taken. Black and white was the only option; colour film may have been available in that format back then but the cost was beyond my very modest budget.
As a consequence I have stacks of photo albums bursting at the seams, many thousands of digital images on my computer, envelopes full of negatives, and tray upon tray of Kodachrome slides.
Of all the formats the least convenient were the slides. While I liked the sharpness of the direct image and the brightness of the colours they were a pain to view. It was always such a production to drag out the projector and set up the screen that the pictures would languish for months and years without ever being seen.
Last year I finally decided to do something with those slides and embarked on what became a lengthy project to convert them to digital. Sadly, 40+ years of storage had not been gentle on them. Dust, fading, and colour-shifting meant that many of the images required significant post-processing to make them even marginally acceptable. Many were beyond saving.
But I am now done. The projector has been recycled to someone going through the same exercise, I have a few more cubic feet of cleared space in my storage closet, and many lost memories have resurfaced. For I came to realise that was the ultimate value of the exercise, to travel back in time and relive past experiences, childhood pets, first cars, ski and motorcycle trips, and good times with friends and relatives – some of whom are, sadly, no longer with us.
So get out those albums, browse your photo files, even drag out the projector if necessary, but enjoy the images you took way back then; they are of no value stuck away in the dark – digital or otherwise.