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" The Canisters"


Film was stored in these canisters since 1933 and before.

The film collection came to me in the box of canisters shown above. All but three were labeled with enough information to help me determine where some of the shots were made, but as I discovered, the labels didn't cover everything I found on the film. Of course, there is no guarantee that the film in each canister was in the correct canister. Time and ID help from many visitors to the site filled in numerous blanks over the past few years. 

When I first took the film out, it was quickly apparent that the images seemed to be a good shape, but the film itself was like uncoiling spring steel. Handling this film would be difficult without getting it to relax to a reasonable amount. On the advice of a retired photography professor friend, I carefully rewound each roll onto a developing real and rewashed it for about an hour, treated them with PhotoFlo, and hung them to dry. This worked, restoring the film's elasticity to about 80% or so.

The next step was to cut the uncut rolls into 5 frame strips and store them in archival sleeve pages in a binder with weight on the pages. I hoped that the weight would help to re-flatten the film over time. After more than ten years, it has helped.

Then each negative was scanned in order to build an archive, organize it and begin the identifying process. The initial scans are basic for cataloging purposes, and for building this web gallery. Prints that received purchase requests are rescanned on my Nikon 8000 film scanner at high resolution. The resulting file is worked over to clean up imperfections resulting in a final, printable file that would make Walker proud!

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