Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Blue Album

Before our family vacation, I was able to take apart and scan the pages from a large-format photo album that I'll just call the "Blue Album." This album was easy to disassemble because it was held together with a string. The full pages were too large to fit on the scanner, but I took digital photos of each page to help preserve the layout, and then took a high-resolution scan of each photo, and a lower-resolution scan of each caption.

The photographs in the Blue Album are in mixed condition -- some of the black-and-white portraits are absolutely mint, but many of the color snapshots are fading badly. The pages are fibrous, acidic black construction paper, as was commonly used. It sheds little black fibers everywhere, so despite my best efforts at cleaning the scanner glass and dusting the pages between scans there are little black fibers on some of the images. I will need to do some extra cleanup with Photoshop in some cases. Some individual pictures have torn spots where glue has stuck to the prints, but most of them are in decent enough shape. I considered various preservation options up to possibly soaking the prints off the pages, but in the end just reassembled the album and put it in a sturdy drop-front box from Archival Methods. I made several gold DVD+R backups of the images. I will eventually get these sent off to Linda.

Anyway, we took the train to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and I took the album in its big black box with me. I presented the reassembled "Blue Album" to the family. Linda and David got a chance to look at it, and Joan and Don took it back to Myrtle Beach, along with Marcella Armstrong's journal. I have not yet finished reading and transcribing the journal yet, so I am hoping to borrow it back at some point, and perhaps to get it bound in a new cover while I'm at it.

Meanwhile, I have also done a first round of cleanup and enhancement on the images from the blue album. I am trying to come up with a more efficient workflow -- uploading images individually to Blogger tends to be very slow and unreliable. Aperture can export a web album, so I'm trying that. I've taken my picks for the best photos from the Blue Album and put them into a web album. On this G5 iMac, Aperture takes a very long time to generate the web album -- in fact, it has been at it for a couple of hours, but the time estimate keeps going up, not down. When it is done, I will upload this web gallery separately to my Dreamhost space and provide a link here.

While assembling the gallery, I realized that I apparently missed scanning the images from one of the album pages. These are three black-and-white portraits of Linda. The page they are attached to was badly torn, so I probably was having trouble getting the photos onto the scanner without tearing the page apart completely. I must have set it aside to scan later and then reassembled the book without getting to them. Fortunately, I do have the low-resolution digital photo of that particular album page, although it shows some distortion due to the angle. I may also have other copies of one or more of these prints elsewhere in the collection. If not, I'll have to see if I can eventually get these three portraits scanned.

One last thing -- while there are numerous pictures of me in this album, including some I don't think exist elsewhere in the collection, there are unfortunately none of my brother Brian. Apparently this album was assembled before pictures of Brian were available. This doesn't mean there aren't lots of pictures of Brian! I have many, many more in the collection, and will get to them as I work my way through the project.

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