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Preserving Images

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MickLL, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Prompted by posts in another part of the forum.

    We have had this discussion many times before but maybe something has changed. I'm of the school that thinks that the advent of digital has effectively destroyed the historic value of pictures taken by the 'man in the street'. I think that because I believe that such images won't survive for future generations.

    All magnetic media degrades, standards change, equipment changes and however diligent you might be your descendants won't be. In fact how many of your nearest and dearest even know how to access all of those images on your HDD or your phone?

    You will gather that I'm quite a fan of the proverbial shoe box.

    If you really are serious about preserving images for the long term how would you go about it?

    peterba and Catriona like this.
  2. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I think it's a generational thing.
    I like to look at old photos that I have (in shoeboxes, yes) and in fact, I probably refer to them more than going back on old digital photos I've taken.

    I think it's important to have family ones in hard copy, with clear notes on who they were/are! However, youngsters probably don't think the same way. It would be interesting to hear what younger generations feel is important about their own images and what they feel about preserving memories.
    peterba likes this.
  3. RobertCoombes

    RobertCoombes Well-Known Member

    Prints.Or if you want to preserve them all for future reference, film.Chuck your digital and move up to film. I have some negatives nearly fifty years old, filed by a method advised by Ron Spillman in the AP. Fold four sheets of quarto copy paper lengthways slightly offset by about an eighth of an inch. Staple them together again offset on the folded edge. This will now file six strips of thirty five mil film. Store in a manila envelope with details written. Contact on to ten by eight glossy and file cross referenced to film. And get a scanner.
  4. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    This desire for immortality through our pictures seems pointless to me. We've got a few dozen pictures from the family but can only guess at who they show because no one put the names on the back. This one for instance: my sister and I think the little girl on the left is our maternal grandmother but we've no way of being sure...

    Panasonic GM5_black 8GB 13 _1040393.JPG
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've never agreed with this view, TBH - pictures survive online long past the death of the photographer, and are thus available to a far wider audience than sticking them in a shoebox for your kids to throw out. I've just checked on Facebook on the page of a friend who died 7 years ago next month - everything is still there. And much of it tagged with those in it. Of course Facebook won't last for ever, but it stands a decent chance of outliving anyone who visits this page. And other online repositories exist. So no, don't waste time and money printing them, get them online if you want them to last.
  6. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    Ink jets now have permanence rating of up 200 years colour and 400 for B&W so prints are quite a good idea but that would obviously depend on storage system used. I have absolutely no idea of degradation rates of digital files.
  7. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I wasn't thinking of a 'desire for immortality' but rather more of the serendipitous value to, say, a historian when he finds the shoebox. I think it (mostly) unimportant that the historian knows the names of the subjects - much more valuable to know where and when . Of course there will be instances where that's wrong.

  8. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    A valid point of view of course but as we all (well 98.73% of us) have a shoebox but only 6.78% use on line storage there's still a huge loss of potential information. Equally I wasn't thinking , as I said to Andrew, of next year or even the next decade. I was think more or 100 or even 150 years time. Will facebook exist then? I guess not. I also guess that image storage will be (possibly unimaginably) different from now and just as 5.25 disks are pretty well useless now so will much of what we now accept as the norm.

  9. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Dunno about preserving images, but I'm pretty good at preserving oranges. Lots of home-made marmelade.

    More seriously, my wife and I have been married for 44 years, and we have at least one album for prints for each year, and two for some years when we lived somewhere interesting/dangerous/stupid. They will be passed on.

    What is done with them after that will probably not bother me much. :D
    Gezza likes this.
  10. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I was asked this question several decades ago when I was working in a UK defence related industry; and when we had started using IT but already it was obvious that early standards were being eclipsed etc., and my advice then was to use go down the archivally processed B&W Microfilm/Microfiche route. In extremis, viewing could be via an optical microscope, and it was in the days when we stored our daily IT transactions 40+ miles away - just in case of a nuclear strike... It was the days of V-bombers, nuclear bunkers etc.
  11. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    How many pictures do you have currently that are 100 or 150 years old? As an extended family, we have one, taken in 1916, of my great grandfather and those of his family not at war (so not including my grandfather or great uncle). My parents disposed of a large box of photos of another great uncle on the North West Frontier in 1919 with the Ghurkas when they moved - they simply had nowhere to store it, and neither did anyone else in the family at the time. If you want a picture to survive, put it in an expensive frame that won't get chucked out. I simply don't have any faith in shoeboxes, having seen what happens to them.

    I agree that storage media will change, but that's generally transparent with online storage, which is why I think it's by far the best bet for survival.
  12. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure that I have any that are 150 years old but I have quite a lot that (I think) are over 100. Can't be sure of course but knowing when a person was born and died and making a guess at their age in the picture makes me think that they have reached their century.

    Coming down the scale I have scores (maybe hundreds) of images between 70 and 80 years old . Many taken by me but lots more by my parents.

    All of my cousins pooled our own (old) family 'snaps' and we got a very interesting collection. A kind cousin then scanned them all and so we now have out own pics back in hard copy and all the rest electronically. I've printed some of the more interesting ones and stuffed them into the 'shoebox'.


    PS Since typing the above (my interest was piqued) I did a bit of research and reckon that the oldest (hard copy original) that I have is between 120 and 130 years old.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
    Benchista likes this.
  13. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    I have a few carte de visits from the 1870-80's. The oldest image is of my 3xgreat grandmother who died in 1861. She was born in the 1770's.

  14. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I want a nice big demijohn sealed at the top after filling it with family trees and significant pictures - both family and my own creations. I could ask for pics to be downloaded onto the latest mobile digital storage and give someone in the future a puzzle to work out how to read it. :D

    PS Forgot to say where!! Haha! In my grave!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  15. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I'd tend to say prints just from the point of view they date. To have a 100 year old image as fresh as the day it was taken strikes me as odd.
  16. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    So clearly, if they took the trouble to write on the back, it would be perfectly viable as an immortality resource. So not the medium, but the user at fault.

    I do mistrust all cloud storage after Kodak unplugged Ofoto, one of the first storage sites, a few years ago. However back-compatibility seems to be improving, so hopefully anything on a hard drive today will be capable of being saved to a new format, just as we moved up from CDs, to DVDs to 3TB external hard drives. The joy of discovering an old hard drive in a shoebox and getting the pics out of it will probably be quite the same as finding faded, dogeared, prints with creases and tears.
    EightBitTony and Catriona like this.
  17. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    No fault. Just real life.
  18. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    There's even a digital analog to the creases and tears. I recently found some photographs from my earliest digital camera, and the resolution was so small then, that they are *tiny* on the monitor I have now. So even though the file has no degraded, viewing it is a bit weird because the number of pixels per inch of visible monitor is now so much higher than it used to be. Quite funny.

    I also agree, we shouldn't trust a single cloud service, but as an overall solution, multiple cloud services are a good defense.

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