Playing With Negatives: Bent Creek Bridge Ruins
With the Nikon
If you haven't been paying attention, lately I've been playing with old negatives from way back in the film days. My biggest challenge in this has been determining the best way to convert the negatives to digital.
For this experiment I used both a Canon flatbed scanner and my Nikon D5500. Someone suggested that I use my camera with a macro lens and photograph the negatives. For a backlight, I downloaded a light table app and placed the negative on my phone with the brightness all the way up. The result is the first image above.
The second method involves a flatbed scanner. I used the flashlight on my phone filtered through a single sheet of printer paper to backlight the negative.
With the flatbed
As you can see, it pretty much turned the negative into a black and white. Not a huge problem for this image, but for a lot of others I would like color. I have had some come out with color before, but it's pretty hit or miss. It's pretty hard to get the backlight right, and I think that is the key to getting the proper color.
After scanning I used Krita and PicsArt to edit the images into proper photos. For the Nikon "scan" I used Krita.
This is how it turned out:
I'm pretty pleased with the results of that process, as time consuming as it is, it's definitely worth it.
I used PicsArt to edit the flatbed scan. As it was pretty much black and white I used a bit of a sepia tone to liven it up. It turned out like this:
It's not bad, but with a more "modern" image it would be better to have true colors.
If I had to pick a process it would be the Nikon process. It's a bit more of a pain to set up, but the images come out much better. Even the resolution is better, it may not be obvious on these smaller versions (had to shrink them down for Ecency filesize limits) but there are very obvious lines of pixels on the flatbed scan. This is probably due to having to zoom in the scan on the tiny negative. Even at the highest dpi it still created lines on the image.
If you're curious about the subject, it took some digging but I found it on Google maps. When I was a kid my Boy Scout troop used to do a week-long canoe trip on Virginia's James River. This particular spot is the remains of the Bent Creek bridge.
The original bridge was a covered bridge built by German immigrants in the 1830's. It was so large they held public gatherings on it. In 1865 it was burned by locals to keep Union soldiers from crossing over it. The original pilons were removed to pave local roads. The current pilons (which these pictures capture) are remains of a 1920 bridge. I couldn't find anything about when it collapsed, but the remains are now accessible by the Bent Creek boat ramp.
Keep an eye out, I'll be posting more of these little experiments as I try them. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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