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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How safe is your film?

I've been doing some scanning lately. Getting some of my favourite film images up on my new website. And I've discovered something pretty scary - many of them aren't in as good a condition as I hoped.

In this digital age we're always told to back up up the wazoo in case of terminal hard drive/DVD/CD/Blu-Ray failure. But how many of us are looking after our film archive?

After all many of us were shooting film for a lot longer than we've been shooting digital and have some pretty precious stuff in there. Whether it be pictures of family and friends, treasured moments or just holiday snaps.

Now if you live in the Sahara Desert you're probably doing OK but if you live anywhere that's got a bit of moisture in it you could be breeding fungus. Fungus doesn't just grow in the lunchbox of your kids when you forget to clean it out for a couple of weeks. It also lives in camera lenses and eats film. You can see its fine tendrils stretching out over your trannie like an evil spider web.

And that's what I found on this image above and it took a lot of work in Photoshop to clean it up. Now granted I live in a pretty hot and humid part of the world but I take precautions like putting moisture zapping buckets in the filing cabinet etc. I have a friend who has all his film in an air-conditioned, dehumidified room and he still gets fungus in his slides!

So if you're reading this and thinking you could have a problem I urge you to go and pull out those precious film memories and take a look. And if there are any that are looking suspicious take the time to get them scanned straight away. After all you can always back up your scans on 100 different types of media if you want but once that one film image is gone it's gone forever.

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