Saturday, June 23, 2012

Slide into summer by sharing old slides

It’s time to slide. Put on a swimming suit and shoot down a Slip ‘N Slide in the backyard. Slide into home plate.  Cook some sliders on the barbecue. Glide down the slippery slide in the park.

And slide into favor with family members by sharing memories from old photographic slides gathering dust in closets.

Baby boomers HAVE slides—back in the day (1950s through 1990s) we took mountains of slides, which were cheaper to develop and of higher quality than prints. 

Did we look at them? Not at our house. Although my parents owned a sparkly–white screen and an old-fashioned slide projector, my husband and I never purchased those luxuries.  As a result, we squinted at our slides against the light only when we wanted to make a few prints.

You can’t enjoy slides unless you have a free evening, a projector to enlarge the images and a screen, or a white sheet or wall, to display the photos. Or you can make them into prints, costing around .49 each at film developing outlets.

Enter modern technology. There are several ways to digitize slides, and once it’s done, you can use the images to create slideshows on your computer, email them to others, make prints (cheaper than .49) through online services, and burn them to dvds to share.

My husband recently scanned a box of slides and burned them to dvds to share at a family reunion. It was so fun that we’ve added this service to our home business; many photo developing sites also offer this service.

So what’s the best way to digitize slides?

First, a definition: Dots per inch (dpi) is a measure of spatial printing or video dot density, and generally—not always—a higher dpi correlates with better image resolution.

Dave Dyer, an expert, compared the outcome on one slide image using seven methods: using copier attachments for flatbed scanners—1.) a cheaper model with 1200 dpi and 2.) a unit with 2000 dpi; using a digital camera to photograph slides—3.) a projector based copier with 1800 dpi, which projected the image onto a screen and 4.) a direct copy attachment that holds the slide and attaches to a digital camera,  2400 dpi;  using slide scanners built for this purpose only—5.) an older model, 2400 dpi, 6.) a modern unit, 2820 dpi and 7.) a professional scanner used by a professional, with 4000 dpi. See
All seven images were OK, but I felt that #1—with the lowest dpi, done on a flatbed scanner—was the best quality photo. Great—that’s the kind of scanner we have!

Dyer wrote, “Resolution isn't everything. Color and contrast are equally important . . .”

Cleaning dust from slides is key. Scanners with Image Correction and Enhancement (ICE) technology hide dust, but it’s good to clean slides using compressed air and an antistatic brush (photo developers do this when turning slides into prints.)

After using a flatbed scanner, you can enhance the quality of too-dark slide images if you have the right software on your computer.

Bring a smile to your loved ones this summer—slide those boxes off the shelf and share photos from 20, 30 and 40 years ago. If you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself, check into local businesses that offer this service. 


  1. Some great slides. The one of Aunt E is beautiful! I can't wait to see the rest!

  2. One of my favorite things to do while growing up was to sit with the family and watch slides. About 10 years ago, I took my Kodak Carousel to school and showed slides of going down the Colorado River (because we had read a book about the same area.) The students were in awe of the slide projector and asked, "How old is that thing?" I don't know if any of them had ever seen such a machine before.

  3. I have been in a "photographic time machine" myself--sorting the box of pix I got from Grammy's. I am sending them back to the reunion with Andi, but Oh, how I wish I got to be there myself! I am also attempting to make a DVD for all of you sibs--I found the video of Mom's final testimony and story of her courtship, and edited it. If nothing else, I am posting it to youtube, but in a lesser form.

  4. Thanks for that, Barbara-- Yes, we also loved to have a slideshow-- they could go on for hours. One of our favorite family stories is how one night, the couch was filled with Judy's boyfriend "Normy", then Judy, then Bruce, during the show. Normy had his arm around Judy and Bruce would stroke Normy's hand as if it was Judy stroking his hand. Normy was giving Judy significant looks and she just thought he was crazy!

    Marie, I've loved the slides you've shared on Facebook and can't wait to see the dvd! Also, to hear the video. Someday I will add things to Brenda & Shae's courtship story from a younger sister's POV. ;)