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Grand Canyon, remastered

On Tuesday, when I got back from New York, a box was waiting for me at home with the rescans of my photos of the Grand Canyon, which I took in the summer of 2004, during a ten day hike along the Tonto trail. Perhaps my most difficult adventure to date. Back in 2004, I asked the lab to scan my negatives to CD-ROM. Then, Guillermo, Elisabeth and I pooled all our photos together, filtered them, added narrative, and built a website for our journey.

Many things have changed since 2004. I now use a digital camera (another Canon EOS), and I use a GPS receiver to geo-locate the photos, so that the can be displayed on a map. I use a photo sharing website instead of building my own web albums. I upload full resolution photos to the photo site, and it takes care of generating different sizes to fit the web browser. The original size is always available.

My old web albums are starting to show their limitations. The Grand Canyon album uses 900x700 pixel images, which don’t take advantage of today’s screens. Also, the quality of the scans leaves much to be desired, when compared to the photos from my digital reflex camera. I had been looking for ways to rescan the negatives, and I read about several companies that would handle the rescanning cheaply, using high quality negative scanners. I chose one, ScanCafe, and sent them a test batch, and then all seven of my Grand Canyon film rolls (my favorite: Fuji Superia Reala 100 ISO). I’m happy with the results.

Here are a few comparisons. On the left are the old scans, on the right the new ones. You can click on the images to enlarge:

Several things are interesting to note. The new scans have much better color saturation. They have less contrast: the lights and the darks are more moderate. As a result, there appears to be less definition. However, the old scans’s higher contrast was attained at the cost of burning the clear tones, and blackening the dark tones. Also, the old scans had been sharpened, to give a greater feeling of resolution in the small image sizes of the day (the old scans were less than 2 megapixels, the new ones are over 11 megapixels). The sharpening results in more noise, particularly apparent in photos with craggy rocks or bushes.

To sum it up, I think the new scans are a big improvement. I’ve been pestering Elisabeth so that she, too, rescans her photos, and when she does, I will update the Grand Canyon album with the new images. You can see the rescans of my Grand Canyon photos. Also, you can see Guillermo’s original photos (from a digital camera).

Now I want to rescan all my film photos, and especially my New Zealand rolls. Dang, this photography business is absorbing!