Photography as a hobby

I have been an on-and-off amateur photographer since I was about 13 years old, and have thousands of black and white negatives stored away from my past. Most are in 35 mm format, but the earlier ones are in 3 1/4 by 2 1/4 format or 2 1/2 by 2 1/2. I no longer have prints for the majority of them. I also have many colour negatives, and most of the corresponding prints are in albums.

I used to process monochrome film and make enlargements, but was without equipment from about 1990 to 1999. I have now re-equipped myself with a modest darkroom and Durst enlarger, but rarely seem to find the time to use them.

By about 2010 I had digitized all my old negatives. The 35mm ones were easy, using a gadget fro Staples, but the larger ones needed more creativity, with a digital camera and lashed-up lighting. By 2033 I have just under 20,000 images, totalling about 30 Gbytes.


I have a rather motley collection.


I don't have one. I used to be able to use one at work for the odd picture, but I am looking for a model that will handle both 35 mm and larger negatives, as well as prints. It must be compatible with the "gphoto2" software that has been released as an open source product, and should work with a USB connection. There are a few on the market that fit this specification, but I haven't chosen one yet.

More recently, a scanning app on my Samsung cellphone does an adequate job for making copies of documents, and there is no real need for a scanner.

Copying old negatives

I found it easy to use the Canon A70 to copy old negatives, by using the lens from an old pair of binoculars as a macro lens. The automatic focusing works well, and I was able to copy about 500 old family photos, dating back to the 1950s, in a few hours. The old 3.5*2.5 inch negatives were easy, and so were the 2.25*2.25 ones taken with an Agfa Isolette I had for many years. (I deeply regret trading it in when I bought the Retina 2C, but it was the only way I had enough money back in those golden college days).

I built a simple mount to hold the negatives, and a couple of halogen lamps from Ikea to provide illumination. I then wrote a script using ImageMagick's "convert" option to enhance the contrast and invert them so they were no longer negatives.

Here are some examples:
Family Home in Leicester, 1945
Family Home in Letchworth, 1947
Family Home in Chesham, 1958
Family Home above Old Bank House, Alcester, 1960
Family Home in Leicester, 1974
Railway warning sign (June 1899)

Last updated : 2020-03-21