This first section is about David's negatives. To discover more about his Photo Album, scroll down the page.
To avoid repeating myself, please see About This Site for the story of how David's negatives came to be in my possession.
This booklet of negatives — from which came all of the 1951 Road Trip Photos — slides into a protective black cardboard case (see the second photo, below). The first picture to the right shows the spine of the case. The spine measures 3-3/8 inches (8.7 cm) high by 1-1/4 inches (3.1 cm) wide. You can see the label on the spine, in good old Kodak yellow, on which David wrote the date and subjects of the photos.
The photo to the right shows the front of the cardboard case that holds the negative booklet. It measures 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide by 3-3/8 inches (8.7 cm) high by 1-1/4 inches (3.1 cm) deep. On the left you can see the finger cutout, which allows the negative booklet inside to be easily pulled out.
This next photo shows the spine of the negative booklet while the booklet is still inside its protective case. The spine measures 3-1/8 inches (8 cm) high by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. The imprint on the spine indicates the size of negatives this booklet is designed to hold: 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 inches (6 x 9 cm).
Now I've taken the negative booklet taken out of its case, with the pages fanned open a bit. There are 100 pocket sheets in the booklet, made out of a paper that reminds me of thin waxed paper. The "pockets" are open on the top and the outer edge, and each has a number stamped on it in blue ink, running from 1 to 100. Because there were originally 105 negatives in this booklet, the extra 5 were stored in individual, loose "pockets" made out of the same kind of paper, which were then laid in the back of the booklet. In addition to the dimensions of the spine (previous entry), the width of the booklet is 4-3/4 inches (12.2 cm).
The main reason that I started exploring the negatives in this booklet rather than the other boxes of negatives is shown in the photo to the right. Thanks to David's meticulous recordkeeping, each negative in the booklet has an entry describing what the subject of the photo is. This is the first page of the index, which lists the first 17 negatives. There are six pages in all, listing entries for all 105 photos. What a lifesaver! Here in David's own handwriting is the key to understanding all of the 1951 Road Trip Photos
Last but not least, here is the first of the 1951 Road Trip
6 x 9 cm negatives, which I placed on a light table in order to photograph. I wanted you to see what the full-sized negative looked like. For this Web site, I scanned each negative at 1750 DPI
in my Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner
, which has a special scanning light in the lid specifically for scanning negatives. Each scanned photo was then cropped, straightened when necessary, and then adjusted to restore its original quality and clarity. There was quite a bit of dust and lint on each photo, which I removed manually, in order to ensure the maximum quality, in Photoshop
. David's photos have truly never looked better!
When I was in the middle of creating this Web site, my aunt Sandra called me with some exciting news. For years she had never looked at a certain photo album in her possession, because it was stacked with a number of others that she knew contained her own photos. So imagine our astonishment when she flipped it open, only to discover that it was the very photo album I was longing for — the one her dad had made of their 1951 trip back East! What perfect timing! To the right are two pages from the album (which measures 21¾ x 12 inches when open), showing photos I had previously had (from the negatives), new photos (the negatives were missing), and places where missing photos once were, with only 60-year-old dried-out rubber cement to show their locations.
My mom, Gloria, who lives just a couple of miles from her twin sister, carefully packaged the album and mailed it to me. When I opened the package, it was like unwrapping some sort of ancient treasure. I was in awe! I KNEW that there were photos missing from the trip, but the other negatives had been lost. I was SO happy that most of the "missing photos" were right here in the photo album. In the end, between the negatives and the photos, I was missing only 5 photos out of a total of 145. I've been contacting some of the Kaukonen relatives, and two of the five missing photos have been found, and the other three just might end up being located too. I sure hope so!
To the right you can see a close-up of the bottom-right corner of the photo album two-page spread above. The picture (which, like all of the photos in the album, measures 4½ x 3⅝ inches) is one of the "missing photos" for which I had no negative. It's such a great shot that I'm very grateful it was still in the photo album. David had written all the captions in pencil, so before they sent me the album, my mom and my aunt traced all of his writing with red ink. Once I received the album, in order to help me keep things organized, I went through the album, numbering each photo (the number 66 above the photo), as well as numbering each page (the 17 near the bottom of the caption).
When David printed his negatives on paper, for some reason he chose to use paper that was not the same shape as the negatives. As you can see from the first of the two identical shots to the right, which is how the photo looks printed on paper, the shape is more squarish, like the older-style standard definition TV screens. The photo below it is the scan I made from the entire negative, which, as you can see, has more of a "widescreen" shape to it. You can also see that when David printed the photos, he cropped them, with some of the details of the picture cut off from the edges. The photo from the negative shows all four water-intake towers of the dam, plus more of the water and more of the sky. For this online photo album, I have always used the version of the picture that came from the negative, unless the negative was missing and I only had the paper photo to work with. By doing so, you have the privilege of seeing details in these photos that have not been seen during the entire 60 years of their existence!
In preparing these photos for display on this Web site, I have done a tremendous amount of restoration work. Many of the negatives had blemishes and defects. At first I thought it was due entirely to age, but once I saw the photos in the album, which were printed not long after the pictures were taken, I noticed that some of the prints have the same blemishes and defects. So I have worked with great care and effort on each photo to remove spots, dust and scratches on the negatives, and to fix the strange dark patches that appear in many of the photos. Also, numerous photos, especially the landscapes, were underexposed, and a large number of them had very low contrast, being just a muddle of grays. I have for the most part corrected these defects too.
Another problem with David's photo album pictures is the fact that they were printed on matte paper. While this kind of finish on the photographic paper might make the picture easier to see in direct light than a glossy photo, it is HORRIBLE for scanning, because the scanner picks up the matte texture of the paper and makes it much more obvious. To the right you can see a 100% magnification detail of Photo 34,
which clearly shows the rough matte texture of the photo paper. The sky should be a solid light gray color, instead of looking like it's made of cottage cheese! Because of this degredation in quality, I was forced to scan the photos from the album at a lower resolution. In contrast, I was able to scan the negatives at a much higher 1750 dpi resolution — many of those negative scans would look good printed even at poster size! And because the negatives didn't have that annoying matte texture, the details of the photos are suprisingly clear, as you can see when you look through the photo album on this Web site.
In some of the photos, David held the camera a bit crookedly, which makes the picture look tilted. From my photographic experience, I know how easy it is to make that mistake. While restoring the photos, I've also straightened them as necessary. Like me, David might have been really excited to use my new Sony a55 camera, which features an electronic level built in to the display! The images to the right show what the viewfinder looks like when holding the camera at an angle, and then when holding the camera straight. Pretty cool! With a feature like that, a photographer never needs to take a crooked picture again!
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