The story behind Fragments of Vancouver

A number of years ago the negatives that make up the archive were acquired at auction and set aside.  At the time it was evident that the film was suffering some deterioration so work began on creating telecine equipment to capture the individual images with the intent of keeping the film intact and on their original rolls.  During a later status check on the film it was clear that the deterioration had progressed and quicker action was needed.  The rolls were moved to refrigerated storage to slow further degradation.  The plan to scan the film on the original rolls was abandoned due to the sticky residue and fragmentation of the film base. Due to this worsening condition, some of it hidden, it also became apparent that saving the film itself was no longer realistic and that the documenting of the images was of greater importance.

What is happening

The film is being carefully removed off the roll, sometimes just as fragments.  Everything that can possibly be digitized is then scanned and saved in an uncompressed form.  These files constitute the master files that are then stored unedited.  Further processing is done to copies of these files and presented here for viewing.  More information regarding processes and tests will be added by way of Blog posts.


The film

The base of the film is celluloid nitrate which poses a number of problems, one of which is that the film amalgamates into solid areas with complete image loss. The film can no longer be considered as archival and even with unlimited resources storing it would pose numerous problems.  It eventually will be sent for professional waste disposal.  This image shows an area with complete image loss that made up around 15% of this roll.


The scanning

The image area of each frame is 18.75mm x 24.75mm they are being scanned at 3200 DPI using an Epson V700 scanner.  The images on the film are half frame 35mm thus yielding files of approximately 2400×3100 pixels.  Motion blur, issues of focus and the condition of the film itself have shown that scanning at higher resolutions does not record a greater degree of information.  Also 8 bit monochrome was determined to be sufficient to capture all the gradation present.

About Fragments of Vancouver

Fragments of Vancouver is an effort to rescue images taken on the streets of Vancouver BC during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s by a street photography company.  Preliminary indications are that this was the James Photo Service company.

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