A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Zeiss Ikon Memories

I recently began a project to scan my dad’s entire color slide archive. The thousands of slides provide a record of our family, and document my years growing up with my sister on Staten Island. When I was asked to take on the project, I knew it would be a major project that would take many hours to accomplish. I procrastinated for a number of years until my dad gave me a “fatherly” nudge to get going. He said he hoped that he was still around by the time I ever got around to digitizing his lifetime of memories. Well, that got me started, I’ll have to admit. He wanted his images preserved on DVD so he, along with his grand kids and great-grand kids would each have a permanent copy of this family record.

Well, I am happy to say, that I am almost finished with this Herculean effort. Not only did it involve scanning close to 600 slides (both 35mm and 120mm), there was a substantial amount of Photoshop work involved, along with minor scratch and spot removal as well as some color restoration. Fortunately, my dad almost always used Kodachrome film, which possibly, has the most stable dyes of any color reversal film on the market, even today. Thankfully, only minor color correction was required. I continue to be impressed with what digital ICE can do with respect to eliminating film scratches and dust spots. That fact, combined with the beautiful sharpness of the Nikon Coolscan 5000 and 9000 scanners really produced some amazing scans, many of which defy the fact that the photos were taken half a century ago. Except for the obvious changes in hair styles and fashions, one could easily be convinced that they were taken last week.

Although my original intent was to just scan all the images and put them on DVD, I thought it might be nice to produce a slide show set to music, and possibly, even produce a Blurb photo book of just the best shots. I have done a number of photo books in the past, and felt like this would be good to do, in order to give my parents easier access to their memories. Not computer savvy people, they would have no way of looking at the photos unless one of their grand children were close at hand and could load the DVD onto a laptop for them. A book would allow them to look at the photos any time, without assistance. Technology is great, but you have to have access to it. The book is almost done and will soon be on its way to the publisher.

The camera that my dad used to take the majority of the images was a Zeiss Ikon Contaflex. Made in Germany in the mid-50’s, it was made of all metal and glass and featured a very sharp fixed 45mm Tessar lens. Although a bit cumbersome by today’s standards due to a lack of internal exposure meter and a slow film loading process, it did take some superb photographs. My dad handed it down to me a number of years ago and I try to keep it clean and well maintained, although I do not use it. It has become a collector’s item to me, and while it won’t fetch much money on eBay, I wouldn’t trade it for ten Leica M8s. For the last photo of the book, I’m including this image of the Contaflex which made all these memories possible with the help of my dad’s appreciation for how fleeting time is and how important it is to preserve all our histories for the generations who come after us.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments