Old photos and negatives

I found several negatives from when I was scanning family photos – I had set them aside in an envelope to make sure I did not forget them when I sent the scanned photos back. Which is where they remained after I sent the scanned photos back.

Now the interesting thing is that I have scans of both the photos and the negatives for a couple of these. So it is possible to do side-by-side comparisons.

Original photo, developed November, 1955. © 1955 Maynard & Betty Ranum.
Scan from negative 1 Oct 2017, film originally developed November, 1955. © 1955 Maynard & Betty Ranum.

Or nearly. Obviously I flipped the negative, but notice how much was cropped in the original square print? The next obvious difference is how much the photo has faded over the years, despite not being displayed but stored in boxes. The negative is also degraded, most obviously with scratches and nicks in the surface, but the celluloid is certainly deteriorating – this scan was done monochrome, but the actual film is yellowing slightly with age from its base clear and colourless matrix.

Something which was not quite clear in the photo scan, but can been seen in the negative scan, is the classic child-out-of-focus issue. Terry – the toddler in the stroller/pusher – is slightly out of focus, while the leaves and grass about a foot or so behind him are crisp and clear. Particularly typical of the Kodak browning camera wielded by a fond parent taking candids of a mobile and excited kid, because you had to look down at the camera and adjust it. How long can you take your eyes off the toddler?

I am looking at the other negatives and finding other photos from the same events, but not the exact same shots. Which probably means there are more photos unscanned in my mother’s boxes, photos albums and scrapbooks I never located. Here are two of the negatives which required considerable tweaking to clean up even this well:

Betty Ranum, washing hair in the kitchen. ©1955 Maynard and Betty Ranum
Winthrop ladies in gowns. ©1955 Maynard and Betty Ranum

The image on the right is of an event involving a couple dozen ladies from the Winthrop community which I have been calling the Wedding Dress Tea. I have no idea of the circumstances, but a group of ladies in long dresses are having an event with refreshments al fresco; I have only one photo of my mother there, so I assume she was the camera person for all the other photos we have.

The image on the left is one of a series of dimly exposed images of her washing her hair in the kitchen sink; the house may be Grandma Clara Ranum’s in Viking. I had assumed over the years the photographer was my father, as she is clearly pretending to be offended by the paparazzi. However, the final photo in the series has her in the living room with my dad holding Terry as a baby, probably around June of 1955. Which means there had to be a third person present to take the photo, which leads me to conclude this was Ardith Chilson or Eileen Anderson – her closest personal friends at that period of her life.