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Film Negatives to Digital

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By Dillon Wallace

Back before digital photography made instant photo taking and sharing as easy as point, shoot and post, we all dealt with developing rolls of film. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t just snap a selfie (that term didn’t even exist, BTW) and instantly preview it to make sure your duck face was on point. No, you would have to look through the viewfinder of whatever camera you were shooting with and just hope for the best when you took your film roll in to the pharmacy to get developed. And when you got that little paper sleeve full of your 4x6 photos, mixed in between all those pics of people sporting red eyes or closed eyes, were thin brown strips with mini-pictures on them – aka, your negatives.

You probably never paid much attention to those negatives, other than checking out how weird they looked when held up to the light, but in reality, those were your actual pictures. And if you still have a bunch of old film negatives laying around, then you’re sitting on a nostalgic photo goldmine.

What are negatives?

Simply put, negatives are your actual pictures. They’re what allow you to take film and turn it into printed pictures. They’re called negatives because they’re just that – the exact inverse of what the final picture will be. Whites are actually blacks, blacks are actually whites, etcetera, etcetera.


How do negatives work?

We all know the camera process works by exposing film to light. And if you didn’t know that, well, now you do. That light exposure causes chemicals in the film to react depending on the kind of light. So when you take them to get developed, that exposed film is turned into usable images and then printed for your viewing and future-framing pleasure.


And those little brown strips of negatives are what’s left of the film that was in your camera, post chemical development process.


The picture power of negatives

Like we said earlier, negatives are what allow you to make printed pictures. And the colors are the exact opposite of the final pictures you print. But to get to this point, negatives are projected through what’s called an enlarger on photo paper. The enlarger shines light through your negatives and the result is projected onto photo paper. The colors are flipped and they create the lovely pictures you have hanging on your wall,  propped up in frames on your mantel or stashed away in brimming photo albums.


Converting negatives to digital

What may have seemed like an insignificant part of your developed photos back in the day, is actually the most vital part to preserving their future existence. Sure you can scan actual photos or take digital pictures of them, but the original negatives give you the ability to make physical copies of your original images, blow them up to a bigger scale and create digital backups. Because let’s face it, your old pictures – all those precious and irreplaceable memories – could use a contingency plan.


That’s where Kodak Digitizing Box can help! We can make digital backups of all your negatives so that you don’t have to worry about the safety of the environment in which they’re stored. After all, negatives are super fragile – oil from fingerprints, too much light exposure, even old age can ruin them. So digitize today with us and turn a potential negative situation into a positive memory … oh, sappy photo pun for the win!

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