To scan or not to scan…

I’m trying to psych myself into buying a cheap film scanner.

I’m on my third scanner in three years, and I’ve finally found an inexpensive flatbed I like (an HP 5370E). But like every other scanner I’ve tried with a transparency adapter, it sucks at scanning negatives. It’s a big issue for a number of reasons. I have a closet full of work-prints and such that I hauled back here with me, but I don’t really want to haul them if I move again. Negatives are nice, compact, irreplaceable. Prints, well, except for fine quality exhibition prints, they are just little memory devices and when you have lots of memories they are just untenable. It may sound odd, but part of the reason why I regularly include photographs on these pages is to remember substandard prints that I want to print again in the future. Sort of a running log of moments that I thought were good enough to keep around for a while, but still remain largely unrealized. Not to go all Ansel Adams on everybody, but prints are performances. Some of them have sour notes, and belong in the trash-bin though the basic score (negative) is sound. Besides, they weigh a ton when you have as many of them as I do. Electrons on a screen are much lighter, just for memory purposes anyway.

I’m not a digi-geek. I don’t really even want a digital camera. The best analogy would be that I’m a guitar player; I don’t want to take up synthesizer at this stage in life. I like the feel of the metal, looking through a window instead of guessing at an LCD. I’ve told myself that I shouldn’t buy a scanner, because it will be like living in the past with the miles of film I’ve shot so far. It could be distracting, to be seized with the urge to keep looking back instead of ahead. I want to make new pictures, but I’d also like to make sense of some old ones. It will be a while before I have the time to start getting elbow-deep in chemistry again, and I’m getting itchy to do something, even if it is just imposing order on the road so far. The next bend is just too far away to see.