3 Easy Steps to Photos that Endure Time

By David Henderson, publisher and co-founder of BoomerCafé.

Looking through some old faded photos of my children, parents and grandparents, my memories slipped to times and places recorded many years ago. Memories are treasured, I have found as I get older. Photos help us relive memories of people or places that have been special in life.

Faded photo: David and his daughter on a walk about 25 years ago.

Faded photo: David and his daughter on a walk about 25 years ago.

Even though I used a professional quality Nikon to shoot those images decades ago, the prints have faded and gotten fuzzy. And, I found myself appreciating even more the phenomenal image quality of modern digital cameras.

As baby boomers, we may find more time for travel and exploration of new places. I want to preserve the newer memories through photos, and digital photography makes it easy.

But … that new digital camera you may have gotten — perhaps over the holidays — will not capture great images until it is properly configured.

Digital cameras today have a somewhat magical power to create, to capture memories. But, it’s a mistake to take a new camera out of the box and start snapping images. Digital cameras — whether a $140 Canon point and shoot or a $7,000 Leica — must first be configured.

Camera makers ship digital cameras with image resolution set, by default, either to low or medium. Sure, lower resolution permits taking images on a memory card but those photos may look just as fuzzy as 35 year old film prints.

The primary objective is to take higher resolution photos. Here’s why – a high resolution image can easily be made smaller, but a low or medium resolution image cannot be enlarged. Correctly adjusting settings is easy but frequently ignored or overlooked.

Here’s how to do it right –

  • Buy a large capacity camera memory card: I recommend nothing less than 8GB. It’s cheap, about $10. A large memory card will store lots of high resolution images. My sources are B&H Photo and DataMem.com but many places sell memory cards. Don’t skimp! Buy a couple of extra cards.
  • Format the card: Insert the memory card into your camera. Press the “Menu” button on the back of the camera, and explore the menu options. Find “Format” card. The card will be formatted to match your camera.
  • Set the resolution: Press the “Function” button on the back. On some cameras, like my Fuji X100, it’s the “Menu” button. What you are looking for is the Shooting Menu to adjust Image Size and Image Quality. Set Image Size to Large, and adjust Image Quality to Fine.
Camera image quality settings.

Camera image quality settings.

That’s it! Now you are ready to capture memories in the highest resolution possible from your camera. Yes, the file size of each photo will be large but the payoff are photos of enduring quality.

Oh, yes … what to do about those old film photographs and negatives that contain treasured images.  Here’s what I do and what I suggest — contact Duggal in New York.  Duggal is a caring company that knows the importance of preserving our cherished photos.  They are the people who stepped forward following the destruction in New York and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy and provided free assistance to help people save photos damaged by the storm.  Best part is that Duggal is reasonable.

Got a question? Send me an email: david@boomercafe.com.

Let me sign off with a memory …

Do you remember the great TV commercial Kodak ran back in the 1970s called, “The Times of Our Lives.” Kodak understood back then that their film and cameras were actually creating memories. They were selling a good way to capture the magic of memories.


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