3 Easy Steps to Photos that Endure Time

We’re midway through the summer, so some of you baby boomers still have some kind of vacation trip ahead of you. But as baby boomers, we’re more than midway through life and maybe missed out on some technology that can make those vacations memorable. That’s where BoomerCafé co-founder and publisher David Henderson comes in. David knows cameras, and wants you to know more too.

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.

Claire_DH_Estes

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 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 Fuji 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.  You will regret capturing memories in postage stamp size digital files.

Think Big!

The primary objective of adjusting your camera is to take higher resolution photos which also yield larger file sizes. 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 SD camera memory card: I recommend nothing less than 8GB. It’s cheap, about $10. A larger memory card will store lots of high resolution images. My sources are B&H Photo and Amazon.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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5 Comments on "3 Easy Steps to Photos that Endure Time"

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Alan Paul
Guest

Great piece, David. I’ve been taking pictures all my life, with a variety of cameras, and I find I’m still learning. Especially with these somewhat confounding digital marvels. They’re great in many ways, but a great camera doesn’t take great photos by itself. This has been true throughout the history of photography.

Denver
Guest

I definitely agree on the largest resolution. I have a friend who shoots RAW files, they’re huge. My personal problem is the ease in which digital stills can be snapped and stored. With film, I would take two shots of a scene; with digital, six or eight. Then they get dumped onto the hard drive to be sorted, cropped, poor shots deleted, etc. at a later date that never seems to arrive. Maybe when I retire…..

Doug Nelson
Guest
Take family photos with a camera, not a phone. Too many photos on your phone, and they can be lost, stolen or forgotten. Spontaneity is fine, but try to make photography a deliberate act, to be done right and followed through on. Take David’s advice and set your camera, and save your files with the expectation that you’ll want to print them. Storage is cheap. The common 6 x 4 print size is 1800 pixels across the long dimension. Set the resolution as 300 pixels per inch. That way, if you want to print a 5 x 7 from this… Read more »
Doug Nelson
Guest

I should have brought out in my previous remark that a serious shooter should plan to use a photo editing program. This article:
https://www.dpreview.com/articles/3979871217/photoshop-alternatives?slide=5
suggests several. Also, see the reader comments for still more suggestions.
So, what would an editing program do for you? You can size your picture for its intended use, change the light/darks, contrast and color balance to your liking, remove unwanted elements (a stray foot into an otherwise great photo), print from the program and save to your treasure trove of important photos (CD, DVD, detachable hard drive, etc.).

Erin
Guest

While I remembered just some of the lyrics of the 1977 Kodak commercial song, the touching melody has never left me.

Seeing it again through adult eyes, I’m touched how the almost 40-year-old images of “The Times of Your Life”, like the perfect photograph, encapsulate our poignant, universal experiences.

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