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Color Slide Digitizing - and the results are.....

Sep 4, 2009
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Centennial, CO
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Okay, folks. For those of you who followed my saga of searching for, and locating a service that I trusted to digitize 4,000 color slides, here are some sample results. They range in date from 1942 to the mid 80s. The films are various Ektachromes and Kodachromes. I have some Ansco (ugh!!!!) and Fuji slides, and even a few Agfa (very pastel) but none of them are included - at least in this initial batch. I might locate a few later just for color comparison.

Dps.Dave, the digitizing service, used software to clean up the slides as much as possible, and balance the color. Some of them show scratching or mildew, and there's not much to be done about that - just part of the memories. You can check their website to see the details of their resolution; let me tell you it's very high. I've included a blowup so you can see for yourselves. Understand that what you see here is not the resolution at which they arrived; I had to compress them or I probably would have blown up Flickr.

The pictures arrived as JPG files (about 4MB per file) on CD-ROMs. No trickery - the pictures are mine to do what I like with. Total cost was about $40 or so to ship, and $775 for their processing. They paid the cost of shipping to return the lot. At that quantity, their charge was 19 cents per slide, and no hidden costs. And in my book, it was worth every penny to get these photos of my mother, my late dad, my brother who died in 2010, and all the places my parents or I have been. Sadly, my dad didn't take slides while he was overseas in WW2, and most of the prints from that era have been lost over the years.

Here's their website: https://dpsdave.com/

Full disclosure: I made slight adjustments to a few of the pictures - changes in brightness, contrast, mid-tone, and I bumped the color saturation in 2 of them. Other than that, what you see is exactly what the original slides look like.

Okay, let the show begin.

My dad in 1941 or 42. I had never seen this picture before. Taken in San Antonio, probably just before, or just after, WW2 started. (Camera unknown)
Box 1 - 1 1940-48 Clarence - 0012 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

My parents met at church in '42. This is my mother, probably 19 years old. (Camera unknown)
Box 1 - 1 1940-48 Clarence - 0013 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Dad was sent to Michigan for cold weather training, then (thanks to Army efficiency) got orders for the South Pacific in 1943. He went through San Antonio, my parents had a whistle stop wedding, and he was off to Guadalcanal the next day. After the war ended and he mustered out, they finally had a honeymoon in Galveston.
Box 1 - 1 1940-48 Clarence - 0016 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

The carefree years - 1945-48. No babies, no Army uniform. (Camera unknown)
Box 1 - 1 1940-48 Clarence - 0003 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

After my older brother was born, reality set in. Dad reenlisted and never looked back. This picture was taken in front of our apartment building in Karlsruhe Germany, probably in 1955. (Camera: a German brand, an "Exakta", and probably a 35mm lens)
Box 4 - 10 1955 Our Family - 0019 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

1954. Every Army brat in Germany had one of these Bavarian suits; I was no exception. Note my brother on right attempting the first ever photo bomb. I put this picture in because the color and clarity are amazing. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 4 - 10 1955 Our Family - 0021 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

During our tour, we vacationed in the Bavarian ski town of Garmisch (1955 or 56). The mountains are stunning. That's my brother standing on the Army-owned mini golf course. As it turns out, this was not by any means the last time I'd see Garmisch in my lifetime. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 1 - 3 1950-55 Our Family - 0028 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Dad spent 1959-60 in Korea, attached to the 1st Cav. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 1 - 4 1956-62 Our Family - 0041 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

He took a couple of hundred slides there. But frankly, there wasn't much to photograph besides Buddha statues, peasants, and oxen. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 1 - 12 1959-60 Korea - 0029 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Box 1 - 12 1959-60 Korea - 0039 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

In 1966, while other Army dads were discovering Vietnam, my dad hit the jackpot, and was assigned to Garmisch, Germany as the senior NCO of the Armed Forces Recreation Center, the outfit that manages all the military-controlled hotels, discos, ski slopes, etc, across Bavaria. For the next three years, the dream assignment! (Camera: Exakta)
Box 2 - 6 1967-68 GRA 2 - 0023 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

This was the view from the bridge into and out of Breitenau, the small military housing area there. This is the Loisach River with a powder covering of snow. Late 1966. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 2 - 5 1966 GRA 1 - 0015 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Hitler's Eagle's Nest is a huge tourist attraction there. And we're worked up over a couple of statues? (Camera: Exakta)
Box 2 - 9 GRA - 0013 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

The family in 1969, at the top of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. My brother was in college in the States. I increased the mid-tones to bring our faces out more. (Camera: Exakta)
Box 4 - 10 1955 Our Family - 0020 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

One of my favorite pictures of my folks, now retired in 1975. Taken at Mission Espada in San Antonio. I was on leave, on my way to Germany. (Camera: Petri FTEE w/ 50mm lens)
1975 El Paso-Kerrville - 0007 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Me in 1976, a 24 y/o SP-5 in the Army. That Yamaha 360 was my first bike; I bought it to get around and it was a total blast on Germany's tiny backroads. This is taken near Fischbach. If you don't know where that is, don't worry - even the Germans didn't know it. (Camera: Petri)
1976 Fischbach - 0024 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Vacationing in my old high school stomping grounds. 1976. This is the Rathaus in Munich's Marienplatz. Note the glockenspiel in the tower. I thought I'd use this picture to demonstrate how good the digital resolution is. (Camera: Petri)
1976 Munich - 0031 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

Here's the close-up of the glockenspiel. You can see lens blur, but absolutely no tiling.
1976 Munich - 0031B by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

And once again, on vacation back in Garmisch (1976). That place just gets in your blood. Amazingly, from decade to decade, it doesn't change much. Instead of giving in to 10-story condos, they still have farmers fields on the outskirts of town. It remains the most beautiful place I have ever been. I took my wife Jan there in '02; hadn't changed much. And we want to go at least once more before we're too old to totter along the Bavarian trails. (Camera: Petri)
1976 Munich - 0012 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

One more of my dad's pictures, probably 1977, taken in northern California. (Camera: probably a Sears K1000)
Box 2 - 16 1977 Red Woods - 0028 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

1982, and my life has greatly changed. That's my wife Jan and my only child, Becky, who is two y/o there. Taken along the South Fork Trail north of Ruidoso. This remains one of my favorite family pictures. (Camera: Yashica FX3 w/ 50mm lens).
Unlabeled Box 1 - 1982 New Mexico (cont) - 0012 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

And finally, a view of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, from a 1985 vacation. Shortly after this, I converted to prints because it was just too much trouble to get out the slide projector.
Unlabeled Box 3 - 1985 Grand Canyon North Rim - 0002 by Tim Shelfer, on Flickr

And there you have it. As you can see, the quality of digitization is excellent. This really wasn't meant to be my mini-biography, but that's the nature of family slides. Anyway, I have absolutely no complaints about the service, or the price, of dps.Dave. I give them a double :thumb::thumb:!

Besides the nostalgia of the picture contents, there's also the nostalgia of celluloid. The progress made in digital photography is astonishing. But there's a warmth and reality to old slide film, particularly Ektachrome 64 (my opinion, anyway) that just can't be reproduced.
Very good to know! I have a suitcase of old slides from my family I would love to get digitized. Thanks for posting! :photo:
That one of you by the Yamaha is a classic. Boy I can really tell that is you,you have not changed much. Hummm I don't see a helmet or jacket in the picture?
That one of you by the Yamaha is a classic. Boy I can really tell that is you,you have not changed much. Hummm I don't see a helmet or jacket in the picture?

There's a cheapo 3/4 helmet lying around there somewhere. And note that my feet are protected by a very nice pair of German hiking boots. But in those days, we Americans rode in jeans & tshirts. Once at Ramstein AFB, I got jumped on by the German gate guard - back in the 70s, Germans were much more serious than us Amis about protective gear. He told me I should be wearing leathers. Well, in his German-English, it was more like "Vere's yoor lezzers?! You shoot be vearing lezzers!" And he vas richtig - I mean, right.

Man, I loved that bike!
I will, and it'll take a while. Scanned at that density, each picture takes 20 or so seconds to open on my laptop.
Great pictures! :thumb:

Got a lot of pictures of the glockenspiel and Garmisch. Brings back great memories. I was "over there" May '71 to Jan '74. :chug:
Thanks for sharing.
I actually saw that Glockenspiel for the first time in person this year.
Excellent German about the "lezzers".
And Germans might be confused about *which* Fischbach, as there are many "fish streams/creeks" naming little towns.
Even Nürnberg has a part of town called Fischbach that used to be its own municipality.

While there were a lot of interesting images, its the portraits of your family I find most striking, I like the look of wide aperture shots on film.
And they tell a great story in chronological order as they are.

Again, thanks for sharing.

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Good point. Whether it was just an Americanism or not, Fischbach was a general region between Pirmasens and Kaiserslautern. The town there is actually called Waldfischbach. There's a lot of logging in there and lots of tiny little roads; very heavily wooded. It also happens to be the general area where all the nukes were stored during the cold war. I was stationed in Pirmasens in 75-76. Interesting place, and interesting times. I'm glad the cold war is over.
Thanks for sharing.
I actually saw that Glockenspiel for the first time in person this year.
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PS - And I'm busted by a true German speaker. :doh: I forgot to capitalize Glockenspiel. Note to others reading this: in the German language, all nouns are capitalized.
PS - And I'm busted by a true German speaker. :doh: I forgot to capitalize Glockenspiel. Note to others reading this: in the German language, all nouns are capitalized.

And I noticed that! But when I got old and senile and lazy I use cut and paste way too much and I propagate things like that! :giveup:
Tim, thanks a million for sharing.

Quite a few places in Germany I'm familiar with. On our second 5 week RV trip this past May, in the span of 3 years, through Europe, we started in Munich. Have walked The Marienplatz many times. Have also been at Garmisch and in 1972 while I was stationed in Italy, my folks came to visit and we headed to Germany and Garmisch. My dad and I went to the top of the Zugspitz.

I'm in the process of pulling my large box of slides out to count how many I have.
I got a note from Dave at dpsDave yesterday. He asked me to inform the TWT community that if use his service and specify the discount code MEMORIES, you'll get 10% off list price.
tshelfer said:
PS - And I'm busted by a true German speaker. :doh: I forgot to capitalize Glockenspiel.

No busting intended, it just comes natural I guess :)

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No busting intended, it just comes natural I guess :)

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You didn't. You merely capitalized correctly, and that reminded me of basic German grammar & spelling rules.
Your images remind me of growing up, it was natural to see GIs everywhere up until the 90ies, when they pulled out of the SS Kaserne (ok, Merryl Barracks, but no local called them that, and I admit I was in my teens until it sunk in what we are actually calling it),it was weird driving by, no guards at post.

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That's in Nuernberg, right? Yeah, it's a different world today. I belong to an association known as Overseas Brats. Many of our members pretty much grew up in Germany, bouncing between the various Kasernes at Frankfurt, Kaiserslautern, Nuernberg, Augsburg, etc. Seeing pictures of the places where they grew up now sitting as ghost towns is kind of heartbreaking. Imagine going back to your own hometown, and everything is boarded up. I guess a lot of modern Germans are happier with fewer GIs, and I can't say I blame them.
I meant in Nürnberg, right.

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Tim, thanks for sharing the discount code. I pulled my big box of slides out yesterday and counted 2900 of them. I'll be contacting Dave soon.

When you sent yours in, did you box them up in a few different boxes? Thinking one would be too heavy?
I put the whole big mess in a single box. That was 7 of those Bell & Howell flat storage boxes, each containing 16 B&H slide cubes. The package weighed about 30 lbs - not a big deal to UPS. Shipping cost was $55. I figure sending more smaller boxes would have ended up costing more in the long run.
By the way, they group each box of slides (ie a B&H cube, or the contents of a Kodak cartridge that you transferred to a small box or baggie) into a file. As many individual containers of slides you send, you'll end up with that many files. If you have a label or some sort of notation on the container, they'll use that notation as the name of the file. That helps a little in figuring out what's where on the discs they send back.

My next project will be to relabel the various files, and get them into a solid chronological sequence.