Vintage photo finds
November 5, 2014 12:52 AM   Subscribe

Vintage Photo Finds is a site with vintage photographs. According to creator Joel Snow:
The following pictures were found as negatives at the bottom of a cardboard box at a flea market. I shot them with my SLR on a lightbox and inverted them back to positives with Photshop. I'm not sure if it was a single photographer, or many, but many of the shots show an artistic and creative eye and share a similar style.

A thread in /r/history on Reddit has discussion on whether some of the photos are from the 1916 Punitive Expedition to Mexico. There is also an Imgur gallery. (Some photos are apparently only posted on Imgur as of this writing.)
posted by tykky (9 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Outstanding, what a find. How scary are those Mesa Verde steps!
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:12 AM on November 5, 2014

These are wonderful. The photographer(s) show a great eye and sense for drama, and the images capture the feeling of a lost world.

My mother's family drove from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles in a 7-passenger Studebaker in the summer of 1929. I grew up hearing stories about their adventures en route, but always followed by "your aunt kept a wonderful photo album of the trip, but nobody knows what became of it." I'd like to believe the pictures were very much like these.
posted by kinnakeet at 2:23 AM on November 5, 2014

This is very cool.

So here's my question: is the technique of re-photographing negatives in a lightbox any better than, say, using a scanner that can handle that format of negative? IS there a scanner that can handle that format?
posted by Namlit at 3:41 AM on November 5, 2014

Namlit - I don't know how the image quality would compare, but a scanner like an Epson Perfection V700 can handle negatives like those. Then again, a light-table/DSLR set-up would be cheaper, I imagine, if one already had the camera.
posted by misteraitch at 4:25 AM on November 5, 2014

I've been scanning a bunch of B&W negs on my old Nikon Coolscan V and can say it gets better resolution than this, unless these have been dumbed way down for the web. At 4000 dpi the pixels are usually smaller than the film grain. Nikon has gotten out of the film scanner business (I have to run the software on an old PPC Mac) but there are new comparable devices out there. They start at about 600-800 bucks though, for a good one that can get every last bit of detail.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:34 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Now that I look again, these appear to be larger than 35 mm - medium format scanners can be had, but they're even more.

I wonder if he's using a good 1:1 macro lens?
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:38 AM on November 5, 2014

Yeah, these are fabulous.
posted by OmieWise at 6:02 AM on November 5, 2014

These are great - nice find. I have a picture of my wife taken a few years ago at the Como Conservatory Palm Dome in St. Paul that looks eerily similar to the "Woman Sitting in an Atrium." It could actually be taken there because the architecture is very close, but really how many ways are there to make a glass dome atrium?

I also really like anything that shows great transitions as they happened - as in the horse at the gas pump and the 'new' machinery seen in these.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:35 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of my occasionally-recurring anxiety dreams involves trying to walk up a cliff on stairs like those Mesa Verde steps. Gah. Sometimes without the handholds if I'm particularly stressed.

And I'm sure modern technical clothing is more practical but, boy, those are some stylish adventurers!
posted by Beti at 1:37 PM on November 5, 2014

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