Above: BILL AT THE SPRAGUE STERNWHEELER TOWBOAT, “BIG MAMA OF THE MISSISSIPPI”, VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI, 1960’S
I love the effect of aging on the fifty-year-old Ektachrome slides in the collection–the colors seem to have softened at the same rate as my memories of childhood. In fact, though, Bill’s original slides have defied expectations–Ektachrome is not know for its color stability over time. But an unexpected outcome of the scanning process has become my favorite feature of these digital files.
I had the Ektachrome slides and the early Kodachrome slides (through about 1970) scanned at a local lab long before I conceived of an online gallery of archival quality. I have since learned that the lab may have made some color adjustments that led to the banding, or posterization, that I have come to love about these files. Some of these pictures have been elevated from artifact to art by the happy accident.
What may have gotten lost in the process, however, is the documentary value of the images. The picture of the Sprague is a good example. The towboat was destroyed in a fire in 1974, so all images of it are essentially vintage. A clear picture of it serves history much better than the impressionistic variation in the scan. On the other end of the scale, though, the painterly quality of the family scenes below is lovely and endearing.