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Film Negatives to Digital

By Dillon Wallace

Let’s start with the basics – a normal picture is what we call a positive image. A negative image is the inversion of a picture, where the light areas appear dark and the dark, light. Most people recognize negative images by their x-ray-like appearance and they typically have less contrast but a wider dynamic range than their positive image counterparts.

But what’s the point of a negative image? Who invented it and what makes the format so special?  


The Invention of the Negative

In 1839, what most film enthusiasts consider the birth year of practical photography, Henry William Fox Talbot discovered how to make photographs on light-sensitive paper coated with sliver-based chemicals. Before Talbot’s breakthrough of a paper-based development process involving calotype negative and salt print, earlier photography had used a metal-based daguerreotype process that just wasn’t practical in the long run – or affordable.


Negative Film’s Positive Impact

In fact, Talbot’s negative-process made it possible to make multiple prints from a single negative. Talbot’s negative breakthrough process paved the way for a string of positive innovations that would soon roll out in the film industry, including a reduced camera exposure time from minutes to seconds, and eventually, a fraction of a second exposure – not to mention ease of use, versatility and affordability and accessibility for amateur photographers.

As the film industry continued to grow over the centuries, negatives continued to serve a unique purpose in photography. The process started out on Talbot’s paper invention, and later leveraged thing sheets of glass and finally plastic.

Negative Film Today

With the introduction of digital photography in the late 90s/early 2000s, most film cameras and film development processes slowly became obsolete. But despite the evolution of film, there has been a recent resurgence, including the desire and market for old film techniques and negative production. In fact, fine art enthusiasts are using negatives from digital images for use in alternative film processes, including cyan-topes, platinum prints and gum bichromate, among others.

What to Do With Your Negatives

Do you have a bunch of film negatives stocked up in your storage closet? Tucked underneath your bed in a shoebox? Covered in dust in the attic? Let Legacybox help! Our dedicated team of professionals can take those negative analog images and turn them into positive digital pictures that you can enjoy and share with friends and family for generations to come.

Don’t miss out on your family’s history by letting your negatives wither and fade from time and neglect. After all, those aren’t just pictures, those are your memories wasting away in storage. So get them digitized today before it’s too late!

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