By: Angela Vanderbilt
Digitization of the Cincinnati subway and street improvement project prints and negatives began this week with three boxes containing 681 silver nitrate-based negatives delivered to Robin Imaging Services for scanning. Each negative will be carefully scanned by a photo technician experienced in handling silver nitrate negatives, using scanners that operate at low temperature levels to ensure the sensitive nitrate is not exposed to heat. Each negative will be analyzed during scanning to ensure the proper exposure settings are applied to capture the best detail possible when it is saved as a positive image.
The majority of negatives are an 8 x 10 format, with a few 4 x 6 negatives included. Information that was handwritten on the negatives, such as street names, dates, and directional indicators, will be transcribed to spreadsheets and used as metadata to build highly descriptive online collections. Once the negative scanning is completed, all prints will be scanned with any handwritten text on the front and back of the prints transcribed to a spreadsheet.
As the negatives and prints are scanned, we will have the opportunity to review the electronic images for quality assurance, and with any luck catch another glimpse of the photographer’s reflection in a mirror, or perhaps posing with subway construction crews or employees. Identifying our elusive photographer is proving to be no easy task.