A Very Special Gift for My Grandmother

I know that is way too early to start talking about Christmas. After all we just passed the mid-point of October and we still have over a week to go before Halloween’s arrival. Yet, every store is decorated with red and green and a few of my monthly magazines have dedicated articles to Christmas budgeting. Although it’s only October I’m in a strange Christmas mood.

When my grandfather was alive he shot thousands and thousands of photographs on 35mm slides. A few years ago I scanned well over two thousand images and presented them in a digital picture frame to my grandmother. Every time I see her she tells me that the picture frame is the best gift she’s ever received. In fact that frame has run continuously since the first night my husband and I presented it to her.

Scanning my grandfather’s slides seems like the task that will never end. Although I have thousands of slides in my possession I know for a fact that my grandmother still has twice any many still boxed up in storage. The last time around I sat in front of the scanner every morning and evening for weeks on end.

During the initial days of scanning I cried quite a bit. There is a deep sense of pride in bringing my grandfather’s photographs back to life. His images capture the moments that we so often forget. Of course there are those big moments like baby showers and first birthdays but also simple moments in time that capture my brother and I playing with toys, building sand castles at the beach and sledding down the big hill in our backyard. My grandfather would be absolutely elated to see his legacy being pulled out of boxes in storage.

Before I took on this task my grandfather’s slides hadn’t seen the light of day since long before he passed away, but as soon as I saw the first image on screen I remembered sitting in my grandparent’s dining room, watching the images light up from my grandfather’s old slide projector. As a young child I remember feeling bored and agitated as my grandfather showed us image after image. Of course, now I wish my grandfather was alive to explain how he captured the light and to see his excitement grow with each click of the projector.

It will take months for me to digitize each slide, but my grandmother turned 87 this month and if I don’t scan the images now she may never get to see them. I have a lot of work to do between now and Christmas, but the work is well worth the reward. By bringing these photos back to life my grandmother gets to relive some of the happiest moments of her life and more importantly to feel close to her husband, my grandfather, the man behind the camera.

11 thoughts on “A Very Special Gift for My Grandmother”

  1. That is so sweet and thoughtful. We have boxes of old slides in my parents basement that we never got around to doing that with before my grandpa died. I really regret that.

  2. That is such a meaningful gift! You are a very thoughtful person. šŸ™‚

    my grandma and grandpa also used to show us slides–of my mom and her brothers and sister when they were young! They have since died and I have no idea what happened to those slides. I'd love to get my hands on them and digitize them like you are. How do you digitize projector slides, though??

  3. Thank you for all of the kind comments. You can't imagine how much this gift meant to my grandmother and I am absolutely elated to provide her with a new set of photographs this year.

    @sense – I'm actually using a flatbed scanner to convert the photographs. The problem with this approach is that I can only convert 4 slides at a time and each slide takes at least 8 minutes to convert, which means I'm pretty much living in the home office for hours and days on end. I'm considering buying a scanner that could convert more slides at once, but so far I'm not finding much luck finding one within a reasonable price range.

  4. Wow. And here I sit with a gallon ziploc bag with maybe fifty photos that belonged to my Grandma, that my mom keeps asking for me to give back to her. I want to scan them first! I should be ashamed of myself, since it won't take me near as long as it takes for the slides. This is such a wonderful gift for your grandma and an amazing legacy for the rest of the family!! And I don't think it's too soon to start thinking about Christmas gifts when they are handmade or scanning photos!! Would you consider creating a post on how you scan the slides (and photos)? That is one thing that has held me back because I wasn't too excited about the quality of the photos I scanned. I set my program to color and 600dpi, do you think that's as good as I can get? 600dpi is the highest my scanner will get. Thanks.

  5. I'll blog about this tomorrow. I'm not in front of my scanner right now, but I'll see if I can document the steps myself or find a PDF that includes the necessary details. My scanning process is unbelievably painful and slow with my scanner but I'd be happy to share the info.

  6. So I finally found the link to the PDF I used to setup my scanner.
    I scan at a minimum of 600dpi. I use the Epson Perfection 4180 Photo scanner. These instructions are specific to the scanner I use, but I bet they are similar to any of the flatbeds.


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