Do you throw out slides?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by chris_ciotti, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. Hi -
    I was getting ready to archive my slides and I wanted to know what people do with slides that not keepers. Do you toss them?
  2. I only discard the really bad ones. Sometimes slides that were of no apparent interest have a use many years later.
  3. SCL


    Same as Jim.
  4. I have a friend who wants to scan all his slides and then throw them away.
  5. I tossed half of mine. Fifteen percent of the remaining half was sleeved by category. The rest are in storage cases by category. A huge chunk are people pictures as most were kept for archival/historical/sentimental reasons.
    Overall, thinning out felt good and still does.
  6. My experience is like jim's - when I was scanning in my 'firsts' I discovered more shadow detail etc. was available once they were in digital. After I scanned my 'seconds', I was really glad I had saved them.
    I tended also to find totally underexposed slides to be handy as 'dark slides" to put in the slide holder at a spot where I wanted to pause, or to mark the end or start of a series. Totally overexposed were less useful, but I would put a x mark on them for pre-focusing on occasion.
    Here are a couple of discards that survived because I used them in making fun of my colleagues' slide shows.
    The one on the left is a little overexposed, but you can see.....
    The one on the right is a bit dark, but we were ....​
  7. they've got to be pretty botched for me to throw it out. End of roll frame cut in half, completely off exposure/OOF, etc. Otherwise everything is sleeved per roll. At some point i need to either rearrange everything by category or build up a database so i can find individual images etc.
  8. Not usually but sometimes if the slide is poor enough.
  9. I haven't thrown more than one or two a roll out yet...I figure I gotta have something to do once I retire!
  10. Only dead black, or clear exposure mistakes.
    In time, even the most mundane of photos become "time capsules" of sorts.
  11. Very often. In the past, I almost never threw them and now I have binders full of mistakes. Space is kinda limited, so now I throw out the slides I don't like or don't consider worth scanning or projecting (composition or exposure problems). I just hope I'm not doing something really mean to the environment...
  12. Not as many as I should. I hope to start a cleanup this winter as part of a search for some I really want.
  13. Yes. Bad ones need to go as you stated: "Not Keepers."
  14. david_henderson


    "Keeper" seems pretty specific to me, and so does "not keeper"
    I reckon that in the 10 years to 2008 I shot well over 50 000 medium format slides. About half of those survived a maximum of two weeks after I took them and indeed I found getting rid of the mistakes, the near dupes, the not very interesting a cathartic process which improved my perceptions of what I had left.
    About 70/80% of whats left stayed in strips or part strips, still in sleeves and are filed by trip in ring binders. The other 10/20% got mounted, potentially used, and probably shown to other photographers, stock agencies and so on.
    I can't remember ever feeling any regret over what I threw away- indeed the "post " significance of those decisions was infintesmal by comparison to the agonies of making them. I have rarely found any use for or interest in the majority of so called "keepers" that never got mounted.
  15. Of interest to those who have responded: A friend, and fellow contributor is in the business of long term archival of, documents, pictures etc.
    Would it shock anyone to know that the Smithsonian and many other organisations charged with the long term preservation of imagery, use his services to transfer digital images from disk,CD,DVD, back to colour slide transparencies for their permanent preservation.
    The reason?...the Smithsonian et al, do not have absolute confidence that the current image file formats and media used today will be around in 20 years time, let alone 200.
    So the answer Chris, is...don't throw out your slides.
  16. The solution was the comment from Shadforth. The slides ARE are in an archival state.
    In this headlong dash to "convert" ourselves to digital imagery
    the question of permanence returns to mind frequently.
    And as an old (over 60 years of age) person the idea of permanence tends to be more nf topic than ever before.
    If somebody is interested in a slide , I duplicate same as an archival digital file, if only because the file can in current circumstances be used in so many different ways. The slides (some 25,000) of mostly railways and transportation devices in the world, live in metal slide boxes, with dessicant packets which are removed and heated to remove moisuture on a regular basis.
    Duds, are often discovered upon delivery of the processed slides first time round.
    Duds not discarded then are reviewedand then kept or place in a file for friends to scour through and then if they don't want them, they are the dropped through a large shredding machine to be reduced to minute nothings.
    And I still use my Nikon F100 to photograph using E-6 slide film.
    Processing varies by supplier, may revert to sending E-6 stateside for processing at Dwayne's.
    More costly however can assured the slides will be processed properly. Currently sing a roll of 36 every two weeks, give or take.
  17. I store my 35mm slides in binders, in the order in which the images where made. So, I keep each roll together as a roll rather than resorting the images based on some other categorization. I tend to look for slides based on when and where I made the original image so this sorting makes sense for me.
    If I take slides out of a binder for, say, a slide show, then when it came time to return the slides to the binder I would find it quite hard to figure out where a given slide belongs if I did not keep every slide in each roll (except for half-frames and the like at the start and end of a roll).
    For medium format slides I much prefer handling the slides as strips of three. This means that it would almost never make sense to discard since I would be discarding three images rather than just one. Plus, since the medium format slides are not mounted they take up very little space.
    So, I keep pretty much every slide. Yes, I have quite a few binders!
  18. david_henderson


    I'm amused by the idea that the archival quality of slides should mean that they should be kept irrespective of their visual qualities. Sure, the fact that they'll last a long time is important for those you want to keep, but keeping poor or meaningless images just because they're archival strikes me as being a bit like keeping your food packaging because it won't decompose! There's lots of things that we can do- I guess I'd just imagined that people would let what they wanted to do drive their actions, not what they can do.
    Equally I'm puzzled by keeping all of one slides in strips- because it means that you never get the pleasure of seeing your work projected and thats unfortunate.
    But the man who keeps them all because they might, just might, turn out to be of real interest or value later, now there's a true artistic spirit, confident and optimistic! Every photographer should have a statistician for a friend. I'll start keeping mine when Flickr goes offline and the stock agency's databases close :)
  19. Thanks for all the input! I'll toss some I imagine but not as many as I should.
  20. I throw away most slides if they are not good enough. I only very rarely keep a second: if i keep one it is usually of a person. My feeling is that if I have to wonder whether the shot is any good then it's probably not and out it goes. I am a little easier on myself now I am largely digital. If two pictures are equally good but different - I still usually only keep one - I have to make a choice like any other picture editor.
  21. Wow, after all these responses, I'm feeling careless. I throw away about 80% (maybe more) of my 35mm slides soon after receiving them. I don't think I'm overly picky, but I really don't want to save a slide that doesn't immediately stike me as being good. I do a lot less MF and since they come in strips, I save them unless I cut them up for mounting and don't want what's left.
  22. "I have a friend who wants to scan all his slides and then throw them away." Not a very good idea, as alluded to in the comments by Shadforth and Bryce. Today, everybody can read a jpg on a CD or DVD. But in 20 years? Certaintly by our grandchildren's time they will have no idea what those shiny plastic discs are, let alone that they contain photos or have the equipment and software to view them. Only a fraction will ultimately be transferred from today's media to tomorrow's any more than our 5.25 floppy discs from the 1980s got transferred. But a color slide can be held up to the light and it's immediately apparent what it is, the same as Matthew Brady's glass plates. And if you still have the original color slide, you can always copy it to whatever the latest technical format of the year 2100 that no one has yet envisioned. Throw it away, and you're stuck with 2010 technology forever.
  23. Save them up and make a slide curtain.
  24. Depends. If I'm shooting a specific subject, I will toss the obvious clunkers. Family snaps and the like are a different story. Those you want to keep no matter how bad they might be. They will in time become a link to the past that someone, perhaps not you, may one day find valuable.
  25. "Eddy d , Nov 13, 2010; 06:47 p.m.
    I have a friend who wants to scan all his slides and then throw them away."

    That seems like a rather foolish move to me. What happens if he loses those scanned images? He's SOL.
    I have scanned a lot of mine, but will never get rid of the originals. Most of mine are unmounted anyway, as I used transparency film as most would use negative film. Prints were made of the transparencies.
  26. As I reread the responses, it seems to me that people are answering this question from two different perspectives. In that light I'd like to clarify my earlier response. I toss a lot of my slides because they basically don't make my cut for being high enough quality to keep. I don't want to have to sort through mediocre quality slides a second time, nor do I want to have to catalog or store them. But I would NOT destroy a slide that was a keeper just because I had scanned it and stored it digitally. My keepers get kept forever. My losers go in the trash early.
  27. Somewhere I have a slide of a trash can overflowing with slides that I finally culled. (I hope THAT slide made the cut because I can't find the scanned image).
  28. I only throw out low quality ones i.e. out of focus, extreme over exposure etc. I still have several hundred to sort and archive, even quite a few to process. Maybe this winter ---
    What pains me most though, is not the ones I have to sort out, but the photos I NEVER TOOK ! Looking back over the years there are countless numbers of places I visited , vehicles I owned, and most importantly people, who I don't have photos of.
    Anyone can discard old slides, one can never go back to recapture the past.
  29. Hi Chris, dont throw anything out yet. You have the benefit of all the digital convenience whereas I went through my slides about ten years ago and discarded a lot of them only to realise years later that scanners were much cheaper, software a lot smarter and therefore some slides could be turned into winners and those slides that didnt quite make it at the time could now be recropped, cloned etc and become very useful images. Even parts of images can be used. So be hesitant.
  30. Thunk!! (That was the sound of my jaw hitting the ground). I doubt that I'll live long enough to see the day that I throw out my slides. I scan ALL of them, good and bad (well, okay, not the back of the lens cap shots). I just read that Steve McCurry has some 800,000 Kodachrome (alone) slides in his personal archive; although I suspect his keeper rate is somewhat higher than mine. In case anybody cares, that like 555 rolls a year for 40 years--or, one roll a day for 60.88 years.
  31. Sorry to tell you guys, but 99.9% of your pictures just aren't that important. If you don't throw them out before you die, you wife's next husband will. Including the so-called keepers.
  32. Sorry to tell you guys, but 99.9% of your pictures just aren't that important.​
    An extra 0.1% on that figure is how many of mine are not important. They may be of some interest to others but definitely of no real importance.
  33. I agree with Alan and Steve: our slides are not important to anyone really other than to ourselves and I think it is a fantasy to assume they need to be treasured like works of art.
    Steve McCurry's collection is the result of 40 years of professional assignments so they represent his livelihood and his source of income - he has more of a reason to keep his than most of us. Even if he does have 800,000 Kodachromes I still cannot imagine that more than 10% ever see the light of day or are sold as stock images.
  34. I throw them out, otherwise after shooting them for more than fifty years I wouldn't be able to get in my house for them.
  35. I find that what works for me is to already do a quality control step when I decide what to mount. Anything that I find interesting or potentially useful down the road gets mounted. I have a slight catalogue on a spreadsheet (that is currently not up to date) where I categorise the slides acording to general and specific categories and I also have some quality codes for images that I may want to use for specific purposes. Of the slides that I have mounted - about 18 500 - I don't plan on throwing any out.
  36. Hi, I am student from Kingston University, London and I am doing a project on the photos that people discard. If by any chance you still have the slides you wanted to discard would it be possible for me to have them, the project is solely for the university and will not be seen outside the facilities. My email is
    I hope to hear from you.
    Thanks Debs

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