The “Bonus Roll” From Lee Pratt
So last week Lee Pratt dropped by The Jalopy Journal world headquarters with his arms full of gifts. Part of that delivery was two rolls of color slide film that hadn’t seen the light of day in damned near forty years.
“Most of these shots are of my old ’41 Buick and I thought you might be interested in checking them out. There’s another roll in there too, but I don’t recall where it came from. I think they were both taken in Iowa in around 1980.”
After an hour or so of shooting the shit, Lee took off for his next house call and I quickly got to work figuring out the best way to get the rolls scanned. My initial thought was to scan the most interesting first – the roll of Lee’s notorious old Buick. But, just as soon as I took the transparencies out of their holder, I knew I had a problem.
My best guess is that this slide film was exposed to some serious amounts of humidity at some point in its life. Rather than feeling like thin plastic, it feels like incredibly delicate rubber… or more accurately, a Fruit Roll-Up that your kid left in the car a few weeks back. It’s stretchy, but more than that it’s STICKY.
So I began to think about how I could lay this sticky mess out on the scanner without ruining the device or the images. I came up blank and on a whim called my contact that runs the Life Magazine image archive.
Apparently, vintage slide film in the form of Fruit Roll-Ups isn’t all that uncommon. And while it’s damn near impossible to remove the dust from them, you can get them stable enough to scan if you’re patient and don’t mind working with chemicals that cut your life short by a few years.
This is important shit… so I skipped the legalese and got straight to work.
I started with the “bonus roll” and left the shots of Lee’s Buick for when I had more experience with the process. As warned, it took forever to get done and the shots aren’t as clean as I’d like straight from the scanner, but… I haven’t ruined a single shot yet.
I’d guess I have about 6 hours in the process as it stands and I haven’t touched the Buick roll yet. That being said, the “bonus roll” turned out to be pretty special as well. Most of the roll was dedicated to a sweet little Merc that the owner had named “Low-n-Lovely,” but the back quarter was reserved for a group shot that featured not only Lee’s Buick, but a few choice early styled customs as well.
Rather than edit this roll down to the essentials, I figured I’d post the whole thing. I have so much time in it that I just can’t bare to leave anything out – even if there are duplicates. So, enjoy and stay tuned – there is much to come if I don’t screw it up!