Old Tech…

… or so it may seem. No longer supported, is probably a better description. There are, no doubt, long time individual niche workers all over the world, in any field, limping older technology tools along in some shop. But there are also more advanced leading edge efforts in a variety of fields keeping old systems alive for particular processes no longer supported by new technology concerns. For example, in the leading innovative fine art printing shop in the country, they keep older versions of Adobe software, and operating systems, etc. active and never updated in various parts of the signal flow, because as these companies evolved their products, issues like color management, print engines and other things became less dependable. Because most manufacturers that offered high end scanners are gone, primarily because the world of prepress that needed them in the long era of film rapidly evolved or died during the worldwide transition to digital.

My Howtek drum scanner produced thousands of scans for myself and others for years, for a wide variety of purposes. As I slowly transitioned away from providing this service, and my own body of work mostly scanned, it was used less frequently. Therefore as it developed some problems, and service is hard to find and expensive, I let it sit for a few years.

The software I use for it is no longer available and hasn’t been updated in a long time, and only runs on an older OS, which, of course, only runs on an older Mac. So old scanner, no update or reasonable alternative available, requires old software, no options there, which requires an old OS therefore an old computer. All interdependent, none of it supported. I should add, this setup has been remarkably dependent for years and years, far more so than the newer hardware and software I have that necessitates constant updates and reinvestment and support.

My attention returned to making more photographs so I finally shipped off the scanner for repair. In the meantime I tried to start and doublecheck the old G4, nothing, not even a power light. After some googling I ventured into finding and replacing the power supply, fingers crossed, it started up and works fine.

Not my desired vocation. When the scanner was shipped back with some repairs and a good bill of health, it had to sit a while as my basement, where I work, was having some construction work done. I finally set it up and hit the power switch… smoke! Somehow damaged in shipping.
So now, weeks of back and forth email consultations, and disassembly, another power supply replacement.. My work space is cluttered with tools, scanner parts, electronics, etc etc.. No room to print. Hopefully this will get resolved this week and I can get to the real work, instead of electronics repair man. What was the real work again?

I’ve been chided to move into this century several times, and leave my view camera and drum scanner behind. There is some merit to this, I keep up with things and use some newer photo tech, but often this push comes from people not very informed about the state of the art. Film, view cameras, therefore the required scanning (if digital printing is needed), are all manufactured and in use by major artists and others. There are archives and collections of our photographic history on film or prints requiring high end scans, usually in house. Also, very few have seen a masterful print made by a leading edge system, from a drum scan of a large piece of B&W film. I’m lucky, I have the equipment, I can get film, why would I want to back away from that level of quality when all the tools are at my fingertips? There may be some capture systems that can compete with this quality and be much more convenient, but at the cost of a new car.

So, this has been my adventure of the last several months, 2022. I admit it is frustrating, seriously. I have some printing to do, and an updated B&W process to finish perfecting, which I am excited about. But I have to see this through. Still, when smoke and burning smell came from the scanner on startup after all the time and resource investment… I admit I nearly walked away. So that’s my year so far, hopefully resolved this week.

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