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What To Do With Your Exosed Travel Films

[Adventures In Travel Photography]  [How To Save Your Money On Travel Pictures]  [Care Of Your Photo Equipment During Your Travel]  [Composition Of Travel Pictures]  [How To Photograph People During Your Travel]  [Travel Pictures In Bad Weather]  [Close-Up Pictures In Your Travels]  [What To Do With Your Exosed Travel Films]  [Sound Accompaniment In Travel Pictures] 

The primary concern for your film, both exposed and unexposed, is to protect it from heat, humidity, moisture, dust and x-ray equipment. X-ray flourescopic equipment is now used at many airports throughout the world to inspect carry-on luggage. Even though the equipment is advertised not to harm photographic film, it may. The effects of x-rays are additive. The film's emulsion will be fogged very slightly on the first exposure. The effect will probably be unnoticable. but repeated exposures to x-rays will increase the fogging. Five exposures may seriously damage the film emulsion by leaving a discolored, milky cast. If the x-ray equipment is out of calibration, your film may get a stronger dose than normal. But do not put any film in the check-on baggage may receive even stronger x-ray exposure. Your best advice is to hand carry all photographic equipment and film and have it hand inspected. You may be delayed at the inspection station for a few minutes, but the wait is justified by your ease of mind that your film is not being damaged. Another method to protect film from x-ray is to place it in lead foil lined plastic bags, such as those manufactured by "film-shield".

The film that you buy is probably Kodachrome or Ektachrome. Many photography stores in the large cities of Europe have Kodak developing, and so they will take your Kodak film. The same is true in Japan, in South Africa, and in some countries of the Far East. The problem is that you may have to wait a few days, or sometimes a week or two, for your film to be developed. This will probably be inconvenient or impossible to wait so long for processing, and your film may not be processed as exacting as it is in the U.S.A.

With Ektachrome you may have less problems. This type of film may be more easily developed by many photo finishers in different countries. But the developing in other countries may be poor and may give you less satisfaction. But you could take an Ektachrome developing kit with you and develop your Ektachrome in your hotel bath room. You can easily develop black and white film in your hotel, and if you have not taken any chemicals with you they can be purchased in almost every country.

The easiest method is to bring all your films back with you to the U.S.A. and give them to Kodak for developing. Another way is to buy the Kodak developing pre-paid envelopes and send your films to the Kodak plant in Rochester, New York. But first of all, sending a large film package by Air Mail or Registered Mail could be expensive, and also the way customs in some countries handles mail, you may have your film damaged or lost. There are often security checks of the mail with x-rays. You will notice mail bags waiting in the tropical sun to be loaded on the planes. This heat will damage the sensitive film emulsion and the pictures will be ruined or discolored. Or maybe in the winter these bags are put too closely towards heaters or registers. In mailing your film you take a chance of film damage. You will also find that there are still many countries in this world where the post offices will refuse to take your undeveloped exposed film.

Sending your exposed film may have one great advantage. In taking a long trip, when you go from one country to another, you would expose a lot of film. You do not always know, but would like to be sure that your photo equipment is working properly and that your pictures are perfect. The best way to do this would be to send the films in Kodak's pre-paid envelopes, from the larger foreign cities where the handling should be better, directly to Kodak in Rochester. As the return address you would give the address of your family or of a friend on the U.S.A., where Kodak would send your developed film. Next, your family or friend could see your films, write to you at your next trip destination, or telephone you, and give you advice on how you could improve your pictures, or reassure you that the quality of your photographs is good.

A question often asked is, "How long can I keep my exposed, undeveloped film before it will spoil?" Kodak would advise you to have the film developed as soon as possible, but in many cases this is not practical. Film will spoil with age, heat, and humidity.

Film's first enemy is humidity-your film can stand some dry heat, but not hot and humid. By using common sense, and by protecting your film from heat and humidity, you should have no problem keeping Kodak films for four to six weeks after exposure. And in dry, cool conditions, the films could last much longer, maybe a few months. You notice that even in your home after you have left partially exposed film in your camera for six months or longer, that when you finally finish your film the last pictures are still perfect. but on a trip to tropical countries, you had better watch your film.

Black and white film can be developed in every photo shop. But if you bought a foreign film, like Agfa whose price includes developing, you may have some problems. The film would be developed without charge in the country where you bought the film, but would you be willing to wait a week or two for your films? The processor will not send your films to the U.S.A. or to other countries. But if you have a friend in the foreign country you are visiting, he could take your film and later send them to you. Or you could take this film back with you and sometimes, like with Agfa, you can still send the film for free developing at Agfa processing plants in the U.S.A. But with other color films you may have serious problems finding a laboratory in the U.S.A. where you could send your film and pay for developing.

Bringing exposed film with you through customs in some countries may be a problem. (China, for example, or also Taiwan) Even if you had bought your film outside the U.S.A., your exposed film must be declared for customs tax payment. Bringing a lot of film with you from one country to another through customs may bring some problems. The countries are afraid that you are bringing in film for retail selling. It is better to mark your film with your name and address on tape and take the cannister from the original paper package. If this is not enough you could leave a part of your film load (all exposed film and unexposed you will not use) in a custom's office and retrieve them when you leave the country. Most countries have a limit on how much film you may bring with you. Because of this regulation it is sometimes difficult explaining why you are taking so many films with you.

Often you will like to see your movie films or slides while you are still on your trip. It would be best to use a polaroid camera. Sometimes it is possible to have your films developed especially if they are black and white Ektachrome. In this way the local photo shop could develop your pictures for you to admire or send to your friends. Also in this way you would be able to check your photo equipment for flaws and your technique for expertise.

In summary, the best method for handling exposed films is to carry your exposed film with you back to the U.S.A. But if your trip is long, or the weight of the exposed film is great. It is better to send your films to Kodak with pre-paid envelopes. And when you do not have these envelopes, then send the films to your family or a friend and ask them to send the films to Kodak. But whatever you do always try to protect your film, especially exposed film, from humidity, heat, and dust, and you will get many beautiful pictures.


The editing of your travel pictures can be partially completed during your travel. You should have some ideas in advance of what you would like to show with your slides and movies. Take pictures of what you need, and eliminate some shots or footage that will later be of little use. Editing with the camera saves film and later makes home editing easier. Label all rolls of film with a sequencial number. When you deliver your films to the processor, transpose the code number onto the label that will accompany each roll. Record on a small notebook, the code number, date, place, and brief facts concerning that roll of film. This will greatly simplify the editing and sorting at home.

But now you are in your home with hundreds of color slides or thousands of feet of movie film. What will be the next step? Call ALL of your family and show them ALL of your pictures, in sequencial order, the good, the bad, and even the very bad. This will probably be the last opportunity for your family to see these pictures because further editing will eliminate most of them.

The next step in editing will be to eliminate all poor pictures. Nothing better can improve your pictures than the waste basket. Sure, it is hard to discharge all the pictures that have cost you money, but there is no reason to keep them. If you insist on keeping them, make an extra collection for yourself from all the eliminated pictures or film footage. Discharge all unsharp pictures, all unsteady, and all under and overexposed. Next discharge all the pictures which "say nothing"; ones which nobody would like to see.

Looking at the "bad" pictures you may learn from your mistakes. There is always some reason why the picture did not come out like you had expected it to. Learn, and next time the picture will be better. Avoid the same mistakes.

How much should you eliminate? You often will read that the professional will use only 5%, and sometimes only 1%, of the total pictures that they had taken. They pick just one of hundreds, only the best. But your future audience may be less critical and will be happy with some non-perfect pictures.

But there are exception when a poor picture should be kept and shown to everybody. This is a case when you may accidently get a picture of a famous person. For example, in London if you get a close picture of the Queen of England. Even the poorest picture will be of interest to every body.

Next you sort the pictures into sub-groups, for example Paris, Normandy, farming in France, the vineyards. It matters little whether you took them the first or last day of your trip; they belong together. Next look for the pictures of all the same places or same monuments. For example, put all the pictures of the Colosseum together, all of the Forum together, etc. In Instanbul, first put all the mosques together, and then separate all the individual mosques by name, if you feel they should be refered to separately.

Anytime you look through the pictures you will always find some pictures which are bad and have to be eliminated. But by looking a few times through the pictures you will realize what you have. You will see what material you have and what can be done with it. Few people would be interested in seeing the 400 best Istanbul Mosques. If the idea of your show is not strictly religious, but of general interest, it would be better to pick a series of slides on the mosques that would show their inside, outside, some details of the architecture, and the people that worship in them.

Make a small sequence of pictures of all the famous places and all of the less known places that you have discovered. People will expect to see the famous landmarks, but you may surprise your audience with your own discoveries. In making the show, shorter is better than longer. It is better to leave your audience a little hungry longing to see more, than to show them too much. Avoid, especially, too many pictures of similar objects.

While collecting pictures or splicing your film watch for color and brightness continuity. The colors should ideally be complimentary, and the brightness should not change suddenly from one slide or movie scene to the next. If you have a few underexposed pictures you may show them together and the audience will object very little. But if you put one underexposed picture right next to an overexposed picture, everybody will notice that something is wrong. Avoid too many "dead" pictures of monuments and buildings. Instead insert pictures of people and their reactions.

Slowly build a story in any place you visit. In one place you may accent some object, like the market place. In another place you may show more of the churches, and in another you may show more churches, and in another you may shoe more of the children playing. Avoid showing the same type of scenery in several different places you visit, except if your idea is to compare or contrast.

Now you have your best slides, prints, or film. Only the good pictures are ready for a show. The next question is how long you intend to have the show? With movie film you can only cut and reduce the showing time.

But with color slides you have to calculate how long you would like to show each slide. Do not show every slide for the same amount of time. Do not always show every slide for five or seven seconds. This may put your audience to sleep. Use variety. Not every slide must be shown for long. Sometimes one second is enough, sometimes ten seconds is too short because the picture needs explanation and gives more pleasure to watch. Finally you must make a decision whether it should be a 20 minute or half hour show. Calculate how long you would like the slide show to run. (This will again involve more editing because of show time restriction.) But if you have many interesting separate stories to tell, you can make two or three shows. For example, one only from Italy, another only from France: each one for 20 or 30 minutes. Then ask the audience which one they would like to see.

Never show everything. It is better to always show a little less and ask the audience their particular interest. Maybe some of the people in your audience do not like a particular country or place. Maybe they have recently seen many photographs of that place.

Editing is the elimination, selection, and organization of your pictures. It is the most important step to get the best show, and the best audience interest. When editing, always remember that it is not only important that you visually present your travels, but that you also emotionally present your travel impressions and feelings. Make your audience truly experience your travel the way you did.

In addition to the photographs you took on the trip, you must also include some supplementary slides or movie film footage to divide the presentation and add information. Title slides are used to segragate a slide show into different sections. A slide show on France might be divided into sections on Paris, Normandy, farming, the French Alps, and the vineyares. Slides of maps are also needed to Orient the audience who is unfamiliar with the Geography.

When the slides are in their final sequence, number them. Stick-on pre-printed number labels are available through many mail order stores.


In your travels, the second most important equipment, after your camera, is a portable tape recorder. In the last few years, the cassette portable tape recorder has got to be the most popular. It usually weighs only two pounds and often less. Still, some travelers prefer heavier tape recorders like the Uher, reel to reel which weighs six and a half pounds and is expensive, but is one that is often used by professionals. But still, the cassette tape recorder is the most popular. They are cheap and have an amazingly good tone. These recorders have been improved with better tape emulsions for example, with the addition of use the Delby-System to eliminate the tape "Hiss". Some have a tone regulation, while others have built in microphones. Many have automatic gain control. You may choose what you would like.

Many of the different kinds of recorders operate on batteries which can be purchased in most countries of the world. But on longer travels in "less civilized" countries it would be advisable to have a second set of batteries.

You can use this kind of tape recording to record sound events, music, and many travel sound effects. Surely after returning home most people will forget many of their travel events and adventures. Begin recording during your trip preparations and continue to record every event of your trip. You can record your reactions and the reactions of your friends and family. Then continuing through your travels you would be able to record everything that happens to your everyday. This would include the people you meet, announcemants of your guides, and sounds you hear. Some of these recordings may be excellent to include in your future travelogue. You may include the sound of a local radio station and music from the theaters and nightclubs. You could walk behind your guide and record every word he or she says. You would be able to gather a lot of useful information to later use at home. This information will have been freshly recorded when it happened, often having a high emotional impact. Of course you could buy records woth the local or national music anyplace, but in tape recording you would have your own original recording and sound that nobody else will have.

The recording of travel sounds can be greatly improved with better or additional equipment. The microphone that you buy with a recorder could be replaced with a better one. The speaker on your recorder is usually very small and the sound is very poor, but when you return home the tape may be played on a different, better, or more expensive tape recorder with a substancial sound improvement.

Generally, we do not expect travel music to be perfect Hi-Fi. These sounds or music will only accompany your travel pictures. But the music could also be played before and after the show. Recording the music and events during your travel may be a lot of fun and will later give you a great amount of material for improving your editing and narration.