Working in a blackout

This blog is primarily about my film and emulsion-based expoits. In order to show the results of those exploits I have to scan the images and upload the resulting processed digital files to WordPress either directly or via Google Photos.

A few months ago I noticed that when viewing my blog on my laptop (a 2011 MacBook Air) some of my uploaded images appeared as totally black rectangles. Not just newly uploaded images but when I looked back through my blog, images which previously rendered as expected were displayed blacked out too.

I checked my blog on other devices: iMac, Windows PCs, iPhone and Android devices. All the images appeared correctly. I then checked how the same image files appeared on different online sites: Flickr, Facebook, Google Photos and Dropbox. When viewed on my MacBook Air, on all but Flickr the images appeared as expected but on Flickr the same files were blacked out. When viewed on other devices all the images appeared correctly.

The common factors among the failing files appears to be that they are scanned images, my MacBook Air, WordPress, Flickr and that the problem only began a few months ago. I’ve painstakingly reviewed my scanning and editing workflow to almost no avail.

I thought I’d cracked it when I scanned a set of black & white 35mm negatives last week:

  • Turn off all editing functions on my Epson Perfection 4990 Photo scanner.
  • Scan as 24-bit colour at 2400 dpi. Save images as .tif files on my 2009 iMac. (Iwould normally scan 16-bit grayscale to either 1200 or 2400 dpi .jpg files).
  • Open files in Affinity Photo, process as RAW files in Develop Persona, converting to black & white. Save as native .afphoto file.
  • Edit .afphoto file to spot, crop and straighten as necessary. Adjust black and white points in levels.
  • Export to .jpg files, resized to suit intended use. (For online, 1000 or 1200 pixels on longest side at 72 dpi).

Here are some of the resulting files that I uploaded both to Flickr and to WordPress:

I went to Flickr first and when viewed on my MacBook Air these images appear correctly. They were previously blacked out. The only change I had made was to scan as 24-bit colour files rather than 16-bit greyscale (which was previously my standard method). I was hopeful for my blog …

But here on my WordPress blog they remain blacked out. They appear correctly on other devices (iMac, Windows PC). I’m stumped. Did something change on my MacBook Air towards the end of last year? If so why does it only affect WordPress? Why only scanned images? There’s another thing too: it’s not just my images on my blog or on my Flickr account – I’m seeing the same thing on other blogs and other Flickr accounts. As far as I can tell it’s happening to scanned images and is only apparent on my MacBook Air.

Unfortunately my most used means of reading blog posts and updating Light Moments is via my MacBook Air. Until I can identify the problem and find a solution, my enjoyment of WordPress is being severely frustrated to the point of not maintaining my blog … at least for now.