Digitizing my photo albums. Advice?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Akilah727, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. Akilah727 macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2008
    The time has come to archive several decades of my family snapshots. I've got the option to use either a Lexmark P4350 scanner or an HP Scanjet G4050 (If this matters much). I'm looking for general advice and insight regarding procedure, technique, and software. If any of you have done, attempted this, please share your experience(s), links, tutorials, anything.

    Keep in mind:

    * I am doing this myself. It's cost efficient and much more rewarding than shipping my family albums off to some company. Please do not just say pay for it. I only add this because I've noticed similar useless comments on countless forums with people asking for similar advice.

    * I'm using a Windows machine for this particular project. It is what I have at my disposal.

    * The Lexmark scanner is the most accessible. Any benefits to using the HP scanner? What should I be thinking about, if at all, regarding scanner choice?

    * I will most likely try to scan 4 or more images at once. Any software suggestions for separating/isolating photos?

    * Is there more than one program I should use to do this? I'm not well versed with Photoshop yet, but I've got it. The same goes for GIMP. I'm open to experimenting with them if the easiest route through this project goes through either program.

    * If it's easier/beneficial to use anything other than the preview/scanner utility, I'm open to suggestions! Freeware is best, but I'll torrent something if it'll be worth my while.

    * Is there a better approach to archiving other than scanning my photos as Jpeg's, titling them in a series resembling scan0001, and dumping them on my hard drive? I don't use anything to sort/organize/anything my photos, but I'd like to. My own pictures are unceremoniously dumped in folders labeled with vague descriptions sorted by year. I'd like to grow out of this habit, avoiding it entirely for this project.

    * I'd prefer not to take pictures of pictures. But I have a Canon G10. Its not a DSLR, so the sensor size is probably not big enough to make this option feasible, but I feel safer asking than assuming. Considering ease and quality, should I be Googling megapixels vs DPI nonsense? If you can't already tell, I've combed my my favorite sources of knowledge (macrumors, lifehacker, dpreview, even digg), come up with very little, and now I'm asking for help.

    *A post I found in another forum listed installing Linux on a spare machine among his steps for completing this task. I'm a Linux virgin, but I've always wanted to experiment. Should I bother with this now? If so.... where do I start? Should I use a specific distribution? I know there are a handful of versions.

    *My family albums are not necessarily chronologically accurate. I suspect photos were collected in a shoebox and every few years, someone would grab a bunch and stick them in an album. Any organizational/indexing tips? Other than my mother standing over my shoulder the whole time trying to remember who was at specific party in 1972, I mean.

    Any advice is good advice! My Great Grandmother is not long for this world and I'd love to get this project done before she goes. Once everything is done, I'd like get a few books bound for the family.
    Thanks in advance! :)
  2. skybolt macrumors 6502a

    Feb 20, 2005
    Nashville, TN, USA
    Well, I did this same project recently and here are some things I learned/did.

    I used a Canon LiDE flatbed scanner that has a "multi-scan" function included with its CanoScan software. I oculd lay multiple photos on the platen and it would create separate files for each folder. I scanned some on a scanner at work, and they turned up as maybe 4 photos on a page. PhotoShop Elements has a utility to break them out into separate files. Works great!

    I took the time to organize the photos before I scanned them. I like mine by date, so that is how I organized them. Where I did not know the date, I estimated. Or, in the case of my own childhood pics, I organized by where we lived at the time. I then scanned in batches, and worked with each batch individually. Made life so much simpler. When using the Elements method, if you have them organized in some manner, don't name them in Elements as to what the pic really is (e.g., Uncle Bob), give them a consecutive number so they will remain in the order you want them.

    Once I had the photos on my computer, I just imported into iPhoto, dated them (this is where the consecutive numbering comes in handy -- they will be in the correct order and you can batch re-date them) labeled them and put keywords on them. Much easier in smaller batches.

    I have read where folks that have scanned B&W pics have had mixed results. I scanned every one of my photos as color, and had no B&W problems.

    After I did this, I used iDVD to create DVD's of my photos to give to family members. There is an option in iDVD to include the actual files along with the slideshow so that the recipients can download the photos to their own computer or maybe print them if they want. Even the oldest of my relatives LOVED seeing their old memories played out on their TV's!

    This project was somewhat tedious, but the results are well worth it. The batches really saved my sanity. I felt like I was accomplishing something every time I finished a batch. Sure helped keep me upbeat!

    Good luck!
  3. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008
    Which vversion of Photoshop Elements are you using? Where do you find this option?

    I want to scan in all of my old photo's and this may speed things up for me.
  4. RHVC59 macrumors 6502


    May 10, 2008
    Eugene, Oregon
    I have been digitizing my family photos over time as a looong term project. I have worked in both a PC and Mac environments an have found that a consecutive numbering scheme works for me.

    I have folders by My Photos/year/major event/...
    One of the most useful things you can do is to tag your images using Photoshop, (what ever version) and embed these tags inside the image's metadata. This will allow you to search for "Aunt June, Christmas, 1970's" or what ever.

    I would also save your images as TIF's as that is a lossless file format, where as Jpg's files are seved using a a Lossey file format... each time you open and edit the photo it re-compresses the image and you loose a little bit of image info. Over time this is not a desirable outcome. Tif's do not toss out info each time you open and re-save the file.
  5. skybolt macrumors 6502a

    Feb 20, 2005
    Nashville, TN, USA
    I used Elements 4.0 (I know, old and outdated, but it did the trick
    !). Click on Image (in the menubar), then Divide Scanned Photos. You can see the progress and it will divide them out for you. You will then need to name them and import them into iPhoto. It does not work perfectly every time, depends, I think, somewhat on how close the photos are to each other on the scan. More space between the photos will help it do its job better. I have checked, and there does not seem to be a loss of resolution like there would be if you cropped each one.

    Good luck!
  6. georgegarrigues macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2010
    * Buy a scanner that has a function to copy negatives. If you still have the negative you will have a much better e-image. The same scanner will let you copy color slides as well; it will also have plastic frames to hold the various sizes of film and slides. I have an Epson V700.
    * For copying, use the software that comes with the scanner. If possible, do the cropping there. Save the images as tiff or tif files. Drop the scans into a folder on your desktop. Give the images generic names, nothing fancy. The software might add a number to help you tell them apart.
    * When you are about halfway though your evening of scanning, move the images into iPhoto. Delete the images from your Desktop folder.
    * Use iPhoto to adjust the exposure, color balance, contrast, etc., as well as the cropping if you did not do it already in your scanning software. You don't need Photoshop Elements to do this.
    * Title each image with the date as the first part of the title, like "1939.09.15 Grandma Emily at Ruth's house." If you have several images of the same thing or taken on the same date, you can use "Batch Change" to help you.
    * Make a smart folder to hold each image whose title begins with a certain year, like "1939 titles".
    There are many more tips, too, but I can't list them all here.
    Good luck to all who are engaged in this same project. To see what I have done, go to http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id=550367239
    Sincerely, your friend, George
  7. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    My dad uses the canoscan 8800f. I have used it quite a few times.

    You might want to be careful with the software that comes with your selected scanner as in my case the canon software is very buggy.

    I have now settled with VueScan which does a really nice job!

    The 8800f also has the ability to scan negatives. Either 35mm or 120 which is lucky as 120 is what I shoot!

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