Help fix the roadblock in my photo scanning workflow

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Drewski, May 2, 2014.

  1. Drewski macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2011
    Somewhere else
    I have been using flatbed scanners for years to archive / edit / distribute / etc. I've managed to work out an efficient workflow for everything except the actual placement of the photo on the platen.

    :confused: How do I keep the photo square? :confused:

    Ok, that may make me sound like an idiot, but so be it. Sometimes the most obvious solution is the easiest to overlook. I have this issue most prominently when scanning in bulk, i.e., more than one print on the platen at a time. Many of the prints will be slightly convex on the picture side (namely commercially developed, non-pro pics), so they do not sit perfectly flat, and due to a little static, not enough contact, tactile adhesion, and/or my bumbling paws, they will too often slide around and require adjustment.

    It gets really aggravating when I keep moving the same print over and over and it keeps sliding out of square.

    So when you are scanning at home/work, how do you avoid that issue?
  2. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Fix it after it was scanned in program.
    I scan and copy things all day long and i always have this problem, too. Doesn't bother me too much though.

    Btw: if you try to get it perfectly right on the glas you will probably end up in the looney bin.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You have two problems here and one was answered already

    - after scanning, you can use a software solution to rotate the image and line up the vertical and horizontal. Some scanning software provide 1 step alignment options as well.

    - photos that are not flat present a few challenges. If the photo is not brittle you are in good shape to handle some corrections. If the photo is brittle (meaning if you try to force it flat it may crack or otherwise damage the image you will need to take extra steps and a flatbed may not be your best option). If photo is reasonable bendable, it becomes a matter of providing enough weight on the photo while scanning to get it reasonably flat. Sometimes, you might opt to scan the photo up to 4 times if there are minor distortions with each scan the photo being oriented differently on the scanner and then go to a software to "stack" the generated files. Please see below:

    Scan the photo in the normal position, then scan upside down then rotate to sideways and repeat. This process is more used for reducing slight textures on photo surfaces but at times, it can also reduce areas that are slightly distorted from not being flat with the rest of the photo. It really is the post processing that does the "magic" and something you might have to investigate. Stacking is not a bad way to go and then more aggressive actions that are more commonly associate with software like Photoshop.

    Last - for photos that are brittle and curved, skip the scanner and be prepared to use a camera. This can be tricky and lots of patience is require to shoot a copies of sections of the photo and stitch back together (after some modifications are made depending on the issue at hand). The key is to get the center of the lens the same distance each time from the center of the section of the photo you are shooting while making that section parallel to the camera lens. If you are good at Photoshop (or similar), you can try first to take one photo, and work with tools that exploit distortion to "undo" some distortion. Some are related to perspective and others flat out are intended to stretch and distort.

    I hope the above was clear and if not, PM me.
  4. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I used my Scansnap S1500 to scan a bunch of old snapshots. Printed one out and it was hard to tell it from the original. Got through a few hundred pix in short order.

    In your case you might consider making a template out of poster board to hold the size of pix you're scanning. Lay them out in their individual slots and put the cut out board in to hold them down. They can't move when lowering the cover.
  5. Drewski thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2011
    Somewhere else
    This is very interesting. I started out my scanning interests in earnest when I wanted to restore and enlarge lots of my grandfather's WW2 photos, and others from that era. You describe a novel (to me) way to improve on the scanning process for some of these more difficult photos.

    I have been considering this option more and more lately for the thousands of "shoebox" photos that are accumulating around here. While there are certainly old photos with historical and genealogical significance that I would like to enlarge and frame (esp. the photos clearly done professionally and/or with this intent) that need the hands-on attention with a flat-bed, I have become somewhat of the family photo archivist, and the vast majority of these photos are of the point and shoot variety. I.e., most are "throw away" photos that would be nice to see in a slide show, but will not lose their effectiveness if they aren't of portfolio quality: A digital version of a family scrapbook, in other words.

    Of course, an option for these photos would be one of the many scanning services, but doing the math, I'm far beyond the cost of, say, the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500 for example, if I only sent in half the pics in my queue. And that queue is just the tip of the iceberg. (I realize that the ix500 is probably not intended for bulk photo scanning, but if it works...) I should be able to slip that one into the budget unnoticed. ;)

    Too late.
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I am glad to see you are motivated to find a useful workflow.

    Working with old photographs is something I do more than a hobby or family project. If you really get into this more than just passing, you might consider a couple of software apps for generic use (that is - flat photo simple adjustments of contrast etc.) - Vuescan and SilverFast. Silverfast is considered the top choice for prosumers. Vuescan remains a steady option with less cost.

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