Old scanned photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by glenthompson, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I've started scanning in some of my old 35mm prints so I have all my pix in digital form. Been using my ScanSnap S1500 which does a decent enough job.

    My question is how others that have done this organized their scanned images. Some of the photos don't have dates on them so any it's just a guess as to when they were taken. Do you try to group them into coherent events and approximate a date? Any other tips? Some are just single pictures from an event in the past.

    I'm using Aperture for photo management.
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Are you talking about photo prints or negatives and slides? No matter - best to realize with some photo management tools you can put in metadata that allows multiple ways to look up your "library of images."

    Ideally the date would be great or approximate date
    decade whatever

    You can also, depending on your photo management software add information such as "vacation in Rio" and then you can use that as a look up and all photos with that info will come up in a group.

    There are several forums on Aperture on how to catalogue images. Consider it all a matter of cross referencing when you have no real start point to work with. I can think of the easiest example - a parent. Every image that a parent is in you can add in the info - "MOM" or "DAD" ...when you look up MOM or DAD, all those images no matter the date or location will pop up.

    This will take time so best to off line think of descriptors that are meaningful to the way you might look up images.
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    phrehdd has offered up some great suggestions. I'm going to expand on this one (quoted above).

    I suggest you meta-tag all photos with the date (actual or approximate) using ' yyyy mm dd '(or use another separators). If you don't know the actual date use ' 00 ' (zero zero) for the day and/or month - ' 0000 ' for the year. Starting with the year first this way puts all the images from a year together.

    You can then sort a batch of photos by date, with the 'unknowns' being grouped together and at the top. You can also set up a Smart Album (or Albums) to look for ' 00 ' in the meta-tag. The Smart Album(s) can be configured to just show those photos without an accurate date (or conversely - only those with an accurate date).

    By the using ' 00 ' for the unknown values you are keeping a consistent structure. Is ' 2011 ' (for instance) the 20th day of the 11th month, or the year 2011. If you used ' 2011 00 00 ' it is easy to tell.

    Hope this helps.
  4. glenthompson thread starter macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Good ideas. On some of the pix I know the approximate year like early 80s or mid 90s. Some had printing dates on the back but they don't always match the actual event if not printed in a timely manner.

    My current procedure in Aperture is to import pix based on dates (usually one project per day) and then use albums to tie them into a coherent theme like a vacation. Biggest problem on the images scanned in was the lack of coherent order since a lot were jumbled into mismatched piles.

    I see a lot of manual updates in my future. On the plus side, the volume isn't that great since I culled out a lot of the forgettable pictures.
  5. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    This is a big project... (just warning you).

    I always do a first pass organization by projects. However, for my purposes (mostly family themed projects)... daily granualarity is way too fine. Instead, my projects are defined by the starting date of the themed event. Example might be:

    2013-04-28 | Maui with friends

    So even though we were there for two weeks, all the pictures are in that one project.

    Then starts the organization:
    • First, I will select the project and assign a geotag location for the entire set of pictures. My predefined location would be someplace on the island, with the scope of the geotag opened up to the whole island. When prompted, if I should overwrite geotag data on individual pictures... I say no. Now all the pictures have a location in Maui... either my default location, or an actual geotagged location (ex: from my iPhone GPS).
    • Next, I'll go through and make an accept/reject pass... to get rid of the total crap.
    • Next, I go through and assign tags. I have number of specialized "tagging pages" set up, so this is very fast to do.
    • Next, I will make a pass through rating 1-4 stars. I reserve 5 stars for pictures that have additional editing. I might later make a 4* into a 5* if I feel that no editing/enhancement is necessary... but usually there is something to do.
    • Next, I do the stacking (sometimes I do that before rating).
    • Next I make smart albums. Selects, photos for slideshow, photos for books, etc.
    • Finally, at some point, I will enhance pictures (generally with Nik Software) for these special projects (such as books).

    Having said all of that, I'll give more detail on 10's of thousands of slides/negatives/prints that I have scanned.

    When I go back in time, I have no idea what the actual date of the "event" might have been. Heck, I am lucky if I can pinpoint events to within a month or two... and futher back, even to within a year. However... it just does not matter. So my projects from all those scanned photos are in:

    30s/40's/50's (pictures of my folks)
    60's (my youth)
    70's (my college years)
    ... then starting in 1976 (the year I was married and when I really started a photo collection)...

    Folders for each year with:

    YYYY-MM-DD | Event name

    Now clearly... back in 1976 and for many years, we don't have a clue what the actual date is... but it really doesn't matter. I just use the above naming format for all projects because it is clean.. naturally sorts to chronological... and the vertical like makes a clean straight line down the directory separating the date and the event.

    Regarding scanned projects... the other thing that we needed to (in addition to all the normal organization steps listed above)... was to adjust the time/date of the photo metadata, to replace the scanned date/time... to something that matched the event date of the project. That way, when you sort by date, they remain in order.

    Hope this helped.


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