Scanning old Family Albums: Color Correct? Also sorting/tagging/labeling

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by LtCarter47, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. LtCarter47 macrumors regular

    LtCarter47

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    Location:
    Roseville, CA
    #1
    I've undertaken the long project of digitizing my parent's and grandparent's photo albums. They were mostly indifferent when I proposed it but I think it's important. I'm already a few books in and came across some photos yesterday that made me pause and wonder if I should start over...

    So far I've just been using a simple flatbed (Canon Canoscan 4400F) with Image Capture (it seems to be pretty good at handling multiple photos at once). I decided to scan at 600dpi and save as JPG because I didn't foresee any photos being modified, and the TIFF versions were something like 5 times the file size.

    What I came across last night was my parent's wedding album in which all or most of the photos are very, very warm in color. I played with some of the manual corrections in image capture to see what the preview would look like (see attached before and after - hello 70s!). I have no idea if the photos intentionally look this way or if they have changed over the years. I know there are plenty of photos in other albums that have off colors and such.

    My question is, would you attempt to color correct these or would you scan them as they appear in the physical albums? I'm kind of leaning towards leaving them as they are, but I'm not sure.

    This situation also has me reconsidering starting again and going ahead with TIFF in case there are some that I would like to alter after the fact. Do you think it's worth the space? I couldn't tell a JPG version apart from a TIFF version when I looked at them side by side. Maybe I'm not thinking about it in the right way though. Should I think of TIFFs the way I do RAW files in Aperture? I can play with them all day but I still have the original RAW that is untouched. However when I export a RAW(as the master RAW file), the adjustments I made don't come with it (this I may be doing wrong, I am entirely self taught with Aperture and probably have a lot more to learn), so what would be the main benefit here?

    My second question is about labeling, tagging, sorting, etc.. Most of the photos are extremely general and are not grouped into events, vacations, trips, etc., so I cant group them into event subfolders easily. For now I've been making the filenames "(year.month) (names of people in the photo separated by comma) (any additional relevant info, such as location, if it's written on the back)". Does this seem like a good way to go about it?

    Any suggestions are much appreciated, I would like these digitized photos to be useful in some way other than just being copies of the originals, I just don't know in what way yet! :rolleyes:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
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    #2
    I'd use TIFF then throw them into Aperture.

    You can then apply common processing across them all in an automated way (cool them down, apply saturation, sharpening etc.).

    Are they really that big?
     
  3. LtCarter47 thread starter macrumors regular

    LtCarter47

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    Location:
    Roseville, CA
    #3
    I think that's what I'll be doing. I'm only 2.5 albums in re-scanning as TIFFs. So far the smaller ones are about 1-2GBs per album with small photos at 10MB and large ones at around 60MB. Does that sound reasonable?
     
  4. Beachin macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Location:
    NC
    #4
    I work with old family photos on a daily basis for my clients. I have handled everything from Civil War to the present. These photos that I scan are put into hardbound books, hopefully with the family stories to go with them.

    I ALWAYS do/suggest scanning the photos as is. The coloring on the photos depicts the age and era of a photo. I think that the coloring tells part of the story behind it. In fact, unless a photo is extremely damaged, I don't suggest photoshopping in any way.

    If you want to blow up a photo, put it on a canvas, etc., then correct that one(s) only. Even then, retain the original photo scan.
     
  5. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #5
    Beachin - that's the benefit of using Aperture. The original TIFF files are never modified. All 'edits' get saved as instructions in a database and will only be applied to new copies that you export.
     
  6. Waybo macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #6
    Get the Stories, too!!!

    May I recommend that you interview your parents and grandparents NOW? Write down their stories: who these people in the pictures are, what is the story behind the picture. As they get older, they won't remember. And, as you get older, unless you write it all down, you won't remember. Consider videoing them, while they tell some stories of their childhood. I wish I had done it while I could. You are making a good start! Good luck! (And yes, I'd store them as high quality tiff's, with a version stored off-site.)
     
  7. LtCarter47 thread starter macrumors regular

    LtCarter47

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    Location:
    Roseville, CA
    #7
    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I was a bit overwhelmed when I started out, but I think I have a clear plan and process now. This weekend I had some time with my parents and grandparents to go over the photos I've scanned so far and got a lot of good information. I think I'll keep this up and get with them to go over each batch a week or two at a time. :)
     
  8. joepunk macrumors 68030

    joepunk

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    Location:
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    #8
    I know I'll be going down the same path as you as soon as I get a good scanner. I have lots of family photos and slides that need scanning. Oh, and I have an old stamp collection that I will probably photograph.

    For me I would scan them as TIFFs at their original colour (as close as possible) and then you can do some colour corrections later.
     
  9. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

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    #9
    The warm color cast you have in the wedding pictures is due to fading of the colors an is not intentional, you should correct them, some scanner software has color repair built in, sometimes it works great on photo's that are faded that much.
    As others allready said, make a scan as good as you can and save as tiff, preferably 16 bit. After scanning you can import the files in aperture or lightroom to do extra corrections.
     
  10. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #10
    I agree. The color shift apparent in the wedding photos is due to chemical instability -as if 1970s fashion doesn't look bad enough on it's own...

    Now, If I were scanning Kodachrome I probably wouldn't modify a thing because it generally looks as good as the day it was shot (exhibiting very rich colors) and any attempt to scale back the saturation would change the character of the original film. But most consumer color prints from the 1970s are in dire need of help.
    As for Black and white my preference is to adjust for luma only and leave the color as is.
     
  11. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    Jul 20, 2003
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    #11
    Of course if the guy in this shot was looking at the picture it probably would look a little amber, what with those groovey tinted shades!
     
  12. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #12
    On my similar project I decided to restore some that could be and would benefit and to leave others alone. In some cases I will show the same person both in faded glory and in a fixed photo.

    Some people should be shown in their vibrant youth and old faded photos tend to make them seem less real, like they never were young or relevant.

    It's like obituary photos. Sometimes they will have both a recent photo where they look very old along with an old photo where you see this person was damned hot in her youth!

    I recently saw one of a lady who had a vast education and did all sorts of very, very interesting things, got married, had 2.5 children and was a devoted housewife for 80 years or something. She was simply the most stunning woman ever. Just astonishingly good looking.

    It was fitting that she was remembered this way and I suspect that she wanted to surprise some people who only knew her when she was old.
     

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