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Preserving Your Photos & Images

Tips to Consider


How Are You Going to Organize Your Images?

BEFORE you start to scan all photographs, slides, and negatives into a digital format, think about how you are going to organize them. Too many times we jump into scanning our images into oddly described folders that are created from the scanning software and all over different locations on their hard drive.

How can you actually backup your scanned photos, if they are scattered all over your computer's file structure? Scanning images takes a lot of time! Why risk the chance of losing all that work? How are you going to label them, date them, and then in an organized way, file them into a well structured file system?

As you think about organizing your files, think about an organizational structure that will allow you to easily find your photos. Will you store them by months and years? By activities? By families? There is no specific directive in how you must store them. Think about how your family members might access and find the photos they would like to see? Can you imagine hundreds of oddly labeled folders with unlabelled images in each of them? Without labels, those photos will one day become nameless faces in your digital folders.

One other consideration to think about. Many folks have stored their digitized images on USB Flash Drives. There are inherent risks in doing so. These devices are great to use while scanning photos using a library's scanners, and then transporting them home, however these digital file should not be kept on these small devices.

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Getting Your Physical Photos Scanned to Digital Images

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A common scanning mistake as a beginner is to scan using incorrect scanning resolutions. Another is to not understand output compressions, only to discover later that all their scanned images were overly compressed.

Before scanning, think about what you are going to use the images for? Will you be scanning full size scrapbook pages? Are you going to also extract or crop out some of the photos from those page? Depending on what you are going to be doing with those scrapbook pages, there will be differences in what scanning resolutions you will use.

How will you output your digital images? Will you use tiff, jpeg, png, etc as the image types? Are you planning on editing some of the photos? How much drive space do you have to store these images? These are things to consider before you start to scan your images.


Improving Your Image Quality

Probably most folks are happy just to get all their photos digitally preserved, an of course, organized. However, the original photos or slides that they have scanned may be of low quality due to scratches, or color changes, water damage, mold, etc. Through the process of digitally editing photographs, many of these problems can be corrected to improve the quality of your photos.

There are basically two types of image restoration corrections, that of 1) improving lighting and color correction, and 2) removing defects like scratches, tears, etc from the digital image.

Correcting poor light or color quality can be done fairly easily AND quickly with free software and without much of a learning curve. Removing defects in a photo does involve a learning curve, and the purchase of better software to do so.

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Our heritage and that of our ancestors will be lost to subsequent generations unless we actively take steps to preserve it.

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Stephen A Meyers
Idaho Falls, Idaho

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