Guest post by: Art Taylor
If you've been reading the post comments on this website in the last month, I'm sure you've seen 1 or 7 detailed comments from a man named Art Taylor.
I haven't met someone in some time who is as passionate about preserving photographs as he is. And since he's been so generous sharing his scanning experience with others, I couldn't help but take him up on his offer to write a few guest posts for us.
Art has been an amateur photographer for over 40 years, taking close to 50,000 or more slides and negatives on film. But, what really got my attention was his love for trains. Even though I can't say I have ever ridden a real train — just miniature ones in amusement parks — I just love them. Most of Art's photo collection was taken of trains and railroad-related subjects.
Hey, welcome to my second progress report!
Every month, I am posting a detailed report just like this one sharing with you how far I have come with my goal to scan and restore my entire 10,000+ family photo collection.
By doing so, I hope to inspire you to do the same!
In my first progress report, I set a goal for myself to do a little bit of work on my collection every single day, and I am going to detail each one of them so that you can learn from my transparency.
I don't want to be “that guy” — a guy that tells you how you should scan your own photos but then sends all of my own to a scanning service to do the work for me.
I have absolutely nothing against these services. In fact, I love them!
But, I want to not only prove to myself that I can do this, but more importantly, I want to prove to you how almost anyone can scan and organize their own photo collection too!
It's not impossible. It's just about putting in the time, energy and devotion.
A reader writes, “Hi, Firstly, thank you for your tips about adding descriptions in your post ‘The Best Way to Add a Description (Caption) to Your Scanned Photos.' I tried what you suggested with iPhoto (’11), but the description was not exported to Preview and it wasn’t included in emailed photos.”
Hey Carol, thanks for your comment! And you know I bet there are a lot of people having this problem, so let me try and shed some light on this.
You bring up a shortcoming that I think iPhoto has — well really, a lot of the image managers and photo editors. I mean Apple makes it so easy to change the titles (names) of your photos and add descriptions (captions) to them, but it seems anytime you want to do something with these titles and descriptions, well… you can't.
The problem is iPhoto and a lot of photo managers appear to be a little stingy with the information you type into them. It almost seems like they are afraid that at any moment, you are going to consider jumping ship and leave them for a different photo manager, so they make it harder than it should be for you to get all of your hard work out from it.
The good news is there are ways to get your photos and descriptions out, you just have to do it in the few ways iPhoto allows you to. It's basically the equivalent of as asking, “pretty please?”
I just came across this very positive and endearing article about a woman by the name of Rebecca Manson who volunteered for six months, working to save other people's flood-damaged photos.
At first, I thought it was going to be a completely negative story. Valerie Zehl starts out the article on Pressconnects.com telling us about a horrible situation that Ann Olsen of Endwell, NY found herself in last September.
Valerie explains that, “Ann's Castle Gardens home was inundated. Hundreds — including one-of-a-kind shots of her late mother and brother — were underwater. When she could get to them days later she tried to make ‘photo sandwiches' with absorbent material between the wet pictures, but could do only a few of them.”
At that moment while I was reading this, I felt so bad for Anne. I really can't imagine what that must feel like to look down at these “smelly, flood-muddied crates” and know that what's left inside used to be all of your priceless photographs.
How Quickly You Could Scan Your Entire Photo Collection — What I Discovered From My First Week of Scanning
So you have a closet with boxes full of old prints and slides that you are dying to have scanned and neatly organized on your computer.
The problem is, you're worried about it either costing you way too much money to send it to a scanning service, or taking too much of your precious free time to scan them yourself on a flatbed scanner.
Does this sound EXACTLY like your dilemma?
I'd like to share with you my experience back scanning photos for the first week. If you want to make scanning your own photos fit into your busy and hectic life, I think my experience here might give you an idea how much time will be involved and how many photos you can easily get through.
This is going to be the first of many monthly — if not every 2 months — reports that I am planning on publishing that will summarize my most recent progress to digitize my family's photo collection.
Scanning, organizing, labeling, and color correcting an enormous family photo collection is a major project that I am obviously not taking lightly.
In each of these reports, the first thing I'm going to do is mention what I've been doing the past month or 2 to either work towards my personal goal with my collection or just to improve this website.
Next I will reveal my latest “Scanning & Editing” count that will show you exactly how far I have come with my collection from the last report.
And lastly, I will finish up with the most important things I have recently learned that I think you will benefit in hearing and possibly what I have planned for the near future.
“Hi there. Since you have and use an Epson Perfection V600 I wanted to ask you what is the optimal scan settings for scanning film negatives?
Right now I use 12800 dpi, but I have a feeling it's overkill and all my indoor night time pictures have a lot of grain. I certainly appreciate whatever advice you have to offer.” ~ Walter Ho.
Walter, thanks for writing me. Let me see if I can help you out with this one.
I would say your gut feeling is right on — 12800 dpi is going to be overkill for negatives. Hopefully you haven't scanned too many of them if you want to do them over.
The Coolest Place For Bill Gates to Store His 15 Million Famous and Historically Important Photographs
If you're having problems just coming up with a suitable place to safely store your family's photo collection, just think what it would be like storing the 15 million photographs, negatives and glass plates that make up this Corbis collection!
PopPhoto recently posted this video from CBS “The Early Show” that gives us a rare look inside of Iron Mountain, a 150 acre maximum security cold storage facility (vault) 220 feet below ground in Boyers, Pennsylvania in what used to be a limestone mine. These photos that are stored in a part of this space go back to the 19th century — 150 years — covering celebrities, athletes, presidents and iconic historical moments.
Take a look at this fascinating 6 minutes of video:
I love that we have scanning services out there because I think it would be ignorant of me to assume every one of us with a collection of prints, negatives or slides, who wants a digital version of them, is willing to scan their own photos by hand.
“Excuse me ma’am. Um, but could you like, um, put those cotton gloves on? Please? Yeah. Um. No. How about the thicker ones. Over there. Yeah, those.”
So with this in mind, let me say, doing this review was a big — scratch that — huge step for me. This was the first time I have ever sent any of my family’s photos to a scanning service — or even out of my sight.
But, for me, it’s always been a hard transaction to consider — this whole idea of sending my irreplaceable photographs to a company or someone I have never met and expect everyone who handles them to care for them the same way I do.
When you start scanning your photographs — if you're lucky — you get to make this choice:
Do you want to scan your original camera negatives, or the prints made from them?
And what I mean by lucky is that many of us didn't hold onto our negatives when we had prints made from them. We got what we wanted when took them to the Photo Bug or the Photo Hut or the drug store down the street — a stack of photos to stick in our photo albums. So, I guess a lot of us probably felt safe tossing out the film negatives.
I think we are almost to the point where I can safely say there is no such thing as a bad photograph.
Aside from the photos that are accidentally shot off or the ones where the camera is completely set wrong (for example in the more complicated manual modes), every photo — even the “bad” ones — will one day be a few clicks away from being usable.
Photo Magic is Already Here or Just Around the Corner!
In October of 2011, Jue Wang, senior research scientist at Adobe, showed off a jaw-dropping “sneak peak” of some technology that will make all of you who threw out all of your so called “bad photos” wish you had that day back to do over again!
Guest post by:
Today, I would like to share something a little different here on “Scan Your Entire Life.” Usually it's just me going on and on about my experience dealing with my photo collection. But not this time.
A couple months ago, Peter Fuller, a fellow reader of this website wrote and shared with me his experience getting started on the project of scanning his entire photo collection.
We wrote back and forth several times discussing the details of his workflow. He had questions for me and I had some questions for him. I became immediately intrigued hearing his story shopping for a particular model of scanner he wished to purchase where he lives.
At some point, I received an email from Peter asking me this:
If I sent you a piece about my experiences/ learning’s scanning photos, would you be prepared to publish it?
I had never thought about having guest posts on my site so soon — but how could I refuse!
Ah, there's nothing quite like reading a great caption to go along with a special photograph. Sometimes they're so effective, they just seal the emotional experience of being there—as if you were right there when that photograph was taken—even if you weren't!
I think it's so important that you record these “priceless” descriptions as soon as you can. Some of us might think we can remember all of the details. But face it, you probably won't be able to. They're fleeting. And even if you could, you and your memory aren't going to be on this earth forever.
With prints, it was easy to record this information by writing the stories by hand on the back. But, now that we are wishing to move our prints, slides and negatives to a digital form in our computer, how do we easily add this information so that it can live with each master image file?
Q&A – “From your site and the other information I've found on the net, I think we should scan our photo collections in TIFF, at 600 dpi, using your naming convention / workflow. You don't cover TIFF versus other formats in your articles, but I see you are using that format and there seems to be general acceptance that it is the best format for archiving. What do you think of the PNG format?”
Peter, that is a great question. And you're right, up until now I have not covered what I feel is the best file format(s) to save scanned photos with. But, as you astutely noticed, I did sort of allude to my personal choice in a couple of my posts. Especially in some of my images I used in my 3-part “naming convention” series you brought up called “What Everyone Ought to Know When Naming Your Scanned Photos.”
I could really use your help.
Getting all of your photos into your computer seems like it should be such an easy thing to accomplish these days. You hook up a flatbed scanner and then push the scan button a few times. Or you connect your digital camera via USB cable and then magically, your digital photo collection is complete! Don't we all wish it was that easy!
In fact, even those of us who make it a little bit easier on ourselves by hiring a scanning service for our prints and slides still have a lot of work to do before and afterwards. You see, getting your photos into a digital form is only part of the entire process.
Unless you have found a way to scan your entire photo collection in a pre-organized “beginning to end” kind of way, I've found you're going to need a way to know tomorrow, or possibly months later, whether or not you have already scanned a particular photograph.
And you're going to want to know by just looking at a print or slide in front of you – without booting up your computer to do a search. Trust me.
The problem I discovered when I started scanning my collection was unless I was immediately moving the slides or prints I had just scanned to a different storage place – a new photo album or new archival pages for example – I would sometimes forget whether or not I had scanned some of them!
Sometimes your scanned or digital camera photo collection is just so massive it takes over your entire hard drive. Maybe even to the point where it's now completely full!
If you don't want to replace your current hard drive with a larger one, moving your photo collection to an emptier hard drive is always another option.
This 4-minute video tutorial will show you the secret trick how to safely move your iPhoto libary to another hard drive. Do it wrong and you might accidentally ruin your entire collection.
I haven't ordered a photobook from Shutterly – yet. But, at $10 I can barely see a reason to not give them a try!
Okay, granted – tax and shipping and handling isn't included. But it's still a great deal.
I'm gonna have to jump on this one myself.
I am really excited to share this information with you. Where I discovered to store all of my paper photographs wasn't what I had in mind when I went looking for a place. But when I found it, I instantly knew it was going to be my favorite place to store them forever.
Imagine my happiness when I discovered something that was archival quality, better and more functional than standard photo albums. Several companies make these PVC-free plastic photo pages using a safe material called Polypropylene. They're surprisingly clear and lightweight, and are meant to hold photos on both sides. And they're actually fairly affordable when you buy them in bulk.
It was seriously a life changing day when I discovered the magic of a “non-destructive” photo managing program.
With “non-destructive” editing, all of the edits (enhancements) you make to your photographs are managed by the program itself. Your original photo remains untouched. It's like having a guardian angel that protects your master images at all costs. It's brilliant and is 100% absolutely indispensable to me now.