Family Photo Project
August 23, 2005 4:57 PM   Subscribe

Family Photo Project - I'm working on a "How to" for a project to turn my family's entire photo history into a easily searchable, sortable, and archived digital collection. I would like some insight on my plan.

You can find my plan here.
You can find the eventual Flickr home here.

I have a ton of questions, but what I really would like is for some people to read the plan over and see what you think about it. Are there any major problems with the details? Is there anything I'm over looking? Any story's? Any other plans exist that I can reference? This is a lot of work to do and I'm trying to anticipate problems, before I have to go back and start from the beginning.

If you could make any suggestions or comments, that would be much appreciated. But for those more interested, here are some more detailed questions I had.

1. Am I scanning the photos at a high enough resolution?
2. Am I saving the files the right way, in the correct file formats?
3. Is my scanner of a quality that is up to this task?
4. Should I be color correcting and cropping old photos? (I feel this takes away from their authenticity when I fix the colors. Or am I just fixing what time couldn't)
5. Is the software I'm using (Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements 3 with photo album) the correct software to scan, fix, and Album my photos.
6. I'm only putting the lower resolution Jpgs into the Adobe Elements Album, should I be placing the originals in there too and somehow connecting them together?
7. When I crop a photo such as a 3.5x3.5 that has a white border. Should I crop the excess around the white border? Or crop the white border off as well?

Paying a service to do this for me is not an option as I'm sure its pricey, and I'm a poor college student. But...

8. What reliable services are there that would do this? Any story's or experiences?
9. I don't plan on scanning the negatives (even though the scanner can) as I don't like the way they come out. But for the future, what services are there where I can have the negatives professionally scanned.

10. Is there anything about the project that makes it pointless because it will have to be redone in a few years?

Please pass on any links, comments, stories or advice. I'll take it all in and am going to try to reference it into my plan.
posted by Mroz to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Right now I can only answer one question: #4

Never crop the photos unless there is absolutely nothing there. Later generations will appreciate the view of the family car or grandma's old couch. If you'd like to crop for a close up of a face, go ahead - but keep the original, too. Also don't crop the white borders if this was the norm for the time period of the picture - okay for your niece's school pic taken last year; not okay for a 1950 pic. Stay original as best you can, like you said, keep it authentic

Color correct, etc. only if the photo is physically damaged. If you must correct, then again save a scan of the original.

Good luck. It's sounds like such a fun and meaningful project.
posted by LadyBonita at 5:38 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Assuming most of the photos were shot on 35mm film, you'll have better and more consistent results (and a lot less handling of the materials) if you get a negative scanner. It will allow you to scan at a higher resolution (I'd go for the maximum you're able to store) and it reduces the surfaces that you'll need to clean - no glass or scanner cover to worry about.

And you might want to invest in some dust guns. Make certain that you're negatives (or photographs if you stick with the flatbed) are absolutely clean. Dust specks and fingerprints are frustratingly visible in high res scans.

Good luck!
posted by aladfar at 7:12 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: Alot of it isn't shot on 35mm. A bunch 110, and a ton of the old stuff on I don't know what. I havn't seen the negatives yet, but I'm positive its not 35mm. Any leads on a recomended negative scanner?
posted by Mroz at 7:20 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: Is there something called a dust gun beyond air powered cans? Thats all I'm finding online, but I pictured something with a static charge or something like that.
posted by Mroz at 7:32 PM on August 23, 2005

Negative scanners can get very expensive very quickly, but there are a few good entry-level ones that are plenty good enough for what you want to do. Minolta makes one right now that I love -- it's the DiMAGE Scan Dual IV. Of course, most film scanners at the entry-level price range won't handle anything but 35mm slides and negative strips plus/minus Advantix rolls, so you might not even want to consider this route.

As for handling the negatives themselves, you can use a powered air can PLUS a static dust brush; Staticmaster makes the best ones. You might also want to think about lightweight cotton gloves; fingerprints almost always show up on scanned negatives if you look close enough. :)
posted by delfuego at 7:45 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: Looking good. There are still a ton of photos that this won't cover. There is a claim that all the negatives still exist, but I won't believe till I see.

How large of a print can I get from scanning a negative?
posted by Mroz at 7:57 PM on August 23, 2005

Realistically, as large as you want, but of course it depends on the quality of the film scanner. I'd guess that the scan quality from that Minolta is easily good enough to make a huge (20x30 or bigger) print; I made a 20x30 from a negative scan I did on a predecessor of that scanner, and it looks great.
posted by delfuego at 8:04 PM on August 23, 2005

For archival purposes, nothing beats film that is properly stored. That means in a semi-dry environment with relatively constant temperaure and humidity. CD's are not archival unless you spend some money on the special gold ones specifically for that purpose. Even those are not 100% guaranteed if image formats change or CD's become the 5-1/4" floppies of the future.

By all means, scan the film to make it more accessible to family on the internet or with interactive CD's. But unless you have some prints you want to make then stick with smaller resolutions/image sizes. For a decent photo quality 8x10 size print, I don't think you need to go much beyond 300dpi. I have a Minolta DiMage Dual Scan for negative formats up to 6x9cm and it works great for making high quality and large prints. But it is pricey at around $1800 (still much cheaper than an equivalent quality digital camera).
posted by JJ86 at 1:28 AM on August 24, 2005

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