Deployment Projects: Photo Scanning

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We’ve been talking about the importance of having a hobby to keep yourself busy during your spouse’s deployment. This week, we’re talking about another project idea: photo scanning.

Depending on your age and the size of your family, you might have totes full of photo albums or loose photographs stashed away in a closet. Over time, pictures can fade or become stuck together. By scanning and saving them now, you can preserve those family memories.

There are services you can hire to scan your photos for you. You can find them online by searching, “photo scanning services.” However, with a moderate cost for some simple equipment, you can do the same thing yourself on your schedule.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A computer
  • The hard drive of your computer or online data storage (cloud service) to save the scans, or, burn them to CD’s. That makes it easy to share them with family members.
  • A scanner
  • Photo editing software is optional, in case you want to repair the images: Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements would work. 

If you decide to take on this project, the technicians at ScanCafe offer a few suggestions.

  1. Clean your scanner glass and images. For a flatbed scanner, clean the glass around every 50 scans. To get the best scans, make sure the glass and images are dust- and fingerprint-free.
  2. Position the image carefully and complete the scan, preferably at 600 dots per inch (DPI) for photos. Setting your scanner for 600 DPI scans the pictures at a resolution high enough so they could be printed and not lose any clarity.

If you’re scanning pictures from a photo album with sticky pages and plastic overlays, you may want to consider leaving the pictures in the pages and scan right through the overlay. If you try to peel those pages open to remove the pictures, those older albums might damage your photos.

Try to scan more than one image at a time. Be sure to leave about half an inch in between each photo so your scanner can detect that you're scanning two separate images and create two different files for you automatically.

Joto Paper describes DPI settings as, “Normally web graphics are 72 dots per inch (DPI) and printed graphics are 300 DPI. ..web graphics need to be small in size so that it can be downloaded and viewed quickly. On your computer screen, 72 DPI is enough resolution...what may look good on the computer screen, may not look good when printed."

  1. If the image is 10 years old, chances are it will need repairs for scratches, fading and color-shifting. Assuming you know the appropriate software already and the severity of the repairs needed, this should take 4-7 minutes per photo.
  2. As you name and save your new digital images, try organizing them, but just a little bit. “It will be handy to spend a little time organizing your photos at a very high level — for example, grouping them by decade. This will prevent total chaos without taking too much time. Then you can organize them in more detail later, using your computer.”

If there are multiple images that you’ve scanned that are of the same subject matter, add a numbering sequence to the image name, for example: 001 Mom at the beach 2013, 002 Mom at the beach 2013, etc.

Start this project by scanning any framed ones you have in your home. Start small and see how well the process works for you.

Once you’re ready to dive into the loose photos, have another empty tote or box ready. Once you've scanned a photo, toss it into the new box. This way, you can know at a glance which photos you’ve already scanned.

What’s your favorite place to take photos of your family and friends? Share with us in the comments! Thinking about buying your new home this fall? Start your search with us!

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