Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Slimming down my scanning project

After almost two weeks of wrestling with photo albums, loose pictures, documents and the computer, I've decided to "slim down" my scanning project for 2007. Veteran blog readers will recall that I volunteered to scan and digitize the photo collection of my aunt Geraldine (Seaver) Remley (GSR) when I was back east in early May for her memorial service. The family sent me two boxes of stuff and I took a lot home with me.

In the GSR collection, there were about 100 loose photos, several photo collages in frames, and three photo albums. One of the photo albums, with the oldest photos, had the photos glued down onto the pages (sticky surface with a mylar film over them). The other two photo albums have the photos in "magnetic" albums (sticky surface with the mylar sheet cover) but they are not glued down - they all come off the sticky surface pretty easy.

At this point, I've scanned the loose photos, the photo collages, the old album page-by-page (16 pages) and half of the album with the later family photos (50 pages so far, 50 to go). The third album is about 100 pages and is mostly pictures of GSR and the Remley family. I may not get to that one this year.

I've tried to scan the full pages from the albums with the mylar sheets removed. This has worked fairly well, except the pages are just a little too large for my scanner. My aunt wrote some captions on the edges where there wasn't any glue. I've been saving the 9.0 x 12.0 scanned pages as TIF files, which are running about 22 mb each.

After I complete a batch of pages, I go in with my photo editing software (I've been using HP Image Zone and Microsoft Digital Image Standard 2006 Editor) and crop out individual photos of interest and save them with a unique name.

I'm trying to create a series of "albums" in PDF format using the OpenOffice 2.2 Impress presentation software. That way I can have nearly full page size album page photos (or two smaller loose photos per page) and can add text boxes for the captions. I decided to use JPG files for the album page images (only 2 mb in size for most of them) so a 16 page album (the first one) file is about 33 mb.

I will have to break the two bigger albums up into 25 page sections in order to keep the PDF file sizes to a manageable level.

With the loose photos, and the captured images off the album pages, I'm in the process of cropping them to eliminate the photo edges, rotating them if necessary, and making what used to be black-and-white photos really black-and-white. Some of the color photos have faded badly, so I'm experimenting with the automatic color, contrast and other corrections available in the Microsoft software - some have turned out really well with truer color and brighter images.

In addition to digitally replicating the photo albums, my plan is to create a separate set of albums from all of the pictures for each of the six families (my father and his siblings) plus one of the Fred and Bessie Seaver family of Leominster MA. I may run out of time to do this one!

My goal is to create a CDROM with the albums in time for Christmas for each of the cousins and siblings. That way, Aunt Gerry's albums will be distributed to everyone in some sort of fashion - they can page through them on the computer, or print them off if they want, as if she was there with them.

My biggest problem has been that captions on most of the album pages are few and far between. Some of the loose photos and some of the photos in the sticky albums have captions on the back and I'm trying to use them to identify persons, year and location in the photo file names.

This is a much bigger project than I thought it would be. I sure wish I had started this sooner. It is cutting into my research time.

Does anybody have experience doing this type of job or have suggestions for streamlining and improving the process?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Randy

I responded initially to your posted from 11/6 here (genealogistinal)

I am concerned that you will end up with not so good images when you try to print or size if you crop from an entire page scan. I REALLY recommend you scan each photo individually at minimally 300dpi to be able to print a quality print the same size as the original... or if you want to enlarge (depending on how much) start at 600dpi (or greater).

Having done a similar project I feel your pain, but it is WELL worth it when you are done.

Good luck!