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    • In a few weeks, my wife and I will be tasked with an interesting familial task - preserving to a digital format some quantity of family photos. Her family.

      A brother-in-law has the majority of the family photos in some sort of a tote bin that he has had now for probably 30 odd years. Thus, I'm fairly certain there may not be much in the way of order to this pile of memories to digitize for posterity. I've not seen it, but my guess would be less than 500 images from the 1930's to the 1960's. I just don't know. We've got a weekend planned late in August to attack this, so I'm hopeful we'll be able to do most of the heavy lifting in that time frame.

      We'll have a pair of 600 ppi scanners and laptops, so we should be able to get a reasonable throughput, and plan on saving in as lossless format (TIF or PNG) as possible.

      Here's my question for the reader - help me out with metadata methodology. I'm just not certain if there's going to be a system that could be used to adequately capture the who/what/where on any given image scanned. Between my wife and my brother-in-law, they'll have a good handle on that who/what/where. The family matriarch is three time zones away, so being able to send her an image for assistance will be possible. I'm just the systems guy trying to implement the process in a logical means. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Now, what I'm thinking is they'll need to help me with the data; that can be added to the rear of the image in pencil if not already marked. Scan 'em, then add the meta data and we're done.

      My thought process was to let the two of them have at the tote for a bit, but then try to herd them in to execute the task.

      Anybody here ever tackle a project like this? Pointers welcomed!

    • I guess there are a 1000 ways to skin a cat....(that really sounds did that become a saying?)

      If I were to tackle a project like this I would try to categorically try to assign the images to one year, or 5 year or 10 year groups. Scan like a mad man and it will require enormous discipline to stay in scanning mode and not get sidetracked by nostalgia.

      Personally, only because I am more comfortable with this workflow, I would take said groups where I have places my scanned images and assign the category and rename all files in each grouping with a preface followed by an underscore and the a sequential 5 or 6 digit number. I.e 1990_00001

      Then, because your task is so ginormous and the effort might be the last thing you ever do in your life, I would then create an Excel spreadsheet and list all your file numbers, and then maybe add columns like location, caption, keywords (could be names), etc.

      If you are still alive and kicking at this point then I would import those image folders in Lightroom and copy and paste your Excel text over into the appropriate metadata fields in Lightroom. Make sure you SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, and SAVE your work frequently.

      If you are still alive after all this work, I will buy you a soda pop. :)

    • I have been wrestling with old antique family photos - positive color slides, b&w prints, daguerrotypes, sepia prints, color prints, and color negatives since the turn of the century. My LightRoom catalogue contains over 4000 images captured with my Nikon LS 40 scanner, over a 1000 images scanned with an Epson V700 flat bed scanner, and I have photographed with DSLRs another 1000 frames or more, I have lost count, even within Lightroom.

      Getting the "scan" is just the beginning, because if the images are really important to you, you may also want to crop them, color correct them( trust me they won't be color corrected only by scanning ), and edit them in LR or Photoshop or both. Many images will contain dirt or mold spots on the paper or emulsion, that can be improved or removed to make them more satisfactory, but that is not a brief task. I estimate each scan or copy takes me about 5-15 minutes depending on how much effort I want to make. Some images are even upscaled, and passed through LAB color space sometimes, but some of the images may be worth the effort.

      What scanning software are you going to use? I have used VueScan for over 15 years, so I am pretty comfortable with it. I am quite aware that folks recommend saving files to tiffs, but I find good jpgs take a lot lot less space, and if color balance is ok, that they are easy to process.

      Many of the slides from the 1940s that my father shot are not that sharp - Kodachrome had an ISO of about 12, so hand held images required shutter speeds too long to hold still easily, and the camera had zone focusing, so my scanner with only about 4000 pixels is more than adequate to render them. Assuming a subject in the sun, resulted in an exposure of about f8, 1/50th at ISO 12. - If one's subject was in the shade, your shutter speed would drop to 1/6th of a second, unless you opened up your aperture, and many lenses weren't much faster than f4 or so wide open. So many old images by nonprofessional photographers aren't that sharp. The professionals images were routinely tack sharp even in the 19th century.

      This is me in Fort Sam Houston in the winter of 1944-45 - my hand is blurred due to motion, but the building is pretty sharp, and the color balance seems pretty fair for a 75 year old Kodachrome 828 slide.

      Here is an image I made of a great great grandfather from the late 19th century - the original print was only abut 4x5 inches or less but it was a professional portrait from the 1880's or so - copied by DSLR, and edited and cleaned and tidied up to achieve this image which I like. It is not a perfect image, but a much more satisfactory one than the image I started with - the dust motes, mold, and dirt have all been remedied.

      As for metadata about who, where, when , why and other pertinent imformation - I impart some of that information in the title of the scan itself, and much more in a text field in the scan saved by VueScan. You can find VueScan here. Or one can use SilverFast or other scanning software. WIth good addition of metadata to the files, searching for an image in Lightroom or Mojave is a simple fast task, the importance of which really only becomes apparent when you have 1000s and 1000s of images

      Old images, slides, negatives, daguerrotypes, or prints have gathered aquired defects with the passage of time, whether color balance, dust or dirt or scratches, or MAYBE they were less than perfect when they were originally captured - Many of these issues CAN be ameliorated, with an investement in time and effort, but they will not be simply fixed in scanning.... Sometimes some color images are better served, in my hands at least, by converting them to monochrome B&W images, rather than tryng and failing to get a good color balance.

      I suspect this is why vegasphotog has generously offered to buy you a soda after you complete your task...๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      If you have specific questions I will be happy to offer my suggestions as to how I have dealt with various issues. I tend to use a flat bed scanner for printed documents, and a DSLR on a tripod with a cable release to copy prints if they can be made to lie flat. If a print is highly curved, I may scan it on a flat bed scanner then.

    • Here's what I'd do.
      Scan them, name them 'Joe Bloggs at the Beach.png" etc in the actual file name if you have that data. "Image 1.png" if you don't.
      Upload them to Flickr, put them in an Album.
      Invite the matriarch to share the album with editing priveledges, show her how easy it is to edit the info, and let her fill in the details.

      I'll have a double thanks.

    • @vegasphotog I truly have next to zero nostalgia tied to this task, as this is family by marriage. My wife and BIL will be the ones wrapped up in the nostalgia of the images. My wife has turned into the family genealogist, so this'll tie into the work she's done over the years with that.

      Once I get this task rolling...I'll then get to tackle my side of the family with the same process.

      @Pathfinder Excellent points to consider. Again, I have zero expectations on the task size and scope is totally undetermined until I get up the road to physically see it.

      My equipment is an ancient flatbed Epson scanner, and the scanning software it came with. My wife has a more modern scanner that she uses regularly in work, so I have no clue about that configuration. Any severe post-scan defects will probably have to be done as time permits when we get back home. My wife does have an Adobe Creative Cloud account thru her work.

      I'm rather lo-tech at times; I don't own a DSLR so any type of effort that's "take a picture of a picture" is lost on what we're trying to do - right now, anyway.

      @DangerDave Now, that's probably not a bad idea...though not too sure how much our octogenarian matriarch is going to put into this effort - in real-time. My issue is that, as I mentioned in the opening post, she's three time zones away. Now, she does have a bit of technological savvy, and she has a granddaughter local to her that could definitely assist. My initial thoughts were on certain images to simply email or text them to her in order to get any additional insight.

      It'll be an interesting project. ๐Ÿค”

    • >>My equipment is an ancient flatbed Epson scanner, <<

      Around $100 gets you a new Canon 4800dpi USB2 flatbed these days. It would have software to suit the job too I'd bet.

      Search 'Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 Desktop Colour Flatbed Scanner' for starters

      $50 would probably get something serviceable. You know you need it :-)

    • I have a closet full of slides, negatives, and prints of every size & condition imaginable. I decided to tackle scanning some each year with help from daughter, wife, etc. How hard could it be?

      Hard. Oh my gosh. Dust. Getting them out of the carousel and back in. Slow scathing times. Yada. Didnโ€™t seem hard until the hours dragged on.

      So I took a chance and boxed some up to send to a scanning service. Life changing, at least for me. No dust, they labeled the file names according to what was written on the print, slide or envelope. Decent exposure & color. Then I just had to choose the really important ones & edit in Lightroom, add metadata, etc.

    • @DangerDave Well, ancient from a technology perspective - an Epson V100 which was reasonably good back in 2004 when it came out - 3200dpi? I mean, it does state that it uses the new and improved USB 2.0 interface! ๐Ÿ˜œ

      Interestingly, the same software used back then on Windows XP machines - with driver updates obviously - still works on my Win 10 boxes.

      I do need to quiz my wife on what she has as mentioned, her work equipment, so I have no clue.

      I'll have a look at that scanner recommendation. I could possibly speak to the CFO on the subject...after all, I am helping her with this task! ๐Ÿคฃ

      @Chris Your situation sounds similar to what I'll need to consider for when I tackle mom & dad's pile of images. The images they will have will be primarily taken with cheesy Kodak 110 cameras of the era, as Pathfinder described earlier. The work there is going to be dealing with photo albums. Not looking forward to that at all.

      There's the 'saving' part of the task, then there's the 'preservation' part of the job. In farming a job out to be accomplished like this, there's no reminiscing involved. It's just the mechanical process of saving (and improving the image, as needed). When you did the 'preservation' part (metadata, additional retouching...) you also had that ability to review & reflect upon the images.

      This could truly turn out to be a daunting task.

      Appreciate the inputs thus far.

    • Last evening was an educational experience for the two of us...

      My wife's needs for scanning at work are your basic office-level tasks - those mundane items that really don't require a large dollar scanner.

      Due to the types of scanning needs, she has a sheet-feed scanner. We played around with it a bit - the OEM software really allows for some minimal control over scan resolution. With a couple of old snapshots I have, scan speed was fast, with the corresponding decrease in resolution - understood why that happens.

      Same images, scanned with the ancient OEM hardware and software that I have - not much better.

      I've added the Windows Scan app onto my desktop. "Hey, it'll save as PNG or TIF - great!"

      Scanned a couple of those photos on my ancient scanner at 600dpi, then saved as PNG, with the obvious improvement in resolution. The corresponding speed trade-off concerned my wife "OMG, this is going to take forever!"

      So...why hasn't the big-dogs in the scanner world implemented more USB-3 interfaces at the mid-range or lower-range price points? Just curious as my search last night really didn't show many that were native USB 3 in the under $200 price range.

    • One of the reasons I photograph many prints and documents with a DSLR - not even a full frame one, but an APS-C or even m4/3 DSLR captures files instantaneously, and saves them to the memory card for later transfer to a computer, and delivers a 20-25 Mbit Raw file that offers a fair amount of editing ability in LR.

      Once my camera is on a tripod and my lighting set up, I can shoot frames pretty quickly. The exposure doesn't really change, nor does the color balance. I can alter the size of print I am shooting by rasing or lowering the print on a stack of large books, so I can switch between 2x3 inch prints to 8x11 inch prints pretty quickly. Raising or lowering the print is easier and faster than changing the camera height on a tripod. I use a 50mm Macro lens so it has a nice flat field, focuses closely enough, and is small and light. I use a cable release to minimize any vibrations. And I get better RAW files, faster and easier than with my flat bed scanner.

      I spent a few moments looking through film scanners on B&H, and I can't find one that uses a faster computer connection than USB 2.0. I didn't see one.

      The truth is that the time is spent in aquiring the scan data, the transfer of the data to the computer is really not the limiting factor for a 20 or 30 Mbit file, even on USB 2.0

      What is really needed is a first class proconsumer film scanner for 35mm film, that is fast scanning and of high optical quality, but there seems to be a very limited market for these devices any more. I see lots of cheap ones that are of no interest to me.

      For many folks, Chris's suggestion of a scanning service makes a lot of sense - it requires a modicum of high quality equipment, and a fair understanding of image editing to do well. And can be time consuming.

      I do much of mine in the cold of winter when the snow is blowing about....

    • In the technology closet at my wife's place of employment, there's an un-used Epson Perfection V550 Photo. It'll be coming home tonight.

      Besides VueScan and SilverFast, is there some other software that I should consider for the scanning process itself?

    • Hey @kwthom Thanks to your thread and my need to find a particular Valley Trash photo, I am now knee deep into dragging many of my DVD archived images from 2000-2008 on to my ReadyNAS "cloud". DVD's are so 1990. hahahahahahahah

    • The Epson Perfection V600 scanner looks interesting even if it is USB 2.0 output. The scanner specs are pretty nice, Digital ICE is very worthwhile ( I have a similar ICE on my CoolScan ) and the price is very reasonable. I am sure VueScan supports as well...

    • I've still got about thirty 100mb Zip Drives in a box somewhere. They'll be with the VHS tapes, Vinyl and Audio Cassettes - probably.

    • I have the loaned Epson 550 in my possession ๐Ÿ˜Ž what a boat-anchor! There will be time today to fire it up and have a look at what the native software will do on a few sample images I have here. There may still be the possibility of having two scanners available on this task, still working on that.

    • Update...

      * My wife's work laptop will have a licensed copy of VueScan installed in the next day or two. I'll play with that - and the settings - and see how it compares. I may break down and purchase a license for home use as well.

      * Latest version of Epson Scan seems to do okay. Minimal cleanup (since the 550 doesn't support the Digital ICE) on a couple more images I have here, just working thru what the workflow might be.

      * My BIL estimates 300 images. Less than a handful are larger than 'snapshot' size. We may not get them all done, but there's also some clippings from when he had his 15 minutes of fame, back in the 1960's. Three days; should be able to do it.

      * My last test is to attach the 550 to my laptop. It's not the fastest machine out there, but hope good enough to handle this scanning job - scheduled to happen in three weeks.

    • In addition to photographs, are other printed or hand written documents - hand written letters, drawings, programs guides, etc from our childhood, or from our relatives childhoods.

      I just found a letter my father wrote me in December 25, 1950 to explain why Santa was no longer going to be bringing me Christmas gifts - Santa had to save his time and effort for the younger children of the world - so my parents were going to take over this task for Christmas. My mother had saved this document all her life for me, apparently.

      Scanned very nicely and quickly on my V700 Epson scanner in VueScan. I created a special folder on my external hard drive and VueScan saves the file directly there. The original document paper is degrading with time, but the digital file should store more securely.

      I have been using VueScan for almost 15 years on many different computers. has provided a real service to scan users.

    • Another update:

      * My wife's employer did NOT have a VueScan license (grumble, grumble..), so I played around for a couple of hours with the demo version. Procurement is imminent.

      * I've got a small pile of unrelated photos here that I've been using to establish a workflow. I bounced across this two-part description of this author's workflow. Yes, it's a decade old, but it doesn't seem to be too terribly different than one might use today. I'm finding some of the technical detail toward the end of the first part to be rather useful from the 'why would you do that?' perspective.

      * We've got a family member that does wedding photography as a side gig. So, one might think that she'll have some tips and tricks to pass along when it comes to LR as well.

    • A brief epilogue to this story...

      As I suspected, several hours of reminiscing about the photos on day one. Since my brother-in-law is a dozen years older than my wife, there were plenty of things he knew that my wife didn't. Yet, there were stories of things told to my wife that my BIL didn't know about.

      About 300 images were scanned, I think. The tag-team process worked very well. Image resolution was adjusted as we went. I spot-checked as we went along, but real image manipulation on 14" laptop screens (when used to doing stuff like this on 27" dual monitors) just wasn't going to happen there.

      One of their uncles had also shot some old slides back in the early 1970's; I'd never seen them this small. I did scan a few of these. I had a single uncle (on mom's side of the family) that shot slide film back in the 60's and 70's. It took a bit of effort to figure out how to scan them, but trial and error worked.

      I think there's about a dozen images that will really be worth the restoration efforts - once I get a better understanding of Lightroom.

      In the next week or so, I'll post up a couple of them to share the results.

    • I share your aversion to image editing on 13 or 14 inch laptop screens. Maybe its our age, or something but a 27 or 31 in 4k or 5K monitor is just so much easier and more satisfying to work on.

    • I've not yet started the process, but even with next-to-nothing accomplished during the scan for cleanup, not too bad:

      Grandparent's house c. 1940's - Hammond Rd., Glen Cove, NY

      My wife's uncles c. 1914 - location unknown

      My wife's paternal grandmother c. 1915 - location unknown. The oval shape was original to the photo. The backdrop was remarkable (auto parts?)

      Unknown individual 1971 Florida. The grandparents were some of the original 'snowbirds' of that era, but they stayed with a son that lived there. Obviously, this one has yet to be cleaned up.

      I never met any of these in-laws of mine...but got a glimpse of their lives thru these images and the stories told by my wife and her brother.

    • These images seem small when I click on them - did you choose to upload only small file sizes here on Cake, and have larger ones for your own use? I think you would want bigger image sizes than I see here.

      I like the 2nd and 3rd image - with just a bit of curves to created a bit more contrast they might really snap. The few damaged areas look like they would be easy to restore too.

      Oval framing was common in the late 19th and early 20th century. I have some images in that format as well.