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Photo digitizing project
Old 10-09-2012, 10:55 AM   #1
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Photo digitizing project

Mom and I have a plan to sit down with a few í00 old photos, digitize them, and then record as much info on each one as possible. I have the scanner, she has the photos and memory. The only SW I have now is Photoshop Elements 9. What I would like to do is scan, save, and then digitally write the info on the scanned image or as part of the image file. We have no intention to edit or alter the images, just record and document them. I donít have much photoshop experience but I didnít see a way to do that. It does allow me to write a few words across the image, but it looks cumbersome and is more of a graphic design function, not documentation or filenotes.

Anyone know of an application that has this feature set, or a way to approach this?
Also looking for suggestions on how to store the original photos. Some are old (early 1900ís) large and bulky.
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:05 AM   #2
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I don't know about any software that will do that, but good idea to ask about it. Surely some is available. In my scanning project I put as much info into the photos' titles as possible, and for some (especially those with numerous people) I wrote down what they were and scanned that sheet as well, or the back of the photo if the info was written there, using the same filename but with an added "a" for the photo and "b" for the explanation. Software such as you describe would be a better solution IMO.

Storing old photos properly, as for example old photos of historical value, is not easy. Since mine are now scanned in, I am not so concerned about preservation and store the originals in a plastic under-the-bed box that is big enough for all. I would guess that it is two feet by three feet by 6 or 8 inches high. It goes under my bed to make sure they aren't exposed to too much light through the translucent plastic box. It is easy to grab 'n' go during hurricane evacuations.
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:08 AM   #3
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If it were me, I think I'd scan the photos on my printer/copier/scanner at the highest resolution, and once they were saved in whatever format you like, bring them into Excel, PP, etc. and add whatever information you like. Or check online for free scrapbook/photo album applications/templates.
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:16 AM   #4
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Using proprietary software requires the viewer to have an operational copy of that software. Since some of your photos are being viewed a century later, it's reasonable to believe the scans and info might similarly be viewed a century from now. Rather than risk proprietary software becoming outdated and unusable in the future, I've chosen to store such photos and info in common/simple formats with the hope those formats will be readable long into the future.

So, for images I use JPG and for info I create a separate plain text file. The text file mentions the JPG's file name, then describes the photo in sufficient detail that even someone who never met the people would be able to understand.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:37 PM   #5
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For my DSLR photos I can add captions and other info in the file's metadata when I import them into Adobe Lightroom. I am not sure what type of file info is available for scanned images but there must be some metadata there that can be edited. Search around for a metadata editor and see if that works for you.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:55 PM   #6
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I have not used any of the software packages listed on this site; but, it does give good pointers (in my opinion) to some of the most likely free products to meet your needs: Best Free Digital Photo Organizer

This is one of the many projects that I hope to tack if I ever actually RE.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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I did a similar project but mine were from 1950's till 2004. All uptill 1980, I scanned myself using Epson Photoperfection scanner at 400dpi tiff files (Scanning resolution can be debated until death but my friend, who is a commercial artist, told me that I will not add anything above 400dpi, except the size of the resulting file). The rest, I sent to ScanCafe. I am not saying that I was impressed with their quality but the prints were not in great shape either. The best part of Scancafe is, you don't have to accept all of the pictures they scan. You accept only those you like.

Once I had all tiff files, I edited them using Photoshop. Actually Photoshop element is even better. It has a lot of actions pre-installed so it will make your job a lot more easy. But trust me, you are embarking on a BIG project. It took me about a year to get everything in order and now after 5 years, I am still working on some of the stuff.

Storage of these scanned pictures, I did following way.
- ORIGINALS - 3 copies of all scanned images on 3 different DVDs, made by 3 different companies (Sony, TDK and Taiyo-Yuden DVD+Rs)
- EDITED tiffs - Same as originals
- Working/Viewing copies and printing if required - Converted to jpeg using FastStone Image Converter - Saved on 2 discs and a hard drive. Picasa goes all the way for pictures organization on HDD.
- If you are comfortable, Amazon gives you unlimited storage in the cloud for a small fee. Only catch is, this is for the stuff you are not going to edit ever in your life, because it allows you only 10% of data download per month.
- My Originals went back to Ziplock bags. I doubt, I will ever touch them again.

Good Luck.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:49 PM   #8
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My approach is probably too simple. Once I have the images in jpeg format, I open the image in PPT, add whatever text I want, group the picture and image together and then "save as a picture" - still in jpeg format. You can use any font, font size or font color - presumably you'll want something small/discreet. As far as I can tell, there is no loss in resolution whatsoever.

I don't really like having text on my images, so I just name the pics including date and whatever info I want to keep with the image. FWIW...
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:43 PM   #9
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I think something like Tyro or Midpack mention is a good solution if you want to keep everything local. Another thought would be to upload copies to Flickr where you can show them to other relatives (or send a link). In Flickr you can add as much descriptive info as you would like. For a small collection a free Flickr account would suffice. If you want to keep a lot of hi resolution photos on flickr (I keep over 1000 and use it as a backup for the originals) a $20/yr professional account is worthwhile.
Another alternative would be to use Picassa (free from Google) to organize the photos and use Picassa's caption to add descriptive information about the images. That will be retained locally in Picassa and copies of the photos (with captions) can be uploaded to a free cloud drive for sharing. I'm not sure what the storage/resolution limits are for a free Picassa cloud drive are so can't tell you whether it would be sufficient to back up your originals.

In any event, use Elements to make any routine edits to the images to make sure they are of a quality you like. You should play around with Elements to see what features like levels and curves can do to improve your scanned images. With old scarred up images you can also use tools like the clone stamp to remove blemishes, etc.

Have fun.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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Metadata allows you to add keywords but not really too much free flowing text.

The photo library software may allow you to group photos into albums or rolls (or some other metaphor for a group of files). These can be organized by the time they were taken (which is usually the default when you import pics from cameras, as they read the time stamp) or by subject matter that you assign.

Then you can use keywords, which are widely supported on the various sharing sites and so on. For instance, if you assign keywords to your photos, there's a good chance when you upload them to Flickr or other sharing site, they will have keyword tags, which makes searching for them later easier.

I'm not familiar with Photoshop Elements but since Adobe invented the XMP format, they likely support various metadata fields. Though maybe it's not the case with scanned photos. The EXIF metadata automatically records the time when the picture was taken, the make and model of the camera, the exposure and other settings.

I believe scanner software will create some basic metadata, inserting the scanner or software name in the metadata fields.

Using keywords could make it easier to retrieve photos. Other thing is some software does face recognition and once you identify a face, it will tag other photos with the names of the person whose faces you identified.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:20 PM   #11
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I use Ashampoo Photo Commander 8 (free version) that allows you to do all kinds of editing of photos. There's an option when editing under "File Info" - "Edit JPG comment" that allows paragraphs of data for each photo if you want.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:21 PM   #12
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I use iPhoto on my mac, but I don't know if it works on a pc. iPhoto can catalog photos and scans with descriptions and later search by description, date, etc.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:27 PM   #13
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There are some very good suggestions so far, thanks. My text needs are not tags or a couple of words, they are more like "starting at the left, front row, that's crazy cousin Elmer", or "That photo was taken just before they hauled him off to prison". I haven't thought about a naming convention yet - another question, suggestions welcome.

The audience will be people with different levels of computer skills and resources, and they will get dvds.

So, one option is to scan every photo into a high res jpg, then save that image in another file that would combine image with text. That is a workable approach, as long as anyone can read the file without having to buy SW.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:44 PM   #14
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I start all the photo file names with the yyyymm of the photo, so, for example, a Thanksgiving photo from 1955 might be "195511_Family.jpg". Starting with year and month facilitates viewing the photos in chronological order since most viewer programs can sort on file name, and many do by default.

I favor one central text file to hold the file name and lengthy descriptions for all photos in the folder. Another option (more work) would be to create a separate file (such as in a word processor) with thumbnail of each photo and its text description; then save the file in both native and PDF forms. PDF is popular enough that it may still be viewable a century from now.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:54 PM   #15
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I have found that Picasa is the flexible tool I need for management of the photos.

For scanning I used the HP scanner software. I placed as many photos as possible on the scanner, and used 200 - 300 ppi. I did this as it took far too long to do 1 scan at a time. I cropped those tiff files in ps elements, using auto tools to improve the jpgs I saved. The jpgs were then cataloged with Picasa.

Your edits in Picasa are saved separately from your jpgs. They are so many export features in Picasa. You can upload an entire folder of your photos to your Google drive, make html pages, and so on.

This is just my work flow preference. You can achieve these results with other software.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
I haven't thought about a naming convention yet - another question, suggestions welcome.
My filenames all begin with year, then person in the photo, then event or location. I could have been more consistent, sometimes including full name and sometimes just initials.

Examples are,

1980 - CEC_bday
1982 - CEC_Denise_Dawn_SDzoo
1960 - Carole_Tokyo
1956 - SantosBrazilDrs_George_Mary_Frank_Bob
1985 - Mike_Lucy(bird)
2005 - MaryLastname_age95_bday
1976 - MaryLastname_pinkcoat_RedSquare
1973 - FrankLastname_ChineseDrs_Peking
1914 - Bonnie, Herbert, and Mary Lastname, Carmel, California

You can probably improve on this. It really helps in finding particular photos if the year is first.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:17 PM   #17
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Date may not be needed as photo management software will usually sort photos in different folders depending on how you group them (like July 2012 vacation photos).

Of course scanned photos do not have data metadata indicating when the pictures were taken, like digital camera photos would.

If you do distribute on DVDs, they may not need any kind of software nor will you need to have descriptive file names. That is if the DVD mastering software can make DVDs with slideshows that can be played on most DVD players (as opposed to DVD drives in computers).
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:27 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
I haven't thought about a naming convention yet - another question, suggestions welcome.

The audience will be people with different levels of computer skills and resources, and they will get dvds.
YYYY (Folder)
YYYYMMDD - Subfolder i.e. Thanksgiving (Dates if applicable)
YYYYMMDD - IMGxxxx

If you want to send the DVDs, you may want to consider backup pictures option in Picasa. It creates very good self-explanatory DVDs.

BTW, you mentioned about scanning at high resolution jpeg. If the pictures you are scanning are more than 100 years old, you seriously want to consider tiff format. jpeg is a lossy format and depending on the application you use for scanning, it will compress the resulting file. You never know if somebody else in your family want to do more work on these images down the line a generation or two, tiff will be very useful. If you do want to go jpeg route, consider VueScan. Its one of the best scanning application around.

Also take a look at FastStone applications, some are free, some are not but whatever they code is of very good quality.

Writing captions, I don't like them on pictures at all, so I added a border to the pictures and put a small caption on the bottom of the picture. It IS very small but for those who are interested will take a look.
Else
Take a look at Jalbum, its an application for creating web albums and there is a lot of flexibility in there.

Would love to know what route you finally decided.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:11 AM   #19
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Scanned over 1000 pictures - 1st project after retirement. Saved all as jpegs, comments into a text file. 1200dpi, naming convention :

YYYYMMDD <couple of word description>.

Backed up on several computers, external hard drives, and dvds. I was very happy with the results.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:44 AM   #20
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A lot of people are struggling with this issue and to my knowledge there isn't a "best" answer.

You should be able to do what you want in Elements, it does have an action (same as a "script" or "macro" in other software) to read several scanned photos and save them to separate files.

What I think is an excellent entry-level book on Elements is Scott Kelby's - The Photoshop Elements 10 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter): Matt Kloskowski,Scott Kelby: 9780321808240: Amazon.com: Books

I second the idea of saving in .tiff file format. .jpg is a lossy format and subsequent saves lose additional data. Not a good idea for long-term storage.

Elements will allow you to enter Metadata comments about the image in the Caption field and that should suffice.

For storing the originals the same as always: Clean, dry, dark, cool but not cold.

From what I've read, for very long term archival data preservation no one has yet improved on the technology of carving in stone.
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