snapshots

It’s something we all think about…sorting and digitizing our old family and vacation photos.  Every year they fade, get damaged a little more, and pile up.  I recently took on this project with great success and wanted to share some tips.  Some of these tools and products make the process much easier and affordable than in years past.

  1. I bought a portable scanner (Pentax DSmobile 600 Scanner).  There are others but I liked this one because it’s small and easy to use with my laptop. Note that if you’re using Windows 7 you’ll have to go to the Pentax support website and download the updated drivers and software first (use the Vista drivers).
  2. Gather up your pictures and sort them in a logical order- maybe by date or person.  You can do this in the image management software but it’s easier to get the order correct before scanning.
  3. Set up the scanner options (resolution, filetype, and file location options).  I chose .jpeg format, color, and 400 DPI.  You may have to experiment a bit to find what you like.  Remember, disk space is cheap so file size shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
  4. Scan your pictures into your computer from the scanner.  The Pentax makes this very easy- just insert an edge into the scanner and it’ll “grab” it.  Using the Mobile Scan software click on the green “Scan” button and within a few seconds you’ll have the scan file on the hard drive.
  5. After scanning all pictures, I used the free Google Picasa software to clean up and manage the scans.  Inside Picasa you can apply some filters, tag with captions, and even use the creepy but really cool face recognition features of the software.  I found the “I’m Feeling Lucky” function very effective in adjusting faded pictures and obvious defects.
  6. These scans are precious- Back up the files onto an external drive and onto a cloud based service in case disaster strikes.
  7. There are some options available in Picasa for sharing.  You can upload into a web album and share with friends and family, create a DVD movie slideshow, make a poster, or make a collage.  Experiment and have fun with it!  If you need more advanced capabilities, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 (under $80) has much of the functionality of Photoshop for way less.
  8. An online company called Blurb allows you to create physical books (hardcover or softcover) in an easy fashion for very reasonable prices (how about up to 120 pages for $20?).  You download their authoring software and can control many aspects of the photo layout and wording.  This would be a great gift to family or friends.

After completing this project you’ll feel f relieved that those precious memories are digitally stored and available for use in all sorts of new ways on your computer and the web.