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Digital Imaging: The Beginnings
From My Keyboard...
Officers and Staff
The other day I read David Pogue’s New York Times column on “Rescuing Old, Outdated Media.” He wrote about audiotapes, vinyl records, videotapes and movies. This—and an email from Bill Chachkes—prompts me to write this note about my experience with old pictures.
I had recently been given a box of pictures of my wife’s family. There were over four hundred of them, ranging from twenty to seventy years old, and I wanted to make them available to family members around the world.
The tools I used were my G4 iMac with OS 10.3.7, an Epson Perfection 1250 Photo scanner, iPhoto 4.0.3 software, PhotoShop Elements 3.0 software; and my .mac subscription. The procedure was easy:
1. I scanned each photo to a file in a folder.
My scanning software prompts me to choose a location and format for the scanned photo. To keep file sizes down, I chose JPEG. The scanner and its software lets me scan several photos at a time, providing a separate file for each in the folder. I planned to publish them on-line through .mac, which would permit me to publish only 48 photos at a time, so that was the number I scanned per session.
2. I imported all 48 JPEG photos into iPhoto.
3. I double-clicked on a photo to open it in PhotoShop Elements.
These showed up in a separate album called “Last Roll.” Reviewing them quickly, I assured myself that the scans are all reasonably good. In iPhoto Preferences, I made sure that when I double-clicked on a photo, it opened in an application of my choice, in this case, Photoshop Elements. (My old copy of PhotoShop works only in OS 9, so I was happy I had taken advantage of a recent Amazon sale that offered PhotoShop Elements for $50 after rebates)
My next step was to see if it needed cropping. Many of the pictures had a white border, which I cropped out. Some had moved slightly when I closed the lid on the scanner and were at a slight angle. Using the Image>Rotate menu, I could rotate the picture (by as little as 1/4 of a degree, up to a full 180 degrees) until they looked straight. The next improvement was with the Enhance>Auto Smart Fix menu. This brought poorly-exposed and faded pictures back to life. Sometimes the flash used had not adequately covered a person’s face; here the Enhance>Adjust Lighting controls could be used. (See examples below. The top photo is the scanned version, slightly tilted and fading; the lower photo was corrected using PhotoShop Elements.)
4. I provided titles, dates and comments for each picture. After all 48 photos were adjusted to my satisfaction came the hard part: I did not know the names of all the people in the photos. (Many of them had been photographed years, even decades, before I had met my wife.) Some photos —a very few—had dates or other information written on the back, or automatically printed on the picture’s border. This helped. When I knew the people in the picture, I could add this information to the title or comments.
5. I sent the photos to HomePage for distribution.
When I had all 48 pictures ready, I highlighted them in the album and clicked on z for my .mac account. I then chose frames for the pictures, a background color and gave the file a title and a brief comment. Clicking on Publish, I was given a web address where the photos could be viewed by anyone.
6. I notified all who were to get the photos..
I sent an e-mail to interested family members who have Internet access, and gave them the web URL. All they have to do is click on the web address to see the pictures, either individually or as a slide show. And, since most of them use Windows machines, I asked my Windows expert (my 13-year-old grandson) to
send them information on how to download the entire set, if they wanted to. With each batch, I asked them to identify people in the pictures, and got some good help from a few family members.
7. I scheduled more photos to publish.
Each group of 48 photos takes up to an hour to scan, depending on the size of the pictures. I could scan four 2” x 2” photos at one time, but only two 3” x 5” pictures. Correction and identification takes anywhere from two to three hours. Publishing them takes about a minute. It will take nine albums to publish all of the photos in the box. At the time I write this, I still have two more albums to publish, and will do so when I find a couple of hours to spare. Eventually, I will run out of storage space on my iDisk, which holds a maximum of 125 MB. At that time, I will have to discard the published photos or buy more storage space. (Which do you think Apple prefers?).
8. I accomodated the people who are not on the Internet.
The last thing was to get these pictures to interested family members who don’t have a computer. Clicking on the “Print” button in iPhoto brings up a panel offering various layouts for the printed page. Printing several copies of 400 pictures takes a lot of time and paper, not to mention overseas postage, but will make the recipients happy. For those who do have Internet access, but have neglected to download my photos, I may have to burn CDs or DVDs of the entire set for them—although I won’t tell them that in advance.
Copyright © 2009
Metropolitan New York Macintosh Alliance