Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tech Tuesday ~ Slides, Photos & Images, Oh My!

For the past 50 years, my father has been our extended family’s photographer. Most of his early work was slides and my father amassed 85 slide carousels. At some point he switched to prints and amassed several envelopes of prints and negatives. About 10 years ago he switched over to a digital camera and had several jpegs on his hard drive but did not set up any method to backup or share the digital photographs (except the occasional email). As other members of our family got into photography (once they had children) we found that while we all had jpegs on our hard drives, many of us were not backing up, organizing and/or sharing our jpegs with other family members.

When my parents downsized their home a few years back, my mother asked my brothers and sisters what, if anything, any of us wanted. My sister Susan mentioned that she wanted the slides and my other siblings chimed in that they wanted them as well (I have 7 siblings). We all had fond childhood memories of “watching slides” against the living room wall (later on a projector screen) at family gatherings. More recently the grandchildren loved to see their parents as children – perhaps to mock our clothing and hairstyle choices! My father was not too keen on losing his slides and prints so we played around with the idea of scanning the slides and prints ourselves.  We quickly determined that the time and effort required to scan all the slides and prints would be daunting and let the matter drop.

Our Before Photo System - Projector and 2 of the 85 carousels

At the time I read some online posts about scanning tips and tricks and how others organized their photo collections.  I noticed that various companies provided scanning services and checked out a few of them. Knowing that my father would not be interested in having his slides shipped away (certainly not out of the country)I decided to check out some services closer to home.  While my parents were out of town on holiday, we looked up scanning services and found a local company.  We met with the owner of the Pixmonix and discussed how to proceed if we decided to scan all the slides and photographs to DVD.

After meeting with the technicians and having them scan a sample batch of slides, we hired Pixmonix to clean, scan and correct (ICE, cropping, rotating and color balance checks) our slides and photographs.
  •  Pixmonix scanned each image using both the TIFF and JPEG format. 
  •  The scan properties were slides at 2,000dpi and prints at 600dpi.
  •  We set up a naming system – slscan_00001 or imgscan_00001 depending on whether the scan was a slide or a print.  The scans were numbered consecutively. Suggestion – a naming system is similar to a record identification number (RIN) in that it is a number that identifies your source and can be easily found with an index. Determine where your images are from (your camera, slides, prints, albums, cell phones, other people’s cameras, online databases, etc.) and identify them accordingly. Don’t rename images or set up too many image types – this number is simply used to find your digital images – especially if you have made or will make copies for others.
  •  We made a conscious decision not to sort the slides and prints prior to scanning.  We determined it would involve too much effort that would then be duplicated once we uploaded the images to a photo organizing software program.  With over 13,000 scans this was clearly the right decision.
  •  We reviewed the scanned images online and were able to approve each batch (or ask for additional correction) before they were burned to DVD.
  •  We ordered archival quality binder coversets and slide storage pages as well as storage boxes for the prints. 
    •  Pixmonix filed the slides in 8 binders
    •  Pixmonix burned and filed the DVDs and printed contact sheets (thumbnail views of the slides and prints) in 1 binder
    •  We gave the prints to interested siblings and filed older family prints (my grandmother’s photos) in 2 boxes.
Our After Photo System - 9 Volume Keough Family Album
(More compact indeed than 85 carousels!)

Slides are in consecutive numerical order
sorted in archival quality protective sheets

Gold Quality DVDs of TIFFs & JPEGs and Contact Sheets

Contact Sheets (with thumbnail views showing
consecutive scanned image numbers

  • My sister and I burned the jpegs to DVD (a 4 volume set) and made a set for my parents as well as each of our siblings – this was a family Christmas present in 2008 and we now have plenty of backups spread around the country!

Our 4 Volume Keough Family Slides - Through the Years
(Notice the Bow on the DVD & Christmas Red Covers)

Next Tuesday - The Next Step


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