February 27, 2016

Digitizing Old Images

I'm finally started!
After a few attempts, I settled on a method to digitize our many old images, most of them from prints, and now the first album is done (about a dozen to go).
The Setup
It's really low tech. In my basement studio I'm using a table, 60w incandescent clamp light at a 45 degree angle, and a piece of 11x17 low glare picture framing glass I found in one of my old art frames.
I used Scotch Blue tape to border the edges of the glass, and made a small rectangle on the table to easily place photos in the same spot. In this image, a photo is laying on the tape spot. Using my Canon G15's live view, I fine tune the placement and gently lower the glass onto the photo. Then I make sure the camera is still (bumping the tripod causes vibrations so I wait 3-5 seconds) and snap the picture with the remote cable release.

Now the things are set up this way, I'll spend an hour or two a few evenings a week to work through our other albums.

Why not scan or some other way? I tried scanning on my flatbed and didn't like the images - contrast was extreme, among other things. This method allows me to adjust white balance in-camera, and by shooting RAW, I get large files that I can adjust in Lightroom. Many of our negatives are lost, so this is the best way I think I've found to digitizing from prints, besides expensive professional scanning.

How do they look?
On screen, just like the prints! The ones I'm doing now are from 1991-1993 and were shot with really inexpensive cameras (one was a 126, for those who remember!). Here's an image from summer of 1992 of my dad, with only a few exposure, contrast, color and clarity adjustments (no noise or other cleanup done yet):
And now to do about 10 more years' worth of albums, including our wedding and honeymoon in 1994. Looking forward to permanently preserving these priceless images!