your family photographs
A few comments regarding the digitising of your family photos
for future generations.
Firstly, many high powered committees around the world are
currently trying hard to get this right.
I remember my disappointment when my 8 track tape player and
my Betamax home VCR were declared obsolete. Suddenly, my recorded
music and videos were potentially useless, as once the players
broke down, they would not be replaceable and the tapes were
only playable using these particular playing systems.
This will happen with computers and especially with computer
If you save your images in a special proprietary format that
requires a particular program to view them, you are in great
danger of having them trapped in years to come when that program
falls out of favour and is passed by in terms of operating
Recommended file formats for long term storage
If you do use such a program because of the features that
it offers, it is wise to keep a separate set of the images
in a Common format such as TIFF or JPG.
Every imaging program I am aware of will open these formats
and thus they should be accessible well into the future.
If storage space is not a problem, TIFF files retain the optimum
amount of information, and can be opened and saved again as
often as desired without loss of image detail information.
JPG images "throw away" a little information each
time they are re-saved, so this is best regarded as a storage
format for images that are not intended to receive a lot of
further work, requiring them to be re-saved over and over.
Personally, I can not detect any difference in quality between
a TIFF file and a "highest quality" JPG file, even
after opening and saving the image two or three times. I estimate
the image detail loss on resaving "high quality"JPG
images at only a few per cent each time, but it does add up
if you do it often.
It is best to carry out your retouching and manipulation on
a TIFF file and then save the final image as a "highest
quality" JPG if you need compact storage.
Losing all your files
A computer hard drive has a maximum life of about 5 years,
and when it dies everything on it goes with it.
It is possible for the information to be retrieved but this
can be a very expensive process.
Copying your files out onto a CD or DVD is essential to save
the information for the long term.
But no one I know gets into the habit of making regular back
up copies until they have experienced at least two disasters
Your best insurance for family photographs, of course, is
the actual original photographs.
After they have been copied, they should be stored in a safe,
cool, dry place in a protective folder or container. Many
options are available for this purpose, from acid free photo
albums to low cost practical solutions from office suppliers
such as Officeworks, who have polypropylene albums and binder
wallets that will provide neat and practical storage for only
a few dollars.
A copy of any written descriptive information should be stored
with the photos to ensure the survival of the connected information.
In terms of where to store your original photographs, think
of them as liking the same conditions as you.
A roof space or garage is the last place you would be comfortable
One good spot is in a drawer under clothes that aren't used
often. This is a simple way to keep the temperature and humidity
stable and protect against physical damage.
your organisations' photographs - Why do we need
to copy our photographic records when we have the original
heritage of your organisation is a unique, irreplaceable record
and often, there is only one copy of a particular photo or
certificate in existence.
Original photographs can easily be damaged in handling. Loaning
the original photographs to interested people inside or outside
your organisation can result in the loss of the photographs
images, they can be easily recopied to disc, reproduced, transmitted
or printed out via your computer for articles, press releases
or reports. In addition, modern "mini labs" can
produce optimum quality prints from the digital images on
the disc at everyday prices.
many old family photographs, adequate documentation is often
lacking with informal collections, making the usefulness of
the images limited in future years. We can embed information
into the actual image file that will travel with the image
permanently, in addition to providing index sheets with both
images and information, permitting easy searches for specific
images and situations in large collections.
if your photographs are copies, the copy materials that the
images are made on may be a disaster in terms of longevity,
as many copy systems were made for speed and cheapness, not
CDs and DVDs may be made obsolete before long, in terms of
collection permanence, the information on them can be easily
upgraded to the next “wonder system”, whatever
that may be, without loss of quality.
kind of photos and memorabilia can you copy?
and white, sepia and colour photos and slides, negatives on
film or glass, newspaper clippings and other printed material,
certificates and general memorabilia that can all help tell
the story of your organisation’s history.
photographs and memorabilia have been made easily accessible,
there is a much greater tendency to utilise the images.
our photographic collection presented?
is presented in a way that facilitates access for you and
others. The images are presented in folders on the CD or DVD
in two sizes, one size suitable for high quality prints and
another for email or on-screen use.
image information can be set to accompany the photograph in
several ways. It can be embedded into the image file as “Metadata”
and can be “searched” for key words by image management
programs such as Fotostation.
is also supplied as a Word “doc” file or as an
Excel spreadsheet on the disc. Proof sheets of the images
are included, and can be printed out for easy reference on
your office printer.
matter of policy, we make at least three copies of the CD
or DVD of the collection and we recommend that the copies
be kept in separate locations to avoid complete loss in the
event of a catastrophe.
size photographs can you copy?
work with any size picture or memorabilia from thumbnail size
to “door” size.
formats/media can you provide our photos on?
supply the finished work in the following forms:
CD or DVD, for use in your own computers as both a high
quality image for making prints and also a small image,
suitable for viewing on screen in a Power Point presentation
or including in an email.
made with archival standard materials, with a display life
of over 100 years.
files that can be read using free software from Adobe.
of our important photos are badly damaged or faded, can they
team have been personally copying and restoring photographs
for 26 years, so we can repair any amount of damage. We provide
no-obligation individual quotes for this specialised work.
Note that, whilst we can repair any amount of damage, sadly,
we can not fix an out of focus image.
that we want to have copied are stuck fast in an album. What
should we do?
the whole pages or the entire album. A "Post-it"
note stuck over the required photos you would like us to copy
will help identify the correct photos.
convenient to bring the photographs to you - what can you
do about this?
around Sydney, we can collect a portable collection, or bring
our copy equipment to your premises and copy the images there.
Sometimes it is more practical to copy a large collection
on site, as we did with the Daintree collection of glass photographic
plates for the Queensland Historical Society, flying up to
Brisbane from Sydney.
send framed photos to you?
we strongly recommend that any with cover glass be delivered
by direct courier to avoid the glass being damaged in transit.
Many frames can be easily dismantled, so the photo can be
you look after our photos?
worked with international conservation organisations, museums
and government departments to document and duplicate photographs
of historical and cultural significance, so we are well practised
in taking care of precious photographs.
to creating new copies of the photographs, we can advise on
ongoing storage of the original photographs to minimise future
contact can I expect with you?
visit your offices and discuss your project personally. We
can go over any points that need clarification, show you samples
and talk through any issues before we begin.
are sending the work in by post or courier, we will phone
or email you to confirm receipt of your work and discuss any
questions or issues at that time.
size and resolution for sending by email
Some confusion exists about the requirements for emailing
scanned images for printing and for viewing on-screen.
The basic requirements are very different for these two uses.
Emailing pictures for viewing on screen
Your monitor is set to display a certain number of pixels,
for example, 1024 x 768. So, the optimum image is about 750
pixels high to part fill this screen.
Whilst you can use a bigger image, the extra information is
not useful and simply adds to the file size, making sending
it by email a much longer process.
To get the best result, start with a bigger photo and crop
off any unwanted background.
Now save this under a different name. If you just save it
over the top of the original image you will lose the original
full size image that you may want later for making prints.
Then a simple way to create the size you need is to resize
the image to 8 inches high at a resolution of 75 dpi.
This will give an on-screen image of 600 pixels, (8x75), three
quarters the height of the screen size mentioned above or
a full screen height on a screen set to a standard 800 x 600
Whilst monitors don't actually work in DPI, it is a convenient
way to calculate the size requirements.
Save the picture as a JPG file at "quality level"
7 to get the optimum reduced size file.
This compresses the file by a clever mathematical trick that
reduces the information content slightly and the file size
Programs like Goggles Picasa 2" take care of many of
these calculations for you, keeping the original image safe
and making a new screen sized version to send.
Emailing pictures suitable for making prints
With regards to making prints, a lot more information is required
than for viewing on screen.
The human eye can see fine detail down to about 1/100th of
an inch when it is held close to the face, like a hand held
photograph would be.
However, printers aren't perfect, whether they pass the image
through inkjets or laser beams, and to compensate for their
inaccuracies, more information than this is needed to give
the best result.
300 dpi provides optimum detail where fine detail is required,
but softer scenes and soft flattering portraits can be printed
at 150 dpi.
Save the picture as a JPG file at "medium" quality
level 7 to get the optimum size file, as mentioned above.
Recently, the main email service providers have greatly increased
the size allowed for email attachments, so check with yours
to see what size you can send.
Scanning existing photos to make copy prints
It is best to scan the photos to produce a 300 dpi resolution
scan at the actual size you want the finished picture to be,
to optimise whatever detail exists in the original.
There is a maximum scan size your scanner works at and using
it at bigger magnifications means that the scanner program
“interpolates” the image to make it bigger, which
simply means stretching it bigger without adding any more
If you up-size the image after you scan it, you will do the
You can work out the maximum optimum enlargement you can obtain
by dividing the resolution you need for your print by the
maximum optical resolution of the scanner. For example, a
600 x 600 dpi scanner will enable a 2"x2" original
to be enlarged to 4" x4" for a 300dpi scan.
(600/300 = 2 times enlargement on each dimension)
If you are confused by all this calculation and you just want
to enlarge your small original as much as possible, set your
scanner on the maximum optical resolution
mentioned in the instruction book, such as "600 dpi"
and scan at that.
For after-scan enlarging, professional imaging programs like
Photoshop carry out the most sophisticated calculations to
enlarge the image, but even they can’t create more detail,
so a good information rich original scan is the best starting
If you have a crease in your original to be scanned, it will
catch the light from the passing scanner head and produce
an unwanted highlight and a shadow on the scanned image as
it is made.
If you turn the original around on the scanner bed so that
the crease runs parallel to the long side of the scanner,
this will minimise the effect.
The scan can be rotated back to normal later, in a suitable
image processing program, such as Photoshop.
Of course, if you have several creases going in different
directions, select the biggest one that goes through the subjects
We have a special lighting setup and filters that can neutralise
multiple reflections, so we can help if the reflections are