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Photo Scanning: Digitize Photos at Home

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I like taking photos and making computer programs. Some of them are an invisibility filter, 2D to 3D, 3D gifs and photo to painting.

Analog Photography

Approximately 21 years ago people switched to digital photography. Most pictures taken before the year 2000 were analog. The images would be recorded on film and transferred to paper. A lot of the photographs would be placed in a drawer or put on display. They could be placed in a picture frame and hung on a wall or put on a cabinet.

You can convert computer photos to analog by printing them. Places like Walmart and Costco have photo centers. Usually they are very busy. Analog is better than digital in one way. You can use them to decorate your house and see them every day. Digital pictures are in a directory on your computer. They are rarely seen.

Algonquin Park campsite. Taken 10 years before I could buy a digital camera.

Algonquin Park campsite. Taken 10 years before I could buy a digital camera.

Digitizing Old Photos

If you don't digitize your old pictures then you may lose them. Most of my old analog VCR tapes stopped working and some of my favorite photographs faded away. Others were lost. Film and paper does not last. Digital images do not degrade over time and they are easy to find.

Once the image is on your phone or computer you can do more than look at it. As a computer file you can e-mail it, post it online or edit it. Use color filters to turn it into a painting or load it into a jigsaw puzzle game. It is even possible to add depth to images so they come out of your screen like a 3D movie.

At home you can digitize old photos by scanning them or taking a picture.

Can I Take a Picture of a Picture?

I took pictures of analog photos using my digital camera. Based on my results it works well some of the time. The color was a little off or there was a bright spot caused by a glare. To remove the glare I moved the camera. Instead of just taking one I took four or five so I could choose the best one.

Apps allow you to do photo scanning with your phone. The Google PhotoScan app was designed to remove glare. After taking the first photo it uses dots and arrows to show you where to move the camera. Once the 4 dots are checked the images are merged together. The photo scanner is easy to use and it works well most of the time. If your phone can take high quality pictures then it should give you good results.

Converting analog images to digital ones is not as good as starting with a digital photo. On average the results I got were okay. They were not great. I tried to make them look better by changing the contrast and brightness.

A glare may be added to the picture. Move or remove it by moving the camera.

A glare may be added to the picture. Move or remove it by moving the camera.

Photo to Art

Sometimes the colors look off. The picture of the photograph does not look right. You may be able to salvage the image by making it look like a hand made painting or drawing. A photo that looks a little off is just a bad photo. Reducing the realism a little more to make it look like art can give it the wow factor.

A computer program could draw the image using crayon or marker colors and group pixels together. Images from photos that look like they were made by hand can look amazing. That is why I started using color filters and paint effects. I recommend creating art from your digital pictures. It is fun and you can get some incredible results.

I could not get a good on-screen version of the image below. It was always too dull or the colors were off. So I used some color filters to make it look like hand made art. It was a bad image that I was going to delete. As a painting it looks impressive. My photo to painting program can be used to make the images look better.

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Redrew a bad picture with crayon and marker colors.

Redrew a bad picture with crayon and marker colors.

Things you can do with your saved images.

Saving an image to a directory on your computer is like putting it in a drawer. They are rarely seen again. Look at them, share them and use them.

2D to 3D

slideshow

sepia filter, retro

invisibility

animated GIF

black and white

see-through ghost

video effects

remove background

photo to painting

concentration memory game

switch the colors

edge drawing

puzzles

improve light & contrast

merge images

screen saver

share them

Restoring Faded Photos

Is your photo ruined? The color faded away from one of my favorite pictures. So I tried to save it by turning it into a black and white photo. Using a gray filter just created a faded black and white image. To increase the intensity I only used black. When just 1 color is selected my paint program uses the brightness or intensity of the original color to set the transparency.

I could not restore the colors but I could increase the intensity.

To make it a little brighter I used a Sepia filter. It adds a brown tint to images creating an old photo effect. Now a faded ruined photo from the late 1980s looks like a non faded picture from the 1890s. Grayscale and sepia filters are popular. They are often used on phone selfies.

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    Transparent background images focus on the subject and they are easy to edit. You can quickly add them to other pictures or turn them into an animation. See through photos can be merged with other images. Learn how to make and use transparent picture
Moose picture taken at Algonquin Provincial Park. Converted to digital 24 years later.

Moose picture taken at Algonquin Provincial Park. Converted to digital 24 years later.

Metadata

An image's metadata contains readable and searchable information. You can add a title, subject, comments, copyright information and more. It even lets you rate it by selecting the number of stars. After adding the data you can search for it. I could add tag: beach or title:Presquile to the search box. It makes it easier to find the image later.

Sorting the images by rating allows you to view the best ones first. If you don't add the details then information like the date, location and names of people in the picture may be lost. You can forget them and other people might want to know. I have a picture of a tropical beach but I don't remember when and where it was taken. It was either near Granada or Bimini.

On a Windows computer right click an image and select Properties, Details. Then click the detail you want to change under the value column and enter the description. If you can not set the metadata then add more information to the file name.

Going Digital

Most analog photos are small and the new digital image will probably not be quite as good as the original. It would be better to take it again with a digital camera. That is not possible. So I recommend taking pictures of your photographs and editing them in an image editor.

Analog photos capture a moment in time that you can't get back. Saving them to your computer is fast and easy. Try it yourself. The new pictures I made turned out pretty good. A few of them looked better than the original because I could edit the colors. The hardest part was keeping the camera lined up properly. Some of the images were cropped to fix the edges.

The Google PhotoScan app works well and it is easy to use but sometimes you can get better results without it. Scan and take pictures. Use both methods. You can do a lot with a digital photo. After uploading camera images to your computer or phone use them in slideshows, share them, play games with them and turn them into art.

Tropical beach. Taken before phones had cameras.

Tropical beach. Taken before phones had cameras.

© 2021 Michael H

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