Because I'm focused on Blurb bookmaking these days, my ruminations this month are a bit of a continuation from something I mentioned in last month's ruminations: digital photo archiving. And again, my thoughts are not quite in sync with the how-to methods you've read about from the experts.
Digital archiving as advised by the experts consists of scanning photos at 300 dpi and saving them as TIF files. An important pro of the TIF format is that it is not a 'lossy' format; in other words, no resampling of the pixels takes place if you should 'Save' the file over and over again. A TIF con is that the file size is considerably larger than that of the same photo scan saved in, say, the JPG format.
The experts' advice may be enough for you, as far as it goes. However, in the course of working on a book about my mother's childhood, I discovered that I was unable to use some photos as I wanted to. Why?
For an 8" x 10" book, the pixel dimensions for a full-bleed page image, such as the left side of the two-page spread above, are 2363 x 3000 pixels. I had previously scanned both of the snapshots above at 300 dpi, but a regular-sized snapshot scanned at 300 dpi is simply not adequate to enlarge that much.
Using small snapshots as full-bleed page images, as shown in the examples above, necessitated my finding the originals and rescanning them at considerably higher resolution. In most cases, 600-700 dpi was adequate, but in some cases I scanned as high as 1200 dpi in order to crop the photo as I wanted it, or to select some small detail to enlarge for closer study.
Fortunately, I do have access to most of my mom's old snapshots. There are many other photos in my digital collection, however, which I've scanned from photos which I no longer have access to. I hadn't foreseen that I would have need of higher-resolution images.
In the future, I plan to scan small photos and snapshots at a much higher resolution. Because saving them as TIF files would require an enormous amount of disk space, I'll save them as JPG files. When I open one of those files for use in a project, I'll make a copy to work on and then close the original file without using the Save command. That way, the pixels in the original file do not get resampled as they do when you Save. It's the resampling that causes a tiny loss of clarity every time you do it, unnoticeable at first but after Saving repeatedly, the degradation becomes noticeable. At least, that's my understanding from a number of articles I've read about digital images.
By the way, if you burn your photo files to a CD or DVD, a JPG file is not going to degrade any more than a TIF file. The only degradation would be that of the CD or DVD itself.
I find that every time I use a photo in a project, my needs are different--I may want to crop it differently, or change the color to sepia or some other tint, or maybe just desaturate the colors a bit, maybe erase the background... you just never know what your next idea might be. Consequently I always work on a copy anyway, rather than the original image.
My point, if I actually have one, is that you may want to consider what your purpose is in scanning old photographs, and how you might want to use the scans in the future. You may need to make some exceptions to the advice of the experts in order to serve your own needs better.
- I managed to get a post up for Bill West's Second Great Local Poem and Song Genealogy Challenge. I've been waiting all year for that one to come around, and almost missed it due to seemingly endless fussing over the finishing of the book I've been working on.
- I'm sure you're tired of hearing about it but at last, with six hours to spare before the deadline, I uploaded my first family-history-related book to Blurb.com and placed my order.
- There are still a few names remaining to be done on my Surnames page. This is a fine example of how I lose my momentum on a project if I take a break from it before it's completed. I'll finish them up eventually, but right now they're down some on my list of priorities. Sure would be nice if I could wrap that up before the end of the year, though!