The Scanning Process

Scanning and Enhancing

The scanning of photographs is a simple process and involves laying the picture upside down on a glass platen, much the same as on a photocopier, while in a matter of fifteen seconds or so, the photograph is scanned.  The picture may then be cropped or resized or improved using software and then saved as a digital image.  The scanner could as easily copy from slides and from film strip and also convert negatives to positive. Where images were already digital, they could just be downloaded directly from a camera by a connecting wire or saved to the PC if sent as attachments to e-mails. Most of the modern pictures taken to replicate old photographs were taken with a digital camera and were therefore much quicker to save to the computer file.  All photographs, whether scanned or digital, were then checked for quality and cropped (but only the modern ones) and enhanced if necessary.  

When appealing for photographs we reassured people that they shouldn’t worry if a picture was badly damaged or faded. The computer software would deal with those problems and bring the images up as good as new.  In the event very few were so badly scarred or faded but many had marks on them from dust, hairs, scratches, blemishes, and even mould or ink. All these could be dibbed out using a clone facility that enabled a patch from an adjacent clean part of the photograph to be copied over the blemish.

In most cases the simple use of the automatic enhancement facility would provide a much better balance of contrast and brightness which would bring to life faded pictures or would solidify feint, vague and overexposed images. Individual tools also enabled improvement of the colour balance and provided a remedy for many other faults. Even the oldest, faded, speckled, cracked, torn, sepia-tinted Victorian photographs could be sharpened and hardened into black and white images that looked as if they might have been taken but a week before.  Some of the very worst images necessitated magnifying the image on the screen and crawling from left to right and back again in successive strips from top to bottom removing blemishes, spots, and cracks, a process which might take over an hour. 

The following examples show what can be achieved with a badly marked picture. The first is from a holiday and was used in the application to demonstrate our competence to do a good job. It shows how even a chemically burned and faded slide can be made pristine.  The second example is of the great grandparents of one of the team. The third is from the Archive.