Going Digital With Old Photographs
I heard you want to become a photo preservation expert, or maybe just preservation savvy. Great! This and future posts will show you a few things you will want to know.
The basic goals of preserving older photographs are:
· Goal I: Create beautiful original or restored digital images.
· Goal II: Preserve original images and keepsakes in the best way possible.
Why Go Digital?
Digital images are easy to share, move and store in multiple places. Images that are shared are enjoyed! Digital images can be saved on different computers, hard drives, clouds, and servers.
CDs and DVDs
You didn’t mention storage on CDs or DVDs, you may be thinking. You are right. As I write this post, CDs and DVDs are going the way of 8-tracks, laser discs, videos and VCRs. Computers are being made without the large disc drives. Why? CDs and DVDs are more and more limited in the amount of space they hold. They also get damaged and broken easily. Even if you are storing them properly, the discs are deteriorating and will eventually be unusable. The official term is "disc rot". I am personally working right now to move all my images saved on disc to various hard drives and cloud management systems. I recommend you do the same.
Digital Copies in Many Places
Whether you want privacy or sharing and enjoying with as many people as possible, digital images stored in many different places are less likely to be lost. Paper and other materials will eventually deteriorate, so creating a digital image provides a way for potentially greater longevity. It is an important part of the preservation of the photograph and of history. Keep digital copies of the same image in different places. That way you always have a back-up somewhere.
How To Go Digital
There are many different ways to get your photographs into digital format. How you do it will get you different results. Some methods are better than others for specific situations. If you have lots of loose photographs you want to make digital, investing in a quality scanner is a really good idea. If you have an image that is behind glass and you don’t want to or are unable to remove the image from the glass, taking a picture with your digital camera may be the best way to get what you need. (Side note* Be careful with the flash. More information on how to take these kinds of pictures in future posts.) If you have an image that needs delicate handling, taking a photograph of it may also be the best method to preserving the original image.
Photocopies Are Like Fingernails On A Chalkboard
The quality of the scanner is important. That is partly why making photocopies is not recommended for pictures. Photocopy scanners are not set up for fine detail. If you choose to make photocopies, you lose detail and resolution (clarity of the image). Not to mention you end up with another deteriorating paper, the printed photocopy is usually on low-quality high-acid-content paper and the ink colors don’t match the original image. If you have a photocopier handy, I DO recommend photocopying the backs of old pictures that have been written on.
If you do have a scanner, scan the backs of the photographs after scanning the front. The handwriting and the information written on the backs of these pictures are just as important a part of the image preservation process.
Feeling overwhelmed and thinking you may not want to do this yourself? See the next post on what to look for in a professional conservator.
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