Photos To Digital Format

Last May when my Mother passed away suddenly, we wanted to have something different to celebrate the good times we had together. I thought a slide show comprised of old photos of her and other family members on DVD would be a good idea. We checked with the funeral director, they did offer a service but I thought I could do better. They only offered to copy 15 photos along with one song. Who wants to hear the same song over and over all day at the viewing? I didn’t. Besides we wanted to have her favorite songs and gospel groups. A lot of the family members like the same music as Mom. I figured that I might as well make copies of the DVD for anyone who may want one.

How we “copied” our photos:

First we had to find them all. HINT: Start now by organizing all of your photos in groups. Photo boxes are relatively inexpensive at craft stores, or make your own out of old shoe boxes (keep those little white anti damp packs to protect your photos).

What you need:

  • Digital Camera (any that you have will work, does not need to be fancy)
  • Tripod of some sort
  • Some sort of background material (black poster board is best)
  • Good lighting
  • Old photos
  • Photo Editor (Picasa is free from Google)
  • Remote release

Find a place with good lighting and a room to work, a dining table by a window is a good place to start. You can do this anywhere, although window light is best, other light sources can be used just as well. A side lamp with the shade removed, or a clamp light that you can easily move. It’s best to use daylight balanced bulbs, you can find them at just about any hardware store. If buying fluorescent bulbs (greener, and you can use them in the family room afterword), look for something in the 5000K range, that is closest to sunlight. Set up your work area. Take the black poster board, or whatever you are using for the background, and fold it in half like a greeting card. You want it to stand up in the back and lie flat on the table in the front. You will probably want to prop it up with a book or something in the back. Position it or your light source at about a 45 degree angle so the light is coming from the side and a little from above.Place your photos you want to copy to one side of the background. This will help keep them separate from the ones you have taken already.

As you copy the photos, you will set the “copied” ones to the other side. That would be a good time to organize them into groups too. Set up your camera on the tripod. This can be any type of support you may have. A beanbag will work good for this too. Angle the camera so it points to the back of the background just above the crease. place your camera in a position so the camera is pointing directly towards the photo, remember the photo will be at a slight angle as it rests against the background. You will want to set the camera on the Best Quality setting it has. Set the white balance to the type of lighting you are using, either read your manual or set it to Auto.

Place your first photo so it is standing up against the background. Get down to the level of the camera and look for glare on the photo. This is probably the most crucial part for good results. If you can see glare, it will show up on the copy. Adjust any lighting as needed. Zoom in on the photo as desired, remember you can crop in the photo editor. Using the remote release or a steady hand, take a picture of the photo. Review the image to make sure it is good, check for focus, if it is crooked and glare. Set that photo aside and continue through your stack. You can sort them into groups if you want here to help organize them.

After copying them, download them into your computer. Use the photo editor program to adjust, crop and save them. Use a slide show program to create a slide show with music, e-mail them to friends and family. You should also archive them to CD or DVD at this time. Picasa can do all of this, and did I mention it is free?

This method can be used to copy just about anything, cook books, recipes or important documents. I have all my important documents, credit cards, Social Security Card and birth certificates on my computer. I recently copied my mother-in-law’s address book.

I hope you have found this article to be helpful.