Preserving Your Photos, Slides, Negatives


    Photographs, slides, & negatives all begin to deteriorate over time. It is important to think about the process of preserving your visual heritage for your posterity.

    There are several basic steps to consider in preserving media.
    #1) Conversion: "digitalization" is getting the physical media into a digital format
    #2) Editing: the ability to improve the quality of the original image
    #3) Managing: strategies to store all the files in an organized way, and to ensure that the files are securely backed up regularly
    #4) Sharing: digital photos are meant to be shared with immediate & extended family. What better way to tell an individual's story than by combining stories with photos

    If you do not have a scanner, our library has a variety of scanners to help you digitize your photos, slides, and negatives. Please call ahead to make reservations for their use.

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    Digitize Your Photos, Slides, Negatives

    Information on Various Scanner Types & Scanning Tips

    Getting your photos into a digital format is not hard, though it may take some time to do so. Our library can help you get started.

    Here is a list of the scanners that we currently have at our library.

    1) Three rapid photo scanners for all different size photos
    2) Three flatbed scanners that can scan your scrapbooks, and other larger documents. One of the flatbeds will scan slides and negative at very high resolutions.
    3) Three slide scanners (coming).

    Editing Digital Photos

    Editing Your Digital Photos

    We all have some photos that can use some "tweaking" to bring out better detail. Learn how to do some basic photo editing using, a free online photo editor that has many Photoshop type tools. (You may need to install Adobe Flash to use this editor). I have a photo tutorial using 4 old photographs that we will use as samples to edit. You can follow along with the tutorial, or even better, come to our hands on photo editing classes here at the library. We will cover tools such as the Free Transform, Clone, Healing Brush, Cropping, Color Balance, Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Free Distort and both the "Burn" and "Dodge" brushes.

    There are a FEW basic photo editing tools that you can learn to use to manage 95% of your pictures. It's amazing how a really poor picture can be improved with a little skills practice and a basic photo editing toolbox to help you.

    Photo Editors
    There are many different photo editors available to correct color, take out scratches & dust and such from old photographs, that go from expensive to free and in between.  Probably the most well-known is Photoshop. There is a slightly less extensive app called Adobe Photoshop Elements. I personally have really like an called Affinity Photo by Serif. It has an extensive collection of editing tools. Come by the library and we can show you the tools.

    Let's Get Started
    #1) Download the 4 tutorial photos HERE. Save them into your desired folder.
    #2) Open up the photo editing application by clicking HERE.
    #3) Open up the tutorial by clicking HERE. The tutorial focuses on two of the photos. Use the other two photos you downloaded to practice those same skills on.

    Always do your editing on a duplicate copy
    Saving photos to JPEG formats

    Other Tutorials:
    Basics of Using Pixlr
    Pixlr Training Video (YouTube)

    Click on Image For Before & After
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    Manage Your Digital Photos

    Organizing and Safely Backing Up Your Media Files

    Have you ever lost your files? I can tell you from experience that it is a gut sickening experience. All it takes is a sudden hard drive failure to lose everything, even with a new computer. I had a top of the line HP business desktop that suffered a hard drive failure at only 1 month of age. Luckily I had already learned to create backups.

    Do NOT minimize the importance of organizing your digital files, nor of keeping multiple safely stored backups. You would not want to instantly lose all those files after spending hundreds (or more) hours collecting all those family history files. (Trust me on this!)

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    Share Your Digital Files

    Sharing Your Media Files With Others

    In the "old" days, people kept their photos, documents, and stories in their 8.5"X14" fancy thick "genealogy binders". They sat on shelves, hardly ever viewed, especially by anyone outside of the family. Their PAF files stayed on their computers as they created their pedigree and family group sheets. The days of "THEIR" are over. With cloud drives, Family Tree Gallery, and other means, we now have the ability to collaborate with cousins we may have never met before. We have the ability to easily share our photos, documents, and stories with others and share our heritage with our cousins.

    I challenge you to begin this sharing process! There is a whole new world out there! You will find it a great blessing to share so many different things with others.

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I could have thrown this dark photo out, but there is a great story about this photo. While waiting for a missionary Visa to go to Mexico, I had about 6 weeks in San Antonio. We lived in this small apartment that was…well…an interesting experience. If you look at the wallpaper in the left side of the photo, there were cockroach colonies living behind the wallpaper. We could hear them munching on the wallpaper paste behind the wallpaper. Now…isn't that a great memory to keep alive? Okay…I thought it was a cute story.
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How to Download the Photos Files

The 4 tutorial photos as in a "Zip" file.
When you click on the "Download" button below, the file will be downloaded to your "Downloads" folder on your PC
Typically you can just right click on the downloaded file and "Extract" the file.
A new folder called "Pix Archive" will be created.
In that folder are 4 photo files that will be used for the tutorial.

Over time, as you open, edit, and save a photo that is saved in a .jpeg or .jpg format, you will tend to lose data with each "save". Try to do all your editing of that photo in one session, then save it, and do not change it. The quality should be fine. If you need to do edits over several sessions, save the file in a TIFF format, until you have completed ALL your edits. If you are really into photography, most pros will have you save your files in a .tiff format, which will not lose data with each save.

NEVER do the editing on an original file. Always FIRST make a copy and then do your editing on the copy. You will look back at your edits at times and think, "I know how to make this photo look better". If you no longer have your original photo, you are editing am already poor quality photo.