How to Organize your Photos to get them Ready for Scanning

Pile of Pictures

Sorting through old pictures can be daunting

A lot of us have boxes and albums of old photos and documents. Often these photos are passed on from generation to generation to generation. So what do we do with them all? The task of organizing them can seem daunting.

Scanning the photos to digital format is the best option for long term storage. There are several reason for this.

  • First, once photos are scanned it is very easy to share with other family members. They can be shared via facebook or emailed.  Copies of your final DVD or flash drive can be made for family members.
  • Second, a copy can be made and stored in a safe place in case a disaster such as a fire or flood.
  • Third, imagine a box of photos turned into a clean DVD or flash drive. Think about the space you will save!
  • Fourth, you won’t give your kids or loved ones the burden of yet another generation feeling the guilt of not knowing what to do with boxes of old photos.

    So how do we start?

    Find a spot that will be undisturbed for a long time.  If it is the kitchen table, make sure it’s not the week before Easter!

    • Gather your photos.  This may sound easy, but there are photos everywhere! They can be found in photo albums, on the refrigerator, in picture frames, in boxes and in your wallet
    • Gather your supplies.  You will need post it notes, pen, a shoe box or box for your final scanning box, index cards, tape and dental floss.
      Supplies to sort photos

      Gather your supplies to start sorting


    • Take all photos out of photo albums.  This is where the dental floss comes in. Dental floss is great for releasing stubborn photos from the sticky back.  Simply slide the floss between the photo and the page and gently tug.  Do not try to release the old paper scrapbook pages (usually the black ones) that are glued on.  They will have to be scanned as one sheet and the photos divided up after.  Finally, take out photos from picture frames.
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      Dental floss is great for trying to remove stuck on photos.

       

    • Decide how you are going to organize.  By event, date, family or person?  Or no rhyme or reason?  If organizing by date, I recommend sorting by decade first.  If you want to be more specific later, you can.  Place post it notes with decades or your sorting method on the table and start sorting.

      Sort photos by decade

      Sort photos by decade. You can also sort by event or person.

    • Now start sorting.
    • And sort
    • And sort
      sorting photos

      Sorting doesn’t have to be a chore. Put on some music, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the process.

      Sorting tips.  

      • Don’t be afraid to throw out bad photos.  If there are some photos that are blurry or are boring, toss them.  If there are photos that are three photos of the same thing, keep the best one.  For some reason, we find it difficult to throw away photos, even if they are bad.
      • If it is overwhelming, just do a bit at a time.  It took decades to take all these photos, it will take a while to sort through them.
      • Do not use post it notes directly on your photos.  Sometimes a sticky residual will stick to the photo.
      • If you have really small pictures, such as school pictures, it is best to attach it with tape to an index card.  It may get lost or out of order otherwise.Small Picture to be scanned
  • Once you sort your photos by decade or event, this is a great time to use an index card with a description.  You can scan the index card and just treat it as another photo.  Mark the card, for example, “1940’s Mary & Joe Smith” or “1950’s”  (We will talk in the next blog about how to have more detailed information for each picture At this point it is best to make a general label)  Be specific with names.  For example, don’t label something “Dad”.  The next generation may not know who’s Dad it is!  Use “Joseph Smith”.

 

Use index cards to divide up subjects or dates

Use index cards to separate subjects or dates

    •  Once you have your photos sorted, put your photos in a photo storage box.  Photos to be scanned first, go in the front.  Whether they are landscape or picture orientation, doesn’t matter.
      Photos organized

      Photos organized ready to scan

       

    • Congratulations, you have completed the massive step of organizing your photos to prepare for scanning.    Now comes the scanning.  You can either scan these yourself or you can have a scanning service do it for you.   Please see our future blogs on  “Tips for picking a photo scanning company” & “My photos are scanned, now what?”

Take 5 Productions scans boxes of old photos and documents.  We can be reached at Take 5 Productions- Onalaska WI

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Digital or DVD?

Frequently I have been asked about the difference between having home movies converted to DVD vs Digital files. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
DVDs
Good:
Finalized and can’t be erased
Clearly marked in a case so they won’t be easily lost
Easy for less computer sauve consumers to use
Quality on a DVD is slightly better than digital
DVD can be used on both a DVD player and a computer that has a DVD slot.
Bad:
Harder to share and copy than digital
Less computers have DVD slots now

DIGITAL FILES (usually MP4 files)
Good:
Easy to share from one computer to another
Can be stored in the cloud. (But be careful about “free” storage offers..usually it only covers about one hour of video)
Can be played on some smart TVs
Usually younger people are more in tuned to digital files.
Bad:
Quality isn’t as good as a DVD
Flash drives can easily be erased. I always worry when I hand someone a flash drive that their kid will need one for school, find it and erase everything on it!

Although the majority of Take 5 customers still prefer to receive their photos and videos on a DVD, (85%)  I am noticing an increasing number of people who are requesting Digital files in lieu of a DVD.  Not sure what to do? We can do both! Get the best of both worlds. And if you have DVDs I have done for you previously, I can convert those too.
Linda O’Connell is the owner of Take 5 Productions in Onalaska, WI. She specializes in transferring all types of old home movies, pictures and slides to both DVD and Digital. Take5productions.net

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DVDJPEG

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10 Tips for Choosing a Slide Scanner Service

Slides Carrosuel

It is hard to believe that slides were all the rage in the 1970’s.  Families would take a picture, send it in for developing and weeks later were sent back slides.  The family gathered around,  while usually Dad, wrestled with the screen, set up the slide projector and began the “slideshow.”  Now instead of boxes of slides, burnt out bulbs and wobbly screens, families can insert a DVD and hit play.  Life doesn’t get much better.  However, the process of getting your slides scanned can be daunting. It is important that when choosing a company to scan those precious memories,  families keep these 10 tips in mind.

  1.  Does the company you chose clean your slides before they scan them?  Take 5 Productions cleans all slides with a film safe cleaner and a lint free cloth.  Some companies use “anti dust” software also known as Digital ICE (Image Correction Enhancement) when transferring. What that does in essence is blur the photo so the dust doesn’t show up. So since it is blurred you can get a somewhat distorted photo.SlidesCleaning
  2. Will they make sure your pictures are not backwards or upside down?  Slides can easily be mixed up and reversed.  Take 5 makes sure all your slides are rotated the correct way.  There is no need to fix them later.
    Halloweenb

    Which way is the correct way?

    Halloween

  3. What is the DPI/resolution they are using?  Take 5 scans slides at 4800 dpi.  This allows you to print them out, if you wish, up to a 16×20″poster!
  4. Do they offer any type of retouching service?  We retouch your slides for free! You can see below the difference in a simply retouch used on Photoshop.  The retouch is included in the price.  (Please don’t confuse this with photo restoration.  If a photo is torn, really faded we can restore it but it is an extra charge.)

    Before Photo Retouch                        After- Removes the pink tint

  5. What type of label do they use?  Are they even going to ask you what you would like for a label/title?  We provide a picture CD with a nice imprinted label on it.  You can share your images with family on Facebook or email.  We can also make extra copies of the picture CD for you to share with your family.

    DVDJPEG

    All orders include an imprinted label of your choice and a case.

  6. What extras are available?  Take 5 Productions can also offer a video slideshow made from your slides. This turns your slides into a movie that includes a title and background music.  You can play this on a DVD player or a computer with a DVD slot.  For the real tech people, we can make an MP4 file for you to use.
  7. What size slides will they transfer and is there a minimum?  We will take any size order. Whether it’s one slide or 1,000 slides!  We transfer any size slide, whether it’s 110 slides or 35 mm slides.
    Slides Sizes B

    We can transfer any type of slide.

     

  8. Would you like to sort through your slides before you transfer them?  Take 5 offers rentals of slide projectors.
  9. Do you have to take your slides out of the carousel and box them up?  We will accept slides in anything! We have had slides in the original carousels, in boxes and even in silverware trays.   No need to repackage them.
    Slides Silverwear

    Boxes, shoe boxes, bags even silver wear trays.  You can bring in your slides which ever way is the easiest for you.

     

  10. Finally, where are your slides going?  Who is taking care of them?  All of your slides stay local in Onalaska, Wisconsin and you will meet the person who will be scanning your slides. There is a comfort level in leaving your memories with a person you can meet face to face.  There isn’t any chance of your slides being lost or damaged in the mail.   For more information about slide scanning, please contact Linda O’Connell at 608-790-3608 or linda@take5productions.net or visit Slide Information
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Backing up Cell Phone Pictures

A customer had asked me if I could take all her photos and video off of her cell phone.  Her request made me think of something that just had happened to me.

The other morning my Samsung S5 required an update.  I promptly hit yes to update.  After I had updated it,  all my pictures had disappeared!  Panicked?  For a brief moment, but then I remembered that I had an automatic online photo backup app.

I actually surprised myself in that I did this.  Most of the time, I am not this organized!

I had tried the Google app back up service but it didn’t seem all that user friendly.  When I backed up my photos,  a bunch of my pictures were live on my Google account for anyone to see.  I couldn’t figure out the privacy settings.  I am not sure what happened and it seemed to complicated so I switched to Amazon.

Since I am an Amazon Prime member they offer an unlimited photo back free.  The app also includes 5G of video storage.  (That equals about 5 hours)  What is nice about the service is the new pictures automatically update once you get wi-fi.  So you don’t need to worry or even think about it.  Amazon also allows you to download photos from your computer too.  And visa versa you can upload your photos to your computer so you can print them or do whatever you would like to them.

I should mention you can get unlimited video storage for $59.95 per year at the time of this writing.  I should also mention that I am not endorsing Amazon.  There are many good online storage apps available.  Amazon is the one I have the experience with.

For those who don’t have a smart phone, there are other options.  Many phones have a mini SD card slot.  There is usually an option on the phone to transfer all the photos off of the phone onto the SD card.  From there you can plug your SD card into your computer and save it on line or on your computer.  For those who have kept the USB connectors you can simply plug in the connector into your phone, into your computer and click and drag. However, how many of us actually have that plug or know where it is?

Call me old fashion, but I still back up my pictures onto a hard drive also.  I know the internet is here to stay but could Amazon have a data problem someday?  Will Amazon be around in 20 years?  What happens then?

I transferred all my customers photos and video.  To transfer it, it took over 5 hours for the phone to process all the files.  She had over 3 hours of video and 2,000 pictures.  Her phone though was very old and slow.  I am happy to give her a disk, clearly labeled that she will be able to share with her family in many years to come.  Don’t worry,  I will recommend to her to get a back up service on her new phone!

If you need help transferring your pictures from your phone to digital, please Contact Us

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Vinegar Syndrome in Old Movie Film

The brown flaky stuff is the breakdown of the film base on old movie film.

The brown flaky stuff is the breakdown of the film base on old movie film.

Old movie reel with vinegar syndrome.

Old movie reel with vinegar syndrome.

You can see the lines/cracks in the film caused by vinegar syndrome.  However, this is still a precious shot worth keeping.

You can see the lines/cracks in the film caused by vinegar syndrome. However, this is still a precious shot worth keeping.  (Results can vary)

Ahh..the smell of vinegar in the morning.  I can tell right away when someone brings me in old super 8 or 8mm movie film what kind of result they will get.  If the reels are clean, smooth and black we will be able to get good results.  Sometimes however they will have what is called “Vinegar Syndrome” or “VS”.    Just by opening the case the film is stored in, you can smell it.  You can also see it.  It looks like a buildup of white and brown junk.  But it technical terms,  VS  is the breakdown of the film base that produces the smell.  VS is usually caused by improper storage.  Humidity levels that aren’t consistent, such as an attic or garage can cause V.S.  I have also seen damage of films caused by metal containers that have rusted throughout the years and the rust has transferred to the film.

So what can we do about it?  First if you have any reels that aren’t stored properly in a humid basement, garage or attic, move them today.  Any steps you take now can help prevent it from spreading and getting worse.

When I get film like this there are a couple of steps I take.  I separate the movies with VS from the ones without.   (It is strange because sometimes I get film from the same customer, in the same box and some are fine and others are terrible).     I take the film from its container, loosen the reel and let it “breath” for a couple of days.  Due to the smell I usually do this in my storage room.  After a couple of days I clean the reels using a film safe cleaner, a lint less towel and yes a gas mask.  The odors from both the film cleaner and the film require that.  I clean it several times until I feel it is the best I can get.

V.S. cannot be “cured”.  The images already gone will not come back.  What we can do it stop it from getting worse and to transfer it to another form of media while we still have some of the images available.  You can see the results of V.S.  The “lines” in the film in the picture are actually where the image is gone.  Sad that the image is deteriorated but it is still images of friends and family surely worth saving!

Linda loves transferring old home movies for her customers to share.  If you need help transferring your old movie film, please view our Film Transfer Page

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How to Run a Kids Online Video Contest

I own a small video production in Onalaska, Wisconsin. My company specializes in home movie transfer, editing services and video production for businesses and weddings. I had always wanted to run a video contest, but didn’t really get know how to get started. I was looking for a creative way to promote my business, but mostly it was just something I always wanted to do.

I decided to run a “Kids behind the Camera” video contest. The contest was open to all kids ages 6-16. They were asked to make a 1-2 minute video on any topic they wanted. There would be two winners: A producer’s choice (my choice) & a public choice.

I didn’t have a lot of money to promote the contest or give away a lot of prizes so I had to get creative.  I had met the owner of a local parenting magazine, “Coulee Parenting Connection” a couple of times and thought maybe she would be interested in at least providing some free advertising for the contest.  Not only did she love the idea, she asked the local news channel, WKBT if they wanted to be involved. WKBT jumped on board also. Not only did WKBT provide the two cameras that were given away, but they also agreed to interview each one of the winners and show their video on their newscast!

I use Sony Vegas software for my editing software. By chance, Sony is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. I sent an email to them telling them about my contest and would they want to donate a prize. They emailed back, “Sure. What’s your address?” Within a week, I had it new editing software at my door.

So WKBT provided the cameras and advertising on their show and agreed to interview the winners. Coulee Parenting Connection advertised the contest in their magazine and agreed to announce the winners in their magazine. Sony agreed to provide Sony Movie Studio software as a prize. My responsibility was to take care of releases, the video uploads and the public choice voting.

The contest started. The entry time was May 15th- July 7th.  We chose summer because for one, I thought of the idea in spring, but we knew fall was too busy for people with going back to school, winter was too cold to go out and film, so summer was perfect.

The kids were to shot the video, edit it if they wanted to and upload it on YouTube. They would then email me the YouTube link, along with the releases and I would put it on my website.

I required signed releases for every person in the video. Even though the kids put the video up on their own YouTube page, I still wanted to protect myself, especially because all of these videos “starred” minors.

I use and maintain my own website by using Yahoo Site Builder. By maintaining my own site, I was able to easily add the videos right away when they came in.

A few entries trickled in. As the videos came in, I added them on my website, put a link to Facebook and announced every new entry as it came in. I also commented on each video, “Great instructional video today by Gavin. Check out how to learn how to tie a karate belt!”

In all we received 10 entries. Of those 10, 6 came in on the last day.

The videos were in, on the site and ready for voting. I used the Constant Contact application for surveys. I was able to put my “survey” (which was really just one question) on my site. Constant Contact measured the results. I didn’t have to track anything.

I tried to keep the momentum up for the voting by posting it on Facebook and sending out emails to the kids. However, I had made the time frame too long. I had the voting for 2 ½ weeks. I should have only run it one week. 2 ½ weeks was just too long to keep the “excitement” going.

Wow.  I was so impressed by some of the entries we received.  A lot of them had graphics, titles and impressive editing.

I chose a video for “Producer’s Choice” (which was really a very difficult choice) and the public chose “Public Choice”.  In all there were about 500 votes.

At the end of the contest I sent of certificates to each one of the kids. I made up awards such as “Best Stunt”, “Best Comedy” etc. I sent a DVD copy to the winners with their tv interview on it.

Out of the 10 entries, I received 8 phone calls or emails from the parents thanking me for running the contest. I would say it was successful and fun. I just called the magazine and she is excited again to run it this year!

I had some wonderful, funny, cute and serious entries.  For more information about Take 5 Productions, take a look at our website.

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To Flip or Not- Flip Video Camera that is.

Recently, my family went on vacation to Mexico. While packing, my husband once again gave me the “pack light” speech. Vacations have always been a struggle for me. Since I am a “professional” videographer, I want to pack everything: the camera, wireless microphone and tripod. On this trip, I did pack light just my camcorder a Canon HV30. My husband, Bruce meanwhile packed a flip camera and his flip flops and we were off.

I was kind of leery of his Flip Camera. For those who don’t know, a HV30 camcorder is a great camera. Measuring apprx 6 ¼” x 3” x 3 ½” and many optical zoom options and manual settings. Ok honestly, I don’t use most of them, but it is impressive. When I bought it, it cost over $800. Bruce’s flip camera on the other hand, was small about 4” x 1” x 1”. On/off switch that’s about it. Cost around $150.

Arriving in Mexico we were greeted to beautiful beaches, lazy days, and shopping and eating out. There were many times I didn’t want to “drag” my camera along. After all, I didn’t want to take the chance of getting sand in it or getting it wet and well, to be honest I was kind of lazy. After all I was on vacation. Bruce, however, popped his camera into his shirt pocket wherever we went.

Needless to say, Bruce ended up with a lot more footage then I did.

When I we arrived home, I was excited to start editing our footage and compare the quality of the two cameras. My camera is a tape camera meaning I had to use a fire wire to import it. Bruce’s Flip Camera had a flip USB plug. I plugged it in, dragged the files and I was done. So I thought.

When I tried to edit the Flip footage, all I got was audio, no video. After spending hours researching on the internet, I discovered that the Flip Camera is not encoded to work on my editing computer. I discovered I needed to purchase conversion software to convert the files to a workable file. The conversion software cost me $79. Then I was finally ready to edit.

I couldn’t see much of a difference between the quality of the Flip Camera and the HV30 camera. I edited everything together smoothly and have a great vacation video.

Moral of the story? The flip camera won out for size and ease of taking it wherever you went. However, the downfall of the flip is the hassle of the file conversion. Not every computer will have the same problem. I wouldn’t hesitate on using the flip camera on our next vacation.

Linda enjoys taking home movies for herself and transferring them for her clients.  Her website can be viewed here.

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