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If your old family pictures are not already on your computer's hard drive, scanning or digitizing your photos is a critical step in digital restoration. But it's not actually the first step. The first thing you'll need to do is identify what you have so you can determine how it needs to be scanned. For instance, if you have slides or negatives, we will need a scanner with a transparency adapter. If you have a photo that's so damaged it's falling apart or one that's in a frame, you may need to photograph it.
It's always a good idea to know just what you're dealing with before you start scanning. So what's in your attic? Gather all your old photographs, film, negatives, slides and documents to take stock of what you have. While going through the photos, try to have an older relative on hand to tell you the story behind the photos and who the subjects are. Make notes for inclusion later. Have a number of archival storage or photo boxes like this, handy to helping categorizing your images.
Separate newer from older photos. Then further divide the photographs into category by damage. Put photos that seemed to be lightly damaged into one pile. Perhaps they're just a little faded or have a slight bend. Create another pile for the ones that are the most heavily damaged or in generally delicate condition. These along with older frame photos might have to be digitized using a camera rather than a scanner.
If your framed photos are fairly recent or in flat frames, you'll probably be able to remove them from their frames to scan them or if they haven't got glass on them, you can simply lay them on your scanner. If photos are very old, in original frames, in cases rather than frames as many old photos such as daguerreotypes are or are in a frame with the glass shaped bubble known as convex ovals, be careful.
Damage can occur when you're trying to take them from their frames. Especially in the case of convex ovals, the photograph which is simply a photograph printed on a very thin cardboard like paper and shaped into a oval by steaming will cave in on itself once the frame is removed. Do not remove them from the frame without the help of an expert. Identifying your images and scanning them the right way for the best possible image will not only preserve your photos digitally but will also help you have the best restoration experience and the very best result.
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