If you were born in a century beginning with a “19” then you likely have a box or two or twelve like I do in my closet. A box full of old photo albums, or boxes of print photos. All memories. All un-digitized. Or the better ones hanging on a wall, stuck inside glass.
I’ve done my share of scanning with a flatbed scanner or trying to get a quality re-image with my DSLR,a process t-e-d-i-o-u-s enough to discourage you from ever opening that box again.
There might be an answer. With a device that is right in your pocket. Check out the Google PhotoScan app (iOS and Android)
Photos from the past, meet scanner from the future.
So quaint. “People took real photos”.
You can read some reviews on web sites, or wade through the app reviews (no choral harmony there). Or try it. I opted for the latter.
This is the process.
- Pick out an old photo (no not that one, do not put that one on the internet!)
- Sit it on a flat surface, but do not worry (I did mine on a bed spread covered with dog hair). Best with good natural light on it.
- Fire up the app.
- Center the photo, press the button
- Move the camera until the center circle overlaps the 4 corner circles presented
It offers to save them to a Google Photos app (which I do not have) which I guess would upload to the Goggle in the Cloud. I just saved mine to my iPhone camera roll.
The app does some magic to assemble 5 images into one, remove everything outside the image, and correct glare. For doing this off of a phone, hand held, unaligned, is stunning.
I did nine photos in about 15 minutes.
This drawing by a friend of my old dog Mickey was from a framed photo.
There it is, the mid 1970s, and I am in my bar mitzvah suit.
My goatee era, hiking near Strawberry, likely around 2003 or 2004.
My dad atop Camelback Mountain, for my wedding in 1992.
Oh my big poofy hair and glasses! This is aboard my sisters sailboat, maybe mid 1990s. A bit distortion from the curvature of the image.
There I am, fourth grade, eager to learn. Oh the hair.
High school graduation photo, yes standing behind a cardboard cutout of a suit. Baby face.
The black Jeep I owned in maybe 1996, 1997, somewhere in northern Arizona? New Mexico?
Mom says I am the apple of her eye, but will she use the peeler? This is sometime maybe 2008?
This is crazy easy to do. Is it ideal for digitizing?
- As anything, the results depend on the quality of the original. You cannot overcome small photos, scratches, bad exposures in the original.
- Using better light helps, outdoor filtered light would be best.
- The results are not super high rez, mine are about about 1200px – 2000px in the long side.
- Some exposures have casts or just are not sharp. I edited mine as usual to correct color and cropping
- It can do amazing feats with removing the glare from photos under glass.
I would not use this for important photos or things I might need in video work. But for doing some quick web storytelling, or doing some family stories, it is rather compelling.
And it’s better than the box of neglected photos, the ones “maybe one day I will scan”.
Top / Featured Image: flickr photo by me https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/31058493106 shared under a Creative Commons (CC0) license