Working on a client’s ancestry digitizing project recently we learned a little information about photographs and film that we thought we would share. While scanning I had a Kodachrome envelope in my hand and there is this disclaimer on it, “Since color dyes may change over time, this product will not be replaced for, or warranted against, any change in color.” With this we set out and did a little more research and found that most color photographs, slides, and negatives begin breaking down in just 15-20 years even when stored in optimum conditions. This number varies greatly depending on the age of the photo, dyes used to print it, and by manufactured the dye/paper. Each manufacturer gave their own estimates for longevity of their dyes and process, but truth be told we have not made it far enough into the future to know what really worked and what did not. We all know that color photos fade over time. The more light especially sunlight they are exposed to will cause degrading. This is known as Light fading and occurs when materials are exposed to light, e.g. while on display. The intensity of the light source and ultraviolet (UV) rays will affect the rate of change and fade. Magenta dyes will typically fade the quickest. If you have ever took a photo out of a frame that was hanging on the wall or on a table you definitely know what we mean. Dark fading occurs regardless of the procedures taken to preserve a photograph and is unavoidable. It is instigated by temperature and RH. Cyan dyes will typically fade more quickly, which will make the image appear too red in color. We see this most often in slides, film, and negatives and some paper photos. There is also Highlight staining which occurs with older color photographic papers, and is a yellowing of the border and highlight areas of a photograph. Dark fading and Highlight Staining are quite often correctable in digitized files. It is a process we call color balancing and offer it at no cost with our scanning projects.
We are frequently asked what we use to manage our own photos. While that is a very good question it has many answers depending on the situation. Over the years we have changed software and tactics to achieve that perfect balance of speed and functionality. We use keywords to identify people and events in our photos. We found Adobe Bridge and Microsoft OneDrive work best for us. Both applications are free and allow us to maintain keywords/tags in our photo library. Bridge maintains a hierarchical list of all keywords previously used. This permits the user to select multiple photos and add keywords to them with a simple click of an existing keyword or adding a new one. As photos are tagged with keywords Bridge is simultaneously updating the files on disk without having to run any type of sync or action from the viewing application.
We store our photo library in folders on OneDrive, by year and event. Bridge and OneDrive allow the user to access and edit the library from mac, pc desktop/laptop and mobile devices like an iPhone. Adobe Lightroom is another software that has many great features, however, the user is limited to only working from one device. Otherwise, Adobe Lightroom would be our software choice over Bridge. This is a huge limitation when you are working with large libraries and multiple devices.
Once photos are stored tagged, searching for that special memory in your files becomes much easier. You can use the search feature in Windows File Explore and/or Apple OSX. On an iPhone use “tag:” identifier example:”Tag:(Ayva AND (Yeti OR Nana))” or Apple Finder for example:”Keyword:Ayva AND Yeti AND Nana”. On the mac, you can use the “+” under search to add different criteria to the search. Note: you have to add Keyword to the criteria by clicking on other, search for a keyword then checking its box so it will show up in the list.
We have over 17,000 photos and can narrow our search to less than 100 tagged photos in seconds.
Another plus to this method of photo management is that files are left in the folders you store them in until you chose to move them. There is no “import” you must go through where your files are all moved into an internal database and hidden folders like Google Photos and Apple Photos have adopted. We also found when using Apple photos is while photos are searchable in Apple Finder and Apples Photos Application they are not in photos that are shared. If you share your photo library with your spouse in Apple Photos all of the keywords are removed and not searchable. The same is true of Adobe Lightroom’s Mobile app there is no keyword search. While sharing my Microsoft OneDrive photos directory with my spouse gives her all the perks that I have as far as searching and syncing to the newest photos we have taken.
While this may not be the perfect combination for everyone we find it works quite well for us as it is cross-platform, searchable, and auto backs up to multiple locations. While working with many different photo management software over the years we can help guide you to something that works for your needs. Give us a call and let talk photos!
In 1982 when we opened our doors for business our name, Dimensions In Scanning & Conversions symbolize our dedication to the scanning and conversion of hard-copy documents, paper photos, slides, negatives and a magnitude of video tape types to their new up and coming digital counterparts. We were armed with two Kurzweil scanners that were the size of a large copier. Our services included scanning hard copy documents for companies and OCRing them into editable documents for standalone word processors and desktop PC's software applications like Word Perfect. With that we moved into converting between different formats (Word Processors, Spreadsheets, and Databases) on PC and Macintosh. Over the years we have continued to expand on variations of these services.
Image scanning has always been a staple service that we have enjoyed since we opened our doors in '82. It is always an amazing journey for us, as we walk through history and time to create amazing relationships with our clients while ensuring their memories for generations to come. Securing your families digital tree can be a daunting task and it is something that we understand very well, here at Disc. In 2010 we completed our own digital conversion of our family history. Collecting pictures, negatives, slides and video tapes from as many of our family members as we could. It was awesome to get in touch with so many family members, some we had not seen in a very long time. The entire family was excited to see what everyone had to share, motivating us to get the project done and collect as much history as we could.
In the end we had converted close to 250 family videos from VHS, 8mm, and Betas to digital mp4 files and well over 20,000 photographs, slides, and negatives were scanned. We have since built a website on smugmug.com that holds all the images for our entire family to see and share. Everyone is helping with identifying the people and places using tagging and keywords. It was a very rewarding and fun family project.
It was really crazy Disc has been doing this since we opened our doors and had never digitally archived and converted our own family genealogy. The one thing that we learned in this endeavor is, hard copy photographs and video tapes have a shelf life and many items seem to disappear or are thrown out over time as families grow.
In 2001 during tropical storm Alison my mother's home flooded here in Houston. In that flood we lost much of our family history as the water damaged and/or destroyed many of our own childhood/family memories that were on video tape and photographs. Today we have everything stored digitally and backed up to the Cloud and on hard drives so they can be preserved for our children and grandchildren for years to come.
While our primary focus is the scanning and conversion we are always here to help. If you are unsure how to proceed with your own project please come by and see us we are here to share our knowledge and assist how we can.
How do you store your family history?
Next up Tagging and key-wording of digital files. How, When, and Why!