Photographs from Chaos to Order

May 18, 2020



I have started a project which is much bigger than I had thought and is likely to take much longer than the lockdown. The project concerns the organisation of 30,000 digital photographs and others in two large boxes from the pre-digital age. The 30,000 don't really present a problem since they are managed in Adobe Lightroom but the others present all sorts of problems. Converting printed images to digital images is not only time consuming but also difficult. Given the volume of pre-digital images I have decided that I will only convert images of people. Landscapes and cityscapes are a secondary consideration and will only be converted if I live long enough!

My end goal is to have the pre-digital images converted and imported to Lightroom/Photoshop where they can be classified, enhanced and form part of a book about our family and friends.

There are two options to convert the images:

  • Photograph the images - I have a Manfrotto tripod with a swivel head which would allow me to position my camera (Olympus EM1 Mark II) vertically, position the images on a flat surface and then take the photographs using a remote control for the camera. The Olympus provides a WiFi connection to my iPhone which enables them to be imported periodically. Once imported to the iPhone they then automatically transfer to Lightroom CC. There are however a number of difficulties:
    • The printed photgraphs are not flat which means that parts of the image are out of focus
    • It is difficult to avoid reflections on the photographs and using flash just makes matters worse
  • Scan the images - I use a HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 which is able to scan at up to 1,200 dpi. The issues associated with scanning are:
    • No matter what precautions are taken there always seems to be dust specs shown on the resultant image
    • The resolution is not good enough to enlarge some of the very small photographs from early in the 20th century

It seems that the appropriate method depends on the photograph to be converted and as yet my experimentation has not allowed me to settle on the best option. All I know is that whatever approach I take it will require a lot of patience and time.

Later Information

I have done quite a bit of experimentation and it is clear that the best way to digitise old photos is to scan them. However the scanner that I have is part of an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier and the software and resolution is insufficient to provide a good outcome. I therefore researched photo scanners and have purchased an Epson V39 Photo Scanner directly from Epson for a tad over $150 including delivery charges. The specifications of this scanner are mid range but suitable for my purpose and the price point is acceptable. It does not have the capability of scanning film strips nor slides which suits me perfectly and that is probably why it is inexpensive. I have set up a workflow so that I scan a photo which is sent to a shared folder on a network drive and the photo processing software automatically imports it from the shared drive. An added bonus is that it also recognises faces in the photos and associates like faces. There are a few wrinkles that I am still sorting out but it seems to be a good solution.

About the Author

Martin Fuggle has long been interested in travel, photography and website development as a way of recording travel experiences and other miscellany.

Links to my sporting clubs

I am on the committee of Harlequin Rugby Union club but no longer play rugby union. However I thoroughly enjoy royal tennis at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club in Richmond.

Harlequin Rugby Union Club
Royal Melbourne Tennis Club

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You can learn a little about me and my immediate family. I would be pleased to receive an email from you but there may be a delay in my response.

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