Working With Images

Photos, Slides Negatives

"Digitizing" is the process of converting your photos, negatives, and slides into a digital format where they can be stored and viewed on computers, as well as easily shared with others.

Getting your photos into a digital format is not hard, though it may take some time to do so. Our library can help you get started.



A standard HD (high definition) computer monitor has 1,920 pixels across and 1,084 pixels tall. Standard digital TVs are now "4K" and higher are 3,840 pixels across and 2,160 pixels tall. An Apple iMac 5K screen has 5,120 pixels across and 2,880 pixels tall. Why this information is important is you need to have an idea where you would like to display your scanned photos. Realize that as monitor resolution continues to improve over time, your photo scanned at 1,920 X 1,084 will display on higher resolution monitor as being smaller in size. If you try to view in a larger size, "pixelation" will occur, or in other words, the photo will begin to be less clear on the screen.

For most people just preserving photos to use in a book, or to share with others, the standard "HD" resolutions of 1,920 X 1,084 should be sufficient.

Let’s say you want to scan a 2”H X 3”W photo, but want to display on an HD monitor or TV.

An HD monitor has 1920 pixels across. Divide by 3 (the horizontal width of the photo)

You would use a scanner setting around 600 dpi.

What about a 4”H X 6”W photo scanned to HD quality?

Divide the 1920 horizontal resolution by 6 (the horizontal width of the photo).

Your scanner settings would be 480 dpi. Select the closest DPI setting on your scanner, which probably would be around 450.

You have a large 8”W X 10”H family photo.

What scanner settings would you use?

Take 1920 divided by 8. A scanner setting of about 300 dpi will work well.

Slides & Negatives

Slides are generally about 1" H X 1.5" W.

Use the 1920 dpi and divide by 1.5.

Set the scanner resolution to about 1200. However, I will often go much higher if you have a good scanner, generally around 3200 dpi.

Flatbed scanners are the most common type of scanner. The photos are placed on a glass scanning bed where they are then converted into a digital image on the computer, and then stored to the computer hard drive.

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Other non-flatbed scanners may come with what is called an ADF or automatic document feeder, where a stack of pictures or documents can be scanned as a batch. Scanning a multipage document into a PDF (Portable Document File) is best accomplished with this type of scanner. This is also a much quicker method of scanning individual photos to digital images, as these types of scanners can scan up to 50 images/minute. Double sided documents can also be quickly scanned as well.

Slide Scanners offer a good way to get your old slides into a digital format. The slides, typically mounted in a tray, are easily scanned into the computer. There are some flatbed scanners that can also scan slides.

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We all have some photos that can use some "tweaking" to bring out better detail. Learn how to do some basic photo editing using, a free online photo editor that has many Photoshop type tools. (You may need to install Adobe Flash to use this editor). I have a photo tutorial using 4 old photographs that we will use as samples to edit. You can follow along with the tutorial, or even better, come to our hands on photo editing classes here at the library. We will cover tools such as the Free Transform, Clone, Healing Brush, Cropping, Color Balance, Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Free Distort and both the "Burn" and "Dodge" brushes.

There are a FEW basic photo editing tools that you can learn to use to manage 95% of your pictures. It's amazing how a really poor picture can be improved with a little skills practice and a basic photo editing toolbox to help you.

Photo Editors
There are many different photo editors available to correct color, take out scratches & dust and such from old photographs, that go from expensive to free and in between.  Probably the most well-known is Photoshop. There is a slightly less extensive app called Adobe Photoshop Elements. I personally have really liked one called Affinity Photo by Serif. It has an extensive collection of editing tools. Come by the library and we can show you the tools.

Let's Get Started With Some Tutorials

#1)Download the 4 Tutorial Photos.

#2) Open up the photo editing application

#3) Open up the tutorial by clicking by clicking on the blue button to the right. The tutorial focuses on two of the photos. Use the other two photos you downloaded to practice those same skills on.

Left Image
Right Image
Left Image
Right Image
Left Image
Right Image
Left Image
Right Image

NEVER do the editing on an original file. Always FIRST make a copy and then do your editing on the copy. You will look back at your edits at times and think, "I know how to make this photo look better". If you no longer have your original photo, you are editing an already poor quality photo.

Over time, as you open, edit, and save a photo that is saved in a .jpeg or .jpg format, you will tend to lose data with each "save". Try to do all your editing of that photo in one session, then save it, and do not change it. The quality should be fine. If you need to do edits over several sessions, save the file in a TIFF format, until you have completed ALL your edits. If you are really into photography, most pros will have you save your files in a .tiff format, which will not lose data with each save.

How to Download the Photos Files

The 4 tutorial photos as in a "Zip" file.
When you click on the "Download" button below, the file will be downloaded to your "Downloads" folder on your PC
Typically you can just right click on the downloaded file and "Extract" the file.
A new folder called "Pix Archive" will be created.
In that folder are 4 photo files that will be used for the tutorial.