How to Scan a Photo for Restoration

First, check your photos for dirt, lint, or smudges. Gently remove surface dust and dirt with a soft brush or lint-free photo wipe. Also check the scanner glass for lint, hair, fingerprints, or smudges. Use a lint-free pad or wipe to thoroughly clean the glass (household glass cleaner or anything that’s sold for cleaning camera lenses will work for your scanner). Make sure the glass has fully dried before putting your photo down.

  1. Specify the type of scan; if you’re scanning photos, you have a choice of color photo or black and white. Always scan in RGB color, even if the original source photo is black & white. This is so we will have more options as  we restore your  photo. we can easily change a color photo to black & white (grayscale), but not the other way around!
  1. Determine the best scan resolution to assure the quality of your digital photos. The optimal resolution depends on how the image will be printed, saved, or displayed. Use this calculator to find the best resolution.
  1. Carefully position your photo face down on the scanner glass and be sure it is as straight as possible and centered on the glass (the optics of some scanners distort images slightly around the edge of the scanning bed, so dead center is where you are sure to get your sharpest scan). If your photo has a lot of white in the scene (a snow scene, for example), use a black backing over the photo, covering the glass. Then press “preview.” The scanner will take a quick caption of the image and display a rough version on your screen. Check to see that it’s straight, no part of the photo has been cut off, and that it’s free of dust and lint. You can always preview it again if needed!
  1. Turn off all the automatic filters (sharpening, color correction, scratch and dust removal etc). While these are cool for quick fixes and all, they are disastrous for photo restoration.
  1. Crop the previewed image to include only the original photo without the white border. No need to scan blank space. Also, if you are not scanning for restoration and decide to use all those cool filters, your scanning software might try to compensate for this white area by making the rest of the image too dark.
  1. Scan the original image. Once you scan the photo, you can save it in a variety of formats. Scanning for restoration purposes requires a TIFF or JPEG format. We can handle most other formats, too, but TIFF is best because it is a “lossless” format where no data can be lost from the original image. If you save your photo in JPG format, make sure to save it with no compression and at 100% quality.
  1. Name the file. It is important that you name the files in a way that is useful. A folder of 500 scans called scan0001.jpg isn’t very fun to look through.

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