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family photos are your history and when they are gone,
they're most definitely gone.
Saving Your History in Photos
By Norman Morrison
There is a monster in your closet eating away
your precious photos, and itís so sneaky that you donít even
know it until itís too late.
If you are like most you have family photo
albums or maybe even a shoebox or two full of old photos.
Chances are that youíll be shocked when you finally get
around to viewing them again.
The strangest thing is that the photos taken of
great great granddaddy during the late unpleasantness seem
to be holding up better than the later ones taken in the
latter half of the last century, but then, thatís a factor
of humidity, mold, and sunlight.
All pictures are subject to the processes of time.
Your old black and whites develop spots on them which is
actually mold, whereas your color prints fade or get a reddish
cast. There is very little you can do about your original prints
unless you have a close relative named Kodak, but you can
save what you already have by saving them to some other medium.
These days, anyone with a computer and scanner can
save the photos to a CD, and even have some moderate success at
restoring old pictures somewhat. However, scanning is tedious in
the extreme, and digital restoration is nothing less than a very
time consuming and technically demanding hobby. Everyone isnít
cut out for it. And all the while the photos continue to fade.
If family history is important to you, or if you
think it might become important some day to you or your progeny,
now is the time to save it.
The first thing to do is to take stock of your old
photos and decide what is worth saving. Do you want to save
everything or just a few? Did you find a picture that you
cherish above all others that demands special treatment?
As in most things, there are levels. It need not
cost a fortune to save the bulk of your pictures to CD with
basic correction built in. Then, there are pictures that you may
want a little more correction. Then, there is the photo that you
would like to get restored to hang on the wall. In this case,
the sky is the limit for pricing. Itís all about what you are
willing to accept in the final print. There are people who do
nothing else than restore old photos for a living, and some are
very very good, and also very pricey. If you demand only the
very best, you can find it.
the left find a picture directly from the shoebox circa 1959.
Notice how it has developed the reddish-orange cast? Actually,
this picture held up pretty well compared to many from that era.
the right see the aggressively restored version. While not
perfect, it is much truer to the original. This picture could be
printed to paper, if desired.
nice thing about digital restoration is that no changes are ever
made to the original.
compromise is for you to go ahead decide to save your pictures
and get them scanned at a high resolution (photo restoration
demands high resolution copies) and put on CD. That way, your CD
pictures are as good as the day they were scanned, even though
the originals have continued to deteriorate.
After your photos have been saved, you have several
options. You could leave your CD as is and use your clunky
computer interface to view your pictures, or, much better, they
could be imported to an electronic photo album. Some of the
better ones look almost like the real thing on your monitor. You
can even annotate your pictures and put music with them. CD
photo albums make excellent Christmas presents for your extended
You can also get new prints made very inexpensively
from your digital copies, or you can spend more and get
The main thing is to save those pictures as soon as
possible. One day youíll go for a peek at the family album or
shoebox and great aunt Nellie wonít be there any more. Whatís
worse, mama and daddy, or the kids may also be only a memory.
The only way to avert this is to be a good man or woman of
action and save your history! (Then let the kids worry about
saving the CDís when the next new thing comes along!)
editor of this article is very serious about saving family history to
digital media (CD's) and restoring
old photographs. See his GetCalhoun web page for more information
about contacting him...
OVGraphic Designs on GetCalhoun