Roll Call - Those using Lightroom to manage scanned photos

NJHeart2Heart

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Hi all,
Visiting again after a long hiatus from Lightroom centric activities.

This is not so much a call for help as it is a call for those sharing the same types of challenges due to the less standardized process of scanning physical photos.

I'm back at my long term family history photo scanning journey. I recently scanned about 500 photos from a family member, and after scanning them into my now "standard" photo filenaming convention, realized I still have several groups of photos that are a mess :)

I'd just like to take a quick count of who is currently or recently done a large historical scanning job, with it's related file naming / dating issues. Thought it would be nice to start a thread for those who are focusing on this specific type of work.

It seems that @PhilBurton was the most recent poster regarding photo scanning, but I know there have been others over time. I'm no expert, but I'd be happy to share my journey thus far and tidbits that have helped me smooth out my process (which someone else might find helpful).

How are we all doing with our respective projects? Care to share your current workflow?
Any questions we can brainstorm on together?

Looking forward to chatting with fellow scanner - Lightroom users.
 
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I'm in the middle of what will be many years worth at the rate I'm progressing. :cry:

I love Lightroom for almost all aspects of this -- organizing, publishing, coding, (mostly) editing it works great.

My slides worked wonderfully and quickly, I photographed them using a tethered camera, edited, all done in a few days. Literally all done. No more slides.

But negatives are tough -- color casts, old negatives where the same type has different colors by age, and Lightroom's poor ability to do inverts and then edit make it a real challenge. Taking to photoshop yields better results, Vuescan better still. But I'd love a quick and easy way to do something like a camera profile for negatives that let it do the inversion easily and still do develop controls normally.
 

NJHeart2Heart

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Hi Ferguson,
Thanks for checking in! You are far more advanced than I! I am perfectly happy if I can just get my photos scanned and tagged with names! other than random development for photos here and there, I don't do much at all to further improve the images - at least not right now. For times when I have been asked to provide a collection of images for a particular person (sadly, usually for funerals), I have gone into some of those collected images and done a bit of development, but just scanning and tagging keeps me pretty busy. I definitely have little patience for much development, which is why I have never used Photoshop and much prefer Lightroom's scaled down development tools.

Since you seem to already have mastered the storage/management aspects of your project, I'm curious about what system of organization have you settled on, ie:
1- How do you name your files,
2 - Where do you store them (what folder system do you use),
3 - What naming convention do you use for date taken (to the best of your knowledge, assuming you try to date your scanned photos for historic purposes)?
4 - Where in the metadata do you incorporate the "date taken"?

I'll post my own shortly :)
 
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Yep, I'm still plowing through our family archives. I'm mostly photographing prints, because scanning was just too slow for the ridiculous volume.

I photograph the prints, import as normal - but into a Scans folder structure rather than my normal Digital folders, divided into years.

Dates are pretty vague, but I can usually guess the approximate month/year, so I just set to the first of the month.

Since the photos are organized into albums, I'm using the album number for the filename, followed by a sequence number. So 2017-1-001.dng.
 
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I don't see any reason to use a different system for scanned files. After all, it's hard enough to run one system.

So my naming scheme is the same as for digital images YYMMDD_1234 Subject name.ext. The date is the date on which the image is scanned, and the 1234 is sequential. One doesn't often know the original date anyway, and this method ensures uniqueness of filenames. If I need to find these scans by date....

Files go into the same folder structure as my TIFs and PSDs - so separate from my digital originals but into an existing system. They are TIFs anyway.

I use my CaptureTimeToExif plugin to add as much metadata as I can. So I might add the camera maker and model, if I know them, and an approximate or actual date.

I'll also include references to the source, if known. So with something scanned from my own negatives, Blue2-123 means Blue folder #2 roll #123 and takes me to a negative/film sleeve. For each roll I have a contact sheet, which I have scanned and imported them into Lightroom, then added keywords and all sorts of metadata. In a few cases where there was no contact sheet, I scanned all the negatives and made a digital contact sheet - not high quality, just good enough.

Linwood mentioned negative inversion. Lightroom is designed for positive images, and life's too short for messing around with negatives in it. So I eliminate the problem by scanning to a positive or inverting in Photoshop.

But overall, I try to deviate as little as possible from my standard procedures.

John
 
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Most of mine tend to be vague on dates, but I can usually pin down the year, so I did something like this:

Top folder: ScannedInPhotos
Folder: 1978
Subfolder: WashingtonDCTrip

I then put those shots I can identify with that trip in that folder. I also scan them into a staging area, as it may take a while (or conversations with my wife, or looking for positives that may be stored somewhere different than negatives) to identify them, and then I move them to the right place.

I also am saving the negatives in sleeves in a box. I number the sleeve, e.g. 49.1, 49.2, 49.3, etc. where "49" is a roll (or set of rolls if I can't tell them apart) and the .1, .2, etc. shows the approximate position on the roll. I then attach a keyword to the images from that roll (e.g. 49) as "Sleeve 49.x" so I can get close to the negative later if I wanted a better copy or for some other reason wanted the sleeve. Slides were in just groups, so they got keywords "SlideGroup1, SlideGRoup2, etc." so I could go back to them. It's easy to do these while shooting tethered, you just enter it in once and it attaches to each, so as you change rolls, change keywords.

It is of course not all that important where they are in terms of folders, as it is the captions and titles and other keywords you attached, but I wanted them to have a path back to the original "just in case". Hopefully I never have to follow the path.

When I start up again I may take one more run at negatives, but my thinking is much as he said above: life's too short. But what I think I may do is invert and save as JPG, and then do editing in Lightroom. This saves massive amounts of disk space (if you have a lot of images), and here's my (as yet untested) theory -- if I need a higher quality, I can invert to a TIFF and then apply the same edits as a starting point in LR. Saving all these not-all-that-worthwhile (to say the least) images as large TIFF's is just of questionable value.
 

PhilBurton

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Most of mine tend to be vague on dates, but I can usually pin down the year, so I did something like this:

Top folder: ScannedInPhotos
Folder: 1978
Subfolder: WashingtonDCTrip



When I start up again I may take one more run at negatives, but my thinking is much as he said above: life's too short. But what I think I may do is invert and save as JPG, and then do editing in Lightroom. This saves massive amounts of disk space (if you have a lot of images), and here's my (as yet untested) theory -- if I need a higher quality, I can invert to a TIFF and then apply the same edits as a starting point in LR. Saving all these not-all-that-worthwhile (to say the least) images as large TIFF's is just of questionable value.
How do you fix dust spots?

Phil
 
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I don't see any reason to use a different system for scanned files. After all, it's hard enough to run one system.

I have a good reason - parents. I'll get a "can I have a copy of the 34th photo in the 2017-1 album please?"
 

NJHeart2Heart

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Thanks Victoria and John - Always a privilege to hear from you two, as I consider you among the best (and most pleasant) of the Lightroom experts :)

Victoria - I recently got a "newsletter" from Peter Krogh of DAM Book fame (another of my favorite experts - regarding photo management), and he is finishing up a new book precisely about digitizing physical prints via digital camera. I'm pretty happy with my scanner for now, but if I were coming into the project new, I might consider this method, and would definitely get his book! :)

So your albums are basically by year? I think once I figure out my "mystery scans" and get them indexed, I'll re-visit albums. For now I've just created collections for years or decades, or whatever I can reasonably group by for now, while it's still a WIP. One of the beautys of collections is that very ability to move files around between them so easily and to rename them as they tickle my fancy ;)

John - Thanks for sharing. While I definitely appreciate the desire to keep things as standard as possible, and for my native digitals I am a total "Beardy wannabe" (your posts taught me sooo much over the years and I LOVE your workflow collections hiearchy), I will politely diverge from you here.

Concerning my scans, I'm preserving these photos for future generations who are NOT my direct descendants and will have no idea (nor much focus) how to interpret those photos that "appear" to be organized by date taken. If they see the "date as filename" pattern in all my native digitals, and all my scans are named exactly like the native digitals, it would likely mislead them to think that the filename of the scanned photos also indicate the date a photo was actually taken (not the date the photo was SCANNED). I centralize my scans to just two scanned folders, so I don't have the added complexity of date folders which are completely arbitrary to me. Though I know naming native digitals by date is more out of storage convenience (because hey, lightroom does it automatically and it's just as easy as it is to assign them purely sequential filenames), the traditionalist in me still appreciates that those dates do have some basic meaning.

I don't bother having LR create year\ yyyy\mm\dd folders for those random scanning sessions, since when they are scanned means nothing helpful to me, and only has potential to confuse an ignorant audience.

Still, your method may work great for others, so thank you for sharing that :)
 
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How do you fix dust spots?
Cloning seems to work nicely whether inverted or not. It's not as nice as Silverfast (I think that's the name) or other purpose built software I suspect.

But honestly most of my stuff from this time period is so bad that dust specs are the least of the problems. The real problem I have is color. Even running through Vuescan (which I found easier than Silverfast), and working afterwards with a positive, the colors are really difficult. I think a lot of it is storage -I had everything in sleeves, but only my self-developed ones (B&W) were in sleeves that held up well. A lot of the labs glued the sleeves to the negatives (or tape or something sticky), some just did not preserve well. But even ones that looked decently preserved, the exact same film base would be substantially different colors in different rolls. I assume from storage, maybe from different labs (one would think they all used the same chemistry). And what's worse in some ways, the ones from 1970's are actually better than a lot I had from 1990's, for reasons completely lost on me (I mean in terms of preserving color fidelity).

I probably spent 5% of my time on spots and edits, and 95% on trying to clean up colors. One thing that helps is getting the not-exposed portion visible, because that's a solid black so you can back out some color cast from that.

Makes me wish I shot all slides. Or B&W -- the B&W stuff converted REALLY nicely and easily.

Ah, if we could just go back and do some things over.
 
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I have a good reason - parents. I'll get a "can I have a copy of the 34th photo in the 2017-1 album please?"

That's why recording any physical source is important. It works in both directions too, as one might want to go looking for pictures near to one you've already scanned.
 
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I'm sure Peter's book will be good, Dawn. Funnily enough, when I heard he was doing one, my first thought was "are people still interested in learning about that?" This thread is my answer.

The future generations issue is something I'm sure we all consider. I just don't think it needs to drive my storage - instead it drives me to share the photos I've gathered.

John
 

NJHeart2Heart

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Well said John :) I often have an even more difficult question in my case: "Who cares about me and my husband?" We don't have children, so I have to find other motivation. I think the strength of my motivation is why I do this in spurts - sometimes I feel inspired and other times the inspiration is just.. dry.

I have often picked up on this scanning project over the years due to deaths in the family - people appreciate being given (without effort on their part) a nice collection of photos of their loved ones, plus it gives me a really good way to be supportive.
Sometimes I get intensely focused on it purely for the challenge of completing a group, or organizing (I really love to organize things).
Other times I rationalize that my photos have other people and family in them, and thus are important for the people other than us whom they might relate to. That's why for me keywording names is so important for my scanning project. It makes the process of collecting a group of related photos of a person/family from across time extremely easy. There's nothing quite so useful in getting people invested in what I'm doing as their own self-interest ;)
 
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PhilBurton

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Makes me wish I shot all slides. Or B&W -- the B&W stuff converted REALLY nicely and easily.

Ah, if we could just go back and do some things over.

Only if you shot Kodachrome. My Ektachromes from only 20 years ago are already showing a color cast. And the 3 rolls of Agfachrome that I shot in Paris in 1966, they are completely, utterly faded. Those slides would have been important historically, but now they are almost completely clear film base and nothing more. Ditto for some other non-Kodak brands of slide film. I did a lot of experimenting back then, but it's all lost.

Phil Burton
 

NJHeart2Heart

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@PhilBurton I'm sorry to hear that! It is crazy how different film, and photo paper types have such different lifespans..
 
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Phil, have you tried photographing them in raw? Blank of course is blank, but I had a lot that were badly faded that with a bit of exposure experimentation and then adjusting further in raw I got a lot more detail out of than I would have expected from looking at them by eye.
 

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Phil, have you tried photographing them in raw? Blank of course is blank, but I had a lot that were badly faded that with a bit of exposure experimentation and then adjusting further in raw I got a lot more detail out of than I would have expected from looking at them by eye.
No. I guess I should go back and give it another shot. I have kept all my slides, even the faded ones. Of course, I discarded the duds.
 

NJHeart2Heart

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So, here's another query - For those with heritage photos they tag for faces, what does your workflow look like? I use keywords for named people, but due to the nature of the keyword field I can't tell for sure which photos have "complete name tags" vs. those that have "partial name tags" or "no name tags". I am handling that via color labels that I have to manually change for the above statuses:
Red = No name tags,
Yellow= partial name tags, meaning that I have some people named, but I still want to name others, and need to do research to find the rest, and
Green = complete name tags, meaning I have satisfactorily named every person in the photo that I intend to name (this includes photos without people, so I know that the photo has been reviewed).

I've created a static collection for each set of photos I want to process, then created a smart collection with a purple label which I apply when I initially place a group of photos into the static collection for processing.
I like to work in manageable groups of around 500 photos (usually fewer) at a time so as I process them through, I can see my progress. It makes me feel productive :)

I could I suppose mark all incoming photos with purple labels, and "someday" I might do that, but I am notoriously BAD at processing my photos with the most basic of info, including captions/titles/keywords, so for now, this process allows me to tackle one part of my very large backlog at a time :)

My only problem is how to permanently mark them once they've been processed. I don't want to depend on the "green" label on all my photos, as I might want to use my color labels for a different type of process at some point and/or because it's too easy for me to get bored with a particular project and decide to "start over", meaning wiping out my color labels among other things.

Unfortunately I think I DID just that last time I was actively working with Lightroom. I processed a big group of photos but then never added a permanent tag to them, so when I forgot the purpose of my color labels and wiped them out, I also wiped out the only indicator that those photos were completely name tagged.

My best idea for a solution so far is to create a keyword called "nametagscomplete", so that regardless of what I do or don't do with my color labels, once my photos are processed for name tags, I can select all and add one keyword. That way, they are more permanent than say a custom field that is proprietary to lightroom.

What do you all do?
 

Roelof Moorlag

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I could I suppose mark all incoming photos with purple labels, and "someday" I might do that, but I am notoriously BAD at processing my photos with the most basic of info, including captions/titles/keywords, so for now, this process allows me to tackle one part of my very large backlog at a time
I'm using 'helper-keywords' instead of colorlables but essential it's the same. An example of such helper-keyword is '@AddNames' and i'm adding it to all my incoming photo's with my standard import preset. With help of a bunch of smart collections i keep track of work that has to be done.

When i have some time i select a batch (50 or so) and put them in the quick collection. When i added all names i remove the associated helper keyword. This i do for all the who, what, why, when, where and how questions.
 

NJHeart2Heart

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Hi Roelof, thanks for checking in :)
Sounds like you and I work similarly. Since I tend to second guess what I've accomplished, when I'm done using the color label to process people names, I add "PeopleNamesComplete" to the complete images. Like you I process other metadata the same way..
 
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oleleclos

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How do you fix dust spots?Phil
...honestly most of my stuff from this time period is so bad that dust specs are the least of the problems. The real problem I have is color....
These issues can be dealt with surprisingly effectively by good film scanners. I did this with thousands of my dad's slides from the 1950s and 60s. It's a fairly slow process, but it can be run in batch mode, so you just have to load the scanner every so often.

The attached scans are of one of his Ferraniacolor slides from 1961 - the first is uncorrected and shows exactly what the slide looked like; the second was scanned with Epson's automatic dust removal and colour restoring functions, but is otherwise a "raw" scan, i.e. with no further spotting or edits. I was more than a little impressed the first time I saw this.

Sweden 61 063a.jpg


Sweden 61 063.jpg
 

Roelof Moorlag

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I have the same experience with the standard Epson scan software provided with my Perfection V700 Photo scanner, quite impressive.
For my slides i used the Reflecta Digitdia 5000 scanner which is able of 100 slides per batch. The standards scansoftware that came with it (Cyberview X) did a very good job either. Only Kodachrome slides where problematic. The 'digital ICE' technoloy does not work on those (for what i understand, the Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED is the only one that can).
 
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If I remember correctly, Digital ICE works with infrared, which cannot be used on Kodachrome because Kodachrome contains metallic silver. I doubt that the SuperCoolscan 9000ED can change this fact, so maybe it uses another (software only) technology for Kodachrome.
 
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I was skeptical since I have a Super Coolscan 5000ED where Digital ICE doesn't work on Kodachrome or silver B&W, but the Wikipedia entry on Digital ICE says that the 9000ED does have a newer version of Digital ICE that can clean up Kodachrome (see the section "Further Development"). And that SilverFast and Fuji have versions of that technology. Another website shows examples of the 9000ED with Kodachrome.

At the moment I'm wrestling with severe color shifts on scans of 30-year-old color negatives. After I have VueScan do initial negative inversion, fade correction, color restoration, and dust/scratch removal, in Lightroom I also have to add a Blue curve midpoint shift that finally gets the color to neutral. For these negatives anyway, the curve adjustment worked better than adjusting white balance, HSL, or camera calibration.

But then I have to add two white balance adjustments as graduated filters along the long edges of the frames because the filmstrip edges are more faded than the center...lots of fun.
 

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It's funny about the dust removal.

When I first started scanning, I did some removal myself, and then resorted to a service to do the scanning since they had far better tools than I did. And got very good results.

But now, I don't remove. With my family, they kind of WANT the defects. Since these days anyone with an Instagram filter can make any image look old, my cleaned up ones keep getting mistaken for filter-altered images. My family likes the messed up scans precisely because they are obviously scans. And dirty like the slides and prints we've passed around. Sigh.

BTW, don't know if it's still the case but I actually ended up using Photoshop Elements to do a bunch of the scanning processing. It's out-of-the-box corrections, adjustments, and so on worked really well as a starting point.

And as to the person workflow, I use keywords. FAR more flexible than labels, and in my case I write to file. So that if I use something else with the scans I can still tell where they are in a workflow. Labels in Lr are kinda like keywords with colors assigned, and I've never liked the system though, so I confess to a bias.
 
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