How to Scan Photographs

How to scan in Photos.

If you don't have a digital camera, you'll want to scan in your own print photographs so you can work on them "digitally".  As long as your scanner comes with software that you have already installed, Photoshop should be able to read it.  You don't have to use a lesser image editing program to scan in photos; you can do it right from within Photoshop.

Just go under File: Import: and choose your scanner (it should be listed there).  Then you can bring up your scan software, place the photographs face down on the scanner, choose your settings and scan.  They are then imported into Photoshop.  From there you will have to:

Make a selection around one of the photographs with the rectangular marquee selection tool.  Go to Edit: Cut (or copy), File: New: cut or copy (with the rectangular marquee selection tool) onto a File: New (press enter to create the document) and Edit: Paste.  One great thing about Photoshop is that it remembers the pixel dimensions when you make a selection and Cut or Copy (because it presumes you might make a new document to paste it onto).

Do this process of making a selection with the marquee tool around each photograph, copy and paste onto a new document.  You can learn shortcuts by reading them from the file menu where they are listed.  In Photoshop CS you can customize shortcuts. 

Your goal is to put each of the original pictures onto it's own document so you get them off of the scanned document.  When you have them saved onto their own document, you can crop and make adjustments from there and get rid of the scanned document (which usually fits 3-4 regular size photos).  If you don't have time you can just save the scanned in files and separate them at a later time.

Now your original (35mm) photos are ready in the digital realm.  After making adjustments, you can export them via web, print, email, etc.

There are two other ways you can manage scans faster.  One is to create an Action in the actions palette and batch process all of your scanned documents (3-4 photos each) so it creates the proper size document and places each onto it's own file.  This can get tricky because you have to position each photograph exactly in the same place and either horizontally or vertically (all the same) or things will get messed up in the automation.  It will take some experience with automation and if you can get it going properly (I did a few times) it can save you lots of time if you have dozens of photographs to scan in.

In Photoshop CS there is a new function called "Crop and Straighten Photos" Under File: Automate that will do the entire process automatically for you.  It isn't flawless though but when you get it to work properly, it is lightning fast.  It may take a few tries, as it did when I recorded it for the Photoshop CS Bonus CD (you don't see the failed takes, hehe).  A tip when doing that is to make sure that the lid is closed tight and that the photos are not touching each other so there are distinct lines to make it easier for Photoshop CS to separate them.

What resolution should you scan at?  Read the article.  You can also check out the tutorial from right here on scanning in and saving images.

- Article by Orion Williams copyright 2004




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