Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quick and dirty album imaging

The unexpected energy of two organizers means that my high school is having a class of '76 reunion (11th grade in Quebec). I'd love to go, but I can't make it. I sent some images from my iPhoto libraries, but then I decided to try to include material from a very crummy old album.

I didn't have time to peel the photos out and scan them, much less hunt down the negatives, so I decided to try a very crude approach to imaging, one that wouldn't quite qualify for Scanning Basics 101. I put the album on the floor with the cover sheet peeled back, and I snapped page shots with my Digital Rebel XT dSLR. I then ran the images through Aperture, cropped a few and adjusted levels, straightened the pages, then uploaded them as JPEGs. You can see some examples (page background visible) here.

It was a very fast process and it worked surprisingly well. In a few cases I could see more detail on the screen than was readily apparent in the original print. In other cases the original print is better. I'm going to try this with several old albums, though I'll probably use a tripod and work harder to square the images.

PS. While editing this post Firefox abruptly died and I lost the original draft. It's never done that before!

Update 8/13/07: See also: Google Earth and Picasa: strange loops and the need for four dimensional coordinates in Google's image map layer

Update 8/15/07: I've been puzzling over the fact that at least one image shows more detail than is apparent in a quick glance of the original print. On reflection, it's a product of the sophistication of modern digital software enhancement. Aperture is playing tricks on us, filling in missing data by some clever inferencing. The digital image is a simulacra of the original analog image. Interestingly, as a trigger of memory, the simulacra is more effective than the original. The inferencing works. For more on this topic, see this.

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