Brighten Up An Old Photo – Part 1/3

60-Paul_Snow01Haysleigh Gardens Jan. 1968 These two photos are before and after editing with free software Photoscape.  A 45 year old Kodak print was brought into the digital age.  That photo inspired my first memoir on this blog – First Snowman.  This article, in two parts, will demonstrate how that editing was achieved.

It is fairly easy to do, and if you have not tried this before I hope you find this guide helpful.  With the careful application of a little knowledge and a few basic items almost anyone could achieve similar results, possibly better.  The only advantage I have now is that I have been scanning and editing photographs for about 10 years.

What you will need:

  1. A scanner or printer/scanner (you could also scan photo at a print shop)
  2. One old photo or more
  3. Free photo editing software (Photoscape 3.6 – a guide to download included)
  4. A computer that can run the software (Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7/8)(version 3.4 – Windows 98 or Me)
  5. An hour or two of free time (much less once you are more familiar with it all)

Step 1 – Scan the photo (5-15 mins)

If you don’t own a scanner this step can be carried out at a shop where photo printing is available, as they often have scanners too.  The scanned image or images can be carried home on any data storage device, like a memory stick, data CD, etc.

Once scanner and computer are ready, just place the photo face down on the glass, close to and aligned with the edge of the glass area. If the photo has a white border (as the one I used did) it is preferable to use the scanner options to zoom in on the photo.  If possible scan just the photo area, without the borders, with the photo as near to straight as possible. (Each scanner is different so see the user manual for details on your scanner.)

If the white border is included in the scan (like the first image above) it tends to cause the white balance to be incorrect, altering the colours of the photo.  That photo was scanned some years ago, before I learned that.  If you want to show a photo with its original borders, it can be done, with a little experimentation, it will need more fine tuning of the colour balance at the editing stage.

Once you have the photo scanned, make sure you have saved the scanned image and know where it is stored on the computer.  That might sound obvious, but it is surprisingly common to misplace photos on a computer, forget to save scanned images or accidentally delete them!

Step 2 – Install Photoscape (5-15 mins)

Photoscape is a free to use graphics editor for both individuals and companies.  Since its launch in 2008 it has become increasing popular as it is a small, very versatile and easy to use piece of software, that can do many things normally associated with larger, complex and expensive software packages.  It will NOT do everything Photoshop or Paintshop Pro can do, but it does imitate many of their functions.  Not everyone can afford to buy or has the time to learn how to use those programs.  For a simple improvement of an old photo and many other fun things Photoscape is ideal.  Perhaps I will cover some of the other things you can do with Photoscape in the future.

If you already have photo editing software and are familiar with it, you could probably follow part 2 of this guide and carry out similar tasks, but I will only detail how to use Photoscape.  To download the officially free software just visit Photoscape.org (Click the name to go to the official home page.) Choose the download tab near the top left of the home page, then choose from one of the download sources.  Multi-language support is available.  The file is only just over 20MB in size so should be a very quick download for most people.

Once you have the downloaded EXE file install it, pausing to read the options on the installation screens.  Click the options button on the first screen to choose if a Start Menu group is created, or a quick launch and desktop link.  Creating a Start Menu group is a good idea, so it easy to find and start the program, the other two options are more personal preferences.  See terms & conditions and agree to see the next screen.  You may be offered Google Drive, with a tick box checked.  As it I did not need that I unchecked that option and then clicked install.

Installation is quick and automatic, and soon the installation confirmation screen will come up with the run Photoscape option button.  Click that to open the program for the first time.  If you need more help to familiarise yourself with the basics then return to the Photoscape.org website and click the Help tab for free video guides on how it all works.

See Part 2 and 3 for how to use Photoscape to crop and edit the photo.
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