getting digital: how to scan pics like a pro

A reminisart is printed big so that the photos can easily be seen from anywhere in a room. But an enlarged photo can look blurry or pixelated if not scanned at a high resolution. 

At reminisart, we know your precious memories deserve to be treated with care.

How can you make sure you’re scanning pictures properly? First, follow the instructions for the model of your scanner. Our list of ‘do’s, ‘don’t’s, and additional tips will further help you digitize images with all of the gorgeous, vivid detail of the original.

(Working with slides or negatives? It’s not quite as straightforward — read more below.)

How to scan high quality, high resolution images

✔️ DO:

  • Carefully clean and dry the scanner’s glass plate.
  • Gently wipe your photo free of dust with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Set your printer/scanner to save as high resolution jpegs, at 300 or 600 dpi.
  • Opt for colour scanning, even if the photo is black and white.
  • Place the photo a bit away from the edges of the scanner area to include the scalloped edges of an old photo, or the date printed on the side of a Kodachrome.
  • Save each picture as a jpeg under 10 MB; pdf files are unsuitable, and tiff files are too big.
  • Save your digitized pictures together in a folder until we have confirmed that all is well with your scans.

❌ DON’T:

  • Scan more than 1 picture at a time. Scan each picture on its own.
  • Crop, straighten, correct or retouch your photos after you’ve scanned them. Leave any adjustments to our digital artists, who have the professional software to polish all your photos to match.
  • Edit your images. Each time you open, edit, and re-save a jpeg file, it loses quality.
  • Compress your files before you upload them.

Resolution: not just for the new year

What does ‘resolution’ mean, you ask? And how do you make sure your printer or scanner is at the right setting?

Image resolution refers to how much detail a picture holds: high-resolution images are crisp and detailed, and low-resolution images are blurred and pixelated. Print resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi), and on most scanners and printers you can specify what dpi to scan your images at.

(Not sure where to find this setting? Try looking up your printer model number — most guides are available online. If you’re still running into issues, call in the professionals! A tech-savvy friend or relative might be willing to lend a helping hand. If they’re stumped, there are tech coaching companies that you could search for online, ready to dig up the answer.)

To show how resolution changes with dpi, we’ve put together some examples below. The original image is the official wedding photo of reminisart™ founder Sylvia’s parents. Taken on April 14, 1955, the picture is the size of a printed postcard, and the quality is very good. 

The samples below show how each image would print on a reminisart™ when scanned and saved at different settings.
  

File type: jpeg
Resolution: 72 dpi
File size: 39 KB

A low-resolution, low-quality scan will look bad when blown up. Notice the blurry floaty things (called ‘artifacts’) around the couple’s heads.

File type: jpeg
Resolution: 300 dpi
File size: 426 KB

Quality is improved. But this image was also saved and re-saved 3 times, and the artifacts are starting to show. 

File type: jpeg
Resolution: 600 dpi
File size: 1.2 MB (1,200 KB)

The image is smooth and crisp. This will print beautifully. 


Notice that the file size increases as the resolution increases — this is because the amount of data being captured has increased. Certain file types (tiff files, for example) do offer even higher resolution, but are slow to upload and difficult to work with due to large file size. High-resolution jpeg files offer a perfect balance of image resolution with a manageable file size.

If you must be negative

If your desired photos are on slides or negatives, you will need to have those professionally scanned. There may be a photo lab in your area, or a professional photographer with a macro lens may be able to help. Whatever option you choose, be sure to ask them to output digital files as large, high quality jpegs.

The finishing (re)touches

We touch up all photos received. However, damaged photos will require more extensive restoration, and some actions may not be possible, per our restoration guidelines:

  • We repair scratches, folds, and faded areas.
  • Removal of small distracting elements is sometimes possible.
  • It is usually not possible to remove a person from a photograph.

If you do choose to restore any images, the final versions will be emailed to you for your personal use.

Once you have all your images ready, store them as high-res digital files in a folder on your computer. Label each picture with enough detail for easy searching and organizing; consider using the location, a name, and the approximate date or decade in the file name.

Follow these tips and tricks, and you’ll be one step closer to a stunning reminisart™ that will be talked about for all the right reasons.

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