Getting Started in Digital Black and White : LUSENET : Black and White Photography: Digital Printing : One Thread

I have all the old (1890s, early 1900s) family photos that somehow have survived the infamous shoebox but they are fading fast and crumbling. They are matt black and white, some glossy, and many sepia toned. I want to digitize, catalogue, and print them.

I havent' bought software or equipment yet for this project. Any suggestions for what I should purchase and read before I start?

-- (Mary, January 12, 1999


The obvious answer, in terms of software, is Photoshop. Pricey, but when you consider the precipitous drop that CPU costs have made, it makes up for it, comparing to the prices of, say, a year ago. PS will let you try a variety of reinterpretations of the original photos -- you may want to scan them B&W and then attempt to re-create the original toned image in color, for example -- not easy to do in lesser programs. A question you must ask yourself, however, is how you want to treat these images. In old photos that I've "archived" digitally, I've always ended up with multiple versions of each, deliberately! I've gone for recording the image as it is now, and for attempting to recreate what it must have been once, and building my own modern interpretations as well. One thing that's often fascinated me are the frames and backs of historical photos. Don't forget them in your scans (and if you try for a digital recreation, consider that the frame may have been colored around the B&W photo). Some of our old family photos were illegibly printed on the back -- bringing them into the computer, I was able to enhance the printing to render it readable, and then (with the help a a friend who could read Russian!) finally interpret them. kb

-- Kevin Bjorke (, January 16, 1999.

Here's one idea. It isn't the only solution but it will work.

Get a scanner that comes bundled with PhotoShop or PhotoShop LE. The Umax PowerLook II would be one good choice. For a computer get a new Macintosh G3 and add 128 MB RAM. Buy a CD recorder. You'll want at least a 17-inch monitor.

Scan the photos, restore them in PhotoShop (tedious, but it works). Use the CD recorder to write the restored files to a CD ROM. For a printer almost anyting will do. The new inkjet printers are marvelous, but the inks are not yet archivally stable. The manufacturers are working on this and should have solutions before the end of 1999.

For reading materials start with "PhotoShop Artistry" by Barry Haynes. After reading this book you'll have a solid foundation. Good luck.

-- Darron Spohn (, January 27, 1999.

I have a "photo printer" from HP, it's made for printing PHOTOS...It's called PHOTO SMART PHOTO PRINTER. You can't tell the difference between a true photo and my printed ones, REALLY. Also, I have been working with PAINT SHOP PRO for a couple of years. It does everything you would ever need your photo/graphic software to do and more. The price can't be beat. Check out for information. It would be great for me If there was another PHOTO SMART printer owner out there that I could share ideas with. Please let me know if you can help. Thank you, Vickie

-- Vickie Cole (, February 02, 1999.

So far most of the answers about equipment have been ok. I would get more RAM than 128M maybe 512M, also as far as printing goes look at outputing your finished work to a bureau that runs a Pegasus LED photo printer. The permanance of photographic prints.

-- Mike Callaghan (, September 30, 1999.

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