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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in iphoto (3)


    Archiving JPG Scans and Photos from Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Digital Camera, and Mobile Phone

    Nebraska summer

    Nebraska Summer
    JPG 614 KB vs. TIFF 9.2 MB

    It's no coincidence that compact mobile scanning devices produce only JPG files. Whether you are using a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, a cell phone camera, smartphone app, wand scanner, or point-and-shoot digital , the resulting digital file is a JPG image file. 

    JPG files use compression to keep the overall file size small so that more images can fit on a storage card or hard drive. Small portable devices like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and digital cameras need this kind of high-capacity storage. The Flip-Pal is completely battery-powered and saves scanned images to a small SD card, probably like the one in your digital camera. The included 2 MB SD card will hold about 900 scans at 600 dpi resolution. That's a lot of photos in a very small space.

    JPG vs. TIFF

    In the world of digital imaging, JPG is a hero because the file format can compress an image to save space. This compression makes it possible to email a photo, send a file for printing, or post pictures to Pinterest or Facebook. But every time a JPG file is Saved, a bit of the information within the file is lost. Hence, JPG files are known as lossy files. For the average photo that is opened a saved a few times, the image loss is probably undetectable to the average eye. But when a photo is opened, edited, and saved repeatedly, the image can become almost unusable.

    It doesn't matter if the JPG image originated in your digital camera, your wand scanner, or on your smartphone, the JPG file will degrade with repeated Saves. How many? I tried to correct a poor quality digital photo over several sessions with my photo editing software; after more than a dozen attempts the image became blotchy and filled with pixellated artifacts. 

    Professional archivists and photographers have always had more demanding goals than consumers. They want to preserve original materials, and recommend using TIFF loss-less file format for archiving images. Unfortunately, TIFF files can be huge, and even with the current low price of terabyte storage, TIFF files are impractical for sharing and storing on portable devices. 

    In the world of digital photography, the equivalent of TIFF format files is RAW, another very-large file that requires some amount of post-photograph developing. Most family photographers don't need or want to learn to "shoot RAW."

    What Genealogists Want

    Family historians want it all. We want digital files we can

    • share with friends and family
    • post on websites, social media and sharing sites
    • print at our local big box store
    • edit and use in digital photo albums and scrapbooks
    • include in video slideshows and presentations

    AND, We want to create these digital files

    • without power cables
    • without computer cables
    • without a lot of fuss
    • wherever we happen to be at the moment

    My experience with that damaged photo taught me to use a simple workaround so I will never lose a JPG file again. Here's what I learned:

    Three Solutions

    The best advice we have today offers three easy solutions to preserving digital images for the future. The one you choose should depend on your time, funds, and personal goals. 

    TIFF is the archival gold-standard. Try to scan heirloom photos and documents in TIFF.

    When you don't have the option of TIFF, don't despair, remember C-A-N:

    C - Convert your JPG to TIFF and save all TIFF files in an Archive Folder.

    Tip: Use the same filename for both JPG and TIFF files. The .tif extension will remind you that this large, loss-less file is your Digital Master Image. If you need to open it for editing, the TIFF version will not degrade when saved.

    When you need a JPG version for email, editing, or another project, you will need to Export or Save As JPG.

    A - Archive a JPG copy of the original file and save this new JPG in an Archive Folder.

    Make it a Rule never to open the Archive JPG unless the original file is damaged or lost.

    Tip: Use a common root filename for both files --

    smith-john_1916_marriage.jpg (for the original file)

    smith-john_1916_marriageDM.jpg (for the Digital Master copy in your Archive Folder)

    N - Use a Nondestructive photo editor.

    Some photo editing programs never modify the original file. You can ALWAYS revert back to the original, even after repeated cropping, touch-ups, and enhancing. Look for this feature in your current program; not all photo editors are non-destructive.

    Popular nondestructive photo editing software includes Google PicasaApple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. These programs handle files differently, but the original image is preserved.

    Go Ahead - Create JPG Images

    All this means that you CAN have the convenience of mobile scanning and photography and the security of a digital archive. In fact, mobile devices can help you easily build your own family history digital archive.

    When capturing images on your camera, scanner, or mobile phone, always use the highest quality and move the images to your computer hard drive for file renaming before backing up files to the Cloud and/or an external hard drive. 

    Flip-Pal Summer Sale

    The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the only fully-portable scanner that features a unique, gentle flat-bed operation for digitizing fragile family photos, documents and heirlooms. It's really two scanners in one: a traditional glass flat-bed scanner with flip-down cover and a unique see-thru scanner for digitizing oversize and awkward items.

    The see-thru feature is especially helpful for capturing images from photo albums and bound books. Remove the scanner cover, flip the scanner, and position the device to scan your item.

    Use the C-A-N method to add your image to your family history digital archive.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner bundles are on sale this summer. Get ready for your family reunion and the upcoming holiday season. Save $30 on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Picture Keeper Bundle! Coupon code: SAS725


    P.S.: I bought my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner over three years ago and have used it for all kinds of digitizing projects. It's not my only scanner, but it's certainly the most fun to use! Yes, I am an Affiliate; I like it that much!


    iPhoto Library Manager Rescues Aliased Images

    Lately I have been cleaning up my iPhoto test files and moving toward building two or three nice, clean iPhoto Library files.

    When I first moved to the Mac platform, I was reluctant to allow Mac applications full control of my files in the "Package" arrangement. Windows photo programs access images in whatever folders you have placed them and pretty much leave them there until you tell the program to move them, or move them yourself (if you ever do). In contrast, Mac's iPhoto attempts to make all this easy for the user. Out-of-the-box, iPhoto will import photos directly from camera or card into the iPhoto program and place them in one mysterious file called a package. This is called a Managed Library, and aims to discourage the user from moving images around and causing a problem for iPhoto to find the broken link. I wrote about this in a previous post, iPhoto Hides Photos in Plain View.

    On Windows, I experienced just that kind of havoc with various programs, all because I gave in to some vague housekeeping urge and moved images outside of the software. Disaster. Broken links. Much time spent reconnecting.

    The iPhoto package concept tries to avoid just this problem with the default Managed Library.

    However, you can get yourself in the same pickle and end up with broken links in iPhoto too. Mostly, this seems to happen when users opt for a Referenced Library rather than a Managed Library.

    A Referenced Library does have some advantages, particularly for users who want to work with photos with more than one photo editor, for example Adobe Lightroom, iPhoto, and Adobe Photoshop Elements. The iPhoto Referenced Library only indexes photos, leaving them in their original location.

    I thought the Referenced Library idea sounded like it would work better for my needs. I could maintain my old Windows-sensibility folder heirarchy and keep all photos on an external drive.  iPhoto would reference images, not import them to the program. This would make a lean iPhoto Library file containing only aliased images. In addition, I could easily access any images I wanted to work with in Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop Elements.

    To change the default Managed Library to a Referenced Library, I opened the iPhoto Preferences Advanced window and unchecked the importing option "Copy items to the iPhoto Library." Images would now be indexed (or referenced) not imported. The image would  be visible, editable, save-able, but not reside inside the Library package. Since I was new to iPhoto and still not sure how much I would like the editing, keywording tools, etc, I thought this was a good solution.

    Denise Barrett Olson, at the Moultrie Creek Gazette, wrote a great series of iPhoto posts that encouraged my keywording and photo organization. The more I worked with iPhoto the more I liked it, until I thought, "Hey, why don't I just use it like it is supposed to be used?" Import the pictures directly to iPhoto and not worry. I like the "Don't Worry" part. I went back into preferences and checked "Copy items to the iPhoto Library." I got busy and used iPhoto more and more. It is so easy and so fun.

    Now I had about four different iPhoto Library files that needed to be merged; Denise Olson to the rescue with a recomendation for iPhoto Library Manager. This little program allows you to switch between libraries, copy, merge, and split libraries and retain your keywording and organization.


    iPhoto Library Manager also performs a neat little trick I discovered quite by accident -- it finds aliased images and moves the original into a new library.

    My switch from Referenced to Managed Library resulted in both alias and jpg files inside the Library package. I knew this could cause problems if I moved any originals merely referenced by the aliases.

    Mixed up iP lib

    First, I created a new Library and confirmed that the default "Copy items to the iPhoto Library" was checked. This would create a Managed Library.

    Using iPhoto Library Manager, I copied various events into the new Library avoiding the aliased images I planned to work with later. By mistake, I copied a folder that included some aliased pictures, but when I peeked into the iPhoto Library package contents I discovered the original jpg file, not the alias from the former Library, had been imported into the Library package.  iPhoto Library Manager had moved the file using my new Import preferences, and copied not the alias but the original.

    This little trick is helpful if you want to move images from a Referenced LIbrary to a Managed Library, and iPhoto Library Manager does it all without any special instructions. I was glad not to lose my keywords and filenames for the aliased images, and to have them all together with my other photos. In a short time I was working with a new library file and all images were imported with metadata and album organization.

    More on Photo Organization

    iPhoto Library Hides Photos in Plain View

    Comparing Scans on the FlipPal and Epson V500

    It's Okay to Play Favorites (How to decide what to keep)




    iPhoto Library Hides Photos in Plain View

    As a recent PC to Mac user, I have been perplexed by the “simplicity” of iPhoto, so I was doubly happy to find Denise Olson’s handy recap on iPhoto – Photo Organization at the Moutrie Creek Gazette. Denise clearly describes the importing and all-important tagging features of iPhoto in a clear and easy-to-follow article. 

    I have been using Adobe Lightroom 2 for my genealogy photo project, but wanted to revisit my options now that I can use iPhoto on my new iMac. I need batch keywording, which both programs can handle, but I also like a lot of control over where my photos “live” on my hardware. 

    My Lightroom library lives on an external hard drive, and I’ve discovered that my iPhoto Library can live there too! The major difference is that my Lightroom library consists of a series of nicely organized nested folders; with iPhoto, all I could see was one file labeled “iPhoto Library.” Kinda scary for a PC user. Where’s the stuff?

    No problem. By holding down the Control key on the Mac, while clicking the iPhoto Library icon, and selecting “Show Package Contents” the Library opens its doors. Select the Originals folder and you will see nested folders labeled by year and date of event. Take note: most discussion board posts (like this one on MacForums) caution strongly against DOING ANYTHING within the iPhoto package contents.

    What you can do, however, is LOOK. And that in itself is revealing, because the iPhoto package is nothing more than folders named by import dates. This is similar structure to my Lightroom dated folders. Whew. Knowing this, I am much more comfortable handing off my photos to iPhoto for management and organization. I can handle the keywording and iPhoto can handle the file. If I need to find a photo independently for some reason (say, I move back to a PC, or I am using a backup and want photos from a single event), I can locate and copy those photos.

    Although I don’t know how much I will be using iPhoto, I am looking forward to trying out its features and easy integration with other Mac applications. 





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