Scanning Your Archival Photos

When archival photos are converted to digital versions, they can easily be shared, printed, and saved for the ages. In this program we examine the possibilities for using a scanner with a computer to archive family and community photographs, and in the process discuss resolution and image file formats. We also take a look at using photo editing programs to remove imperfections and improve the color, tone, and contrast of the scanned image.

Below you will find links to online resources, free downloads of the handouts we use in our programs, and links to Amazon for books, software, and hardware where appropriate. Using these links to purchase these items benefits Upper Valley Digital and helps us to continue to provide the free information and handouts you can find here.

Online Resources

Adobe (download free trial version of Photoshop Elements)
How-to scan articles from Microsoft
Flickr photo sharing site
Picasaweb photo sharing site (Google)
VueScan software

Program Handouts

Scanning Archival Photos[pdf]


Photoshop Eements is the program that I use in my demonstrations of scanning and digital image editing. It isn't as full-featured as Adobe Photoshop, but it does pretty much everything I need to edit and improve scans and digital images. You can download a free trial from Adobe (link above), but be forwarned - the download is over 1 gigabyte and even on a fast connection it can take several hours.


Sometimes the best reference is a book that you can peruse, mark up, read on the bus, etc. Here are some book references that cover a range of information, from beginning using a scanner to the fine points of using the VueScan software (a professional scanning software package that is surprisingly affordable (link above)).


We've had very good luck with the Canon LIDE Scanners. They use LEDs for the light source and some need no power supply, only a connection to your computer. Models to consider are Canon CanoScan LiDE110 Color Image Scanner (4507B002), Canon CanoScan LiDE 700F Color Image Scanner (3297B002) (which has a slide/negative attachment), and Canon CanoScan 9000F Color Image Scanner (which scans slides and negatives at 9600 dpi).

Dedicated slide and negative scanners are much more expensive, but do a great job. Two options (among many available) are listed below. Stay away from the $99 slide scanners you see advertised in magazines...