Category Archives: Photos

From the Archives: Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services.

Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services. I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work.  I’ve  been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick. You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled … Read More

From the Archives: Act Now to Save and Store Your Old Photos.

Act Now to Save and Store Your Old Photos. If you’re like me, you’ve inherited old photo albums with the pictures held down on so called magnetic pages. The trouble with these albums  is that the adhesive used and the plastic liners damage the photos over time. Removing the photos is a priority. I went looking for help and boiled my research down to these seven essential steps. Step 1. Before attempting any photo removal make certain to scan digitally  each album page so that should a … Read More

My Top 10 Posts of 2010.

In the past twelve months these are the posts that have ranked as the most popular with  readers.  If you’ve missed some of these, now’s  your chance to catch up over the holidays. Enjoy!

  1. How Much Should You Pay A Personal Historian?
  2. Your Photo Restoration Resource List.
  3. 15 Great Memoirs Written by Women.
  4. 5 Print-On-Demand Sites You’ll Want to Consider.
  5. #1 Secret to Getting More Clients.
  6. 5 Top Sites for Free Online Videography Training.
  7. How to Interview Someone Who Is Terminally Ill: Part One.
  8. How to Salvage a Damaged Audio Cassette.
  9. Warning: Using Copyright Music Without Permission Is Illegal.
  10. How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable.

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From The Archives: Don’t Pass Up This Keepsake.

Don't Pass Up This Keepsake. Keepsake by Marilyn Koop is a must-have for your library.  A friend  gave me a copy the other day and I’ve been totally captivated by it. Each page contains a photograph of time-worn hands cradling a loved keepsake. On the page opposite is a cameo history of the person, a brief story behind the keepsake, and words of advice. There are twenty portraits in the collection. All save two were of people living at the Wellington Terrace, an assisted car … Read More

Act Now to Save and Store Your Old Photos.

If you’re like me, you’ve inherited old photo albums with the pictures held down on so called magnetic pages. The trouble with these albums  is that the adhesive used and the plastic liners damage the photos over time. Removing the photos is a priority. I went looking for help and boiled my research down to these seven essential steps.

Step 1. Before attempting any photo removal make certain to scan digitally  each album page so that should a photo be damaged, you can still recover it from the scanned image.

Step 2. Select a practice photo that has no value to you or is badly out of focus. A word of caution. When removing  photos be sure not to curl or peel them back as this could cause permanent damage.

Step 3. Use a piece of dental floss and carefully pull it under one corner of the photo. Using a sawing motion slowly work your way to the opposite corner. With any luck the photo should pop right off.

Step 4. If  a photo is glued so tightly that floss won’t work, then try one of the following removal methods:

a. Use un-do, an adhesive remover that won’t harm photos. It comes with an applicator that allows you to slip the remover under the photo.

b. Place the album page in your freezer for a few minutes. The glue will become brittle, making it easier to remove the photo.

c. Use a hair dryer set on low heat. Run it back and forth on the back of the page holding the photo. Be careful not to overheat the photo as this could damage it. Once the glue has softened, quickly and carefully remove the picture.

d. Place the photo album page in a microwave. Make certain there are no metallic pieces. Start the microwave and run it for five seconds. Check the photo and keep using five  second blasts until the glue softens and the photo comes free.

Step 5. Take your photos and where possible  write on the back the following information: the names of people in the photo, their ages,  the year, the location, and the event. Avoid using a ball point pen as this could damage the photo. Use a soft lead pencil or an acid free pen available from a craft store.

Step 6. Digitally scan your photos, store them on your hard drive, and than upload them to a web based site like Flickr or Picasa. That way if your hard drive crashes, you won’t lose your digitized photos.

Step 7. Store your photos in cardboard photo boxes that pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). You can obtain such boxes at Archival Methods, Carr McLean, Light Impressions, Gaylord, and University Products. If you have a large collection, layer an acid free sheet of paper between each photo. Photos should be kept in a cool room with low humidity. That generally means keeping them out of attics and basements.

Photo by iStockphoto

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How to Identify Old Family Photographs.

In a previous article,  How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable, I showed the  photo below from my personal collection.

from Dan Curtis photo collection

I suggested that an interesting workshop exercise would be to make copies of this photo, hand them out to the participants, and then  have them write  what they thought was the story behind the  photo. After people shared stories, I’d reveal the actual story. I haven’t yet used this exercise  but for those of you who read last week’s post and are curious  to know the real story, here it is.

The man second from the right in the group is my father. It was 1941 and he was sailing from England back to Canada on a merchant ship, the Port Freemantle. He was a radio operator and  navigator with the Ferry Command. The men surrounding him were fellow airmen who had recently flown bombers to England from Canada as part of the war effort. What I find interesting is how formally the men are dressed with their ties and jackets. You wouldn’t see that today!

All of this is a way of introducing you to the wonderful world of photo identification. This is fascinating and highly skilled work and no one does it better than Maureen Taylor, also known as The Photo Detective. The Wall Street Journal has called her “the nation’s foremost historical photo detective”. If you attended last year’s Association of Personal Historians conference, you would have had the privilege of hearing and meeting Maureen in person. If you’re not familiar with her work, check out her blog and her articles in Family Tree Magazine. If you have an old photo whose history is long lost, you can send your mystery photo to Maureen and for a fee she’ll work on identifying it.

For those of you who want to do it yourself,  here are some resources to get you started.

***Be sure not to miss Cyndi’s List: Photographs and Memories. It’s an amazing collection of sites that will keep you busy for a long, long time!***

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How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable.

I always use some short, entertaining exercises to help break the ice and add a little fun and variety to my life story workshops. If you’re looking for something, consider some of those on my list. Please let me know in the comments below if you have some other exercises you’ve used and would like to share .

  • The six-word memoir. Made popular by Smith Magazine, the idea is to have participants use six-words to capture their life stories. I usually hand out small  2″ x 3″ cards for  people to use. After some sharing of  mini memoirs, I collect the cards and put them in a box for a prize draw at the end of my workshop.
  • The story behind my name. I divide the class into pairs if it’s large and have each partner  share the story behind his or her name. After about 15 minutes I gather the group together and have people share their “name” stories. It’s always a crowd pleaser!
  • A favorite object. Everyone has something they treasure.  I bring a favorite item of mine to the workshop. I  talk about what it is, how I acquired it, and why it’s special to me. Then I have the class break into pairs and have each partner describe a favorite object. After 15 or 20 minutes,  I ask for some  sharing of  “favorite object” stories.
  • A peak life experience. I describe to the class a peak moment in my life. I provide as much detail as possible – where it was, when it happened,who was there, and how I felt. I then have the workshop participants find a partner and have each  share with one another a peak experience. After 15 to 20 minutes, I have  the group  reassemble and ask for volunteers to share a peak moment.
  • A special place. This can be from any period in one’s life.  I recall a huge hollowed out tree stump in the forest near our home. This was my special place when I was a boy. It was off the beaten track and known only to me. I would go there when I was feeling adventurous or when I was troubled. I ask my workshop participants to share with a partner a special place in their lives. Later I ask for some individuals to share a description of a special place.
  • A photo story. I’ll admit that I haven’t tried this exercise yet. I dreamed it up recently and can’t wait to use it in my next workshop.  I have a photo in my personal collection that you can see below.

    Photo Dan Curtis collection

    Here’s the exercise. I’ll hand out a copy of the photo to each  workshop participant and ask them to take 20 minutes to write a story behind the photo. I won’t give any clues as to the real story. Then I’ll ask various people to read out their stories. I think there’ll probably be some interesting variety. To conclude I’ll tell the real story of the photo. Curious? Well, you’ll just have to come to my workshop. ;-) Or you could check out my post on Wednesday, February 10th.

Photo by iStockphoto

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Get Help Now With These Photo Restoration Services.

I find restoring a damaged photograph to its original splendor satisfying work.  I’ve  been using ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5 which came bundled with my Canon Pixma color printer. There is a newer version PhotoStudio 6 for US$80. Click here for details. It’s not as professional or advanced as Adobe Photoshop but it’s easy to use and does the trick.

You can have someone else restore your photos if you’re not a “Do-It-Yourselfer”. I’ve assembled a partial list of companies that provide those services. I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t vouch for their quality. Prices vary depending on the amount of work required. If you use a restoration company and are pleased with their work, let me know in the comment box below.

For those of you who are serious about doing your own restoration, I’ve listed two online courses and a couple of books to get you started.

Photo Restoration Services

  • PicFix Provide price quotes within 24 hrs.

Photo Restoration Courses

  • Photo restoration basics: preserve your family photos. Free, online classes, from HP available 24/7. “Would you like to restore your old, faded photos, edit new photos or learn how to safely store and display your current ones? Learn why photos deteriorate, and how you can rescue them by scanning and making quick fixes using Microsoft® Windows Live Photo Gallery, Snapfish and touchscreen printers. You’ll also learn advanced retouching techniques in Adobe Photoshop Elements and get tips for printing, displaying and backing up your photos.”
  • Lynda.com “Helping you learn, master, and apply digital tools and techniques.”  Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals Author: Deke McClelland

Photo Restoration Books

  • Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd Edition). “Whether you’re a professional photographer or the family shutterbug, you can’t afford to miss the third edition of the now classic Photoshop Restoration & Retouching. Katrin Eismann and co-author Wayne Palmer have reviewed, updated, and revised every single technique to address the most important features in Adobe Photoshop CS2.”

Photo by Mike Richardson

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How to Bring Your Digital Photos to Life.

photo story 3

I’m constantly on the outlook for innovative ways to record life stories. I recently came across Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows XP. It’s free but you must be running an “activated” version of either: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. You can download Photo  Story 3 here.

I think this is a great program for honoring  special events  such as wedding anniversaries, graduation or retirement.  Here’s a brief summary of what it can do:

Create slideshows using your digital photos. With a single click, you can touch-up, crop, or rotate pictures. It’s that easy! Add stunning special effects, soundtracks, and your own voice narration to your photo stories. Then, personalize them with titles and captions. Small file sizes make it easy to send your photo stories in an e-mail. Watch them on your TV, a computer, or a Windows Mobile–based portable device. (source Microsoft)

For a Beginner’s Guide to Photo Story 3 click here.

If you’ve used Microsoft Photo Story 3 for capturing some aspect of a life story, I’d love to hear from you. Tell me how you used it and what you think of the the program.

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Celebrate A Special Anniversary with A Photo History.

photo montageIf you want  photo tips,  DIY photo projects or news on the latest camera gear,  go to Photojojo. It’s a great site. One of their ideas, a photo history, is a novel approach for personal historians to consider. For a special anniversary or birthday, a photo history of the year the event occurred would be a wonderful gift.

Start by going to Google Image Search or Flickr and search for images from the year in question. Also look for events that happened in that year. Find out what cars people were driving. Who were the movie stars? What were the newest kitchen appliances? These will give you leads in your search for other photos.

After you have a good selection of pictures, you can organize them in any number of ways such as a Photo Book, Photo Blog, or Photo Collage.

Here’s a small sample of Flickr photos from 1939, the year my parents were married:

Phoenix car dealer, 1939

Phoenix car dealer, 1939

Gone With The Wind, 1939 - Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

Gone With The Wind, 1939 - Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

1939 Kodak Brownie

1939 Kodak Brownie

Collage photo by Cactus

Gone With The Wind Flickr photo Michael Heilemann

Kodak Brownie photo by Zoë

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