How To Edit Photo Scans Using Free Software: GIMP

How to scan photos using GIMP

If You're Getting Photo Scans That Look Worse Than The Original, Then Here's A Better Way To Edit And Fix Your Photo Scans...

Read this, and you'll learn...

  • Top 3 problems to fix when photo scanning
  • Fix faded colours and make colours look more natural
  • Remove dust and scratches without removing important detail
  • Adjust exposure levels so your scans aren't too bright or dark
  • To do all this with free editing software, Download GIMP free, here...

Ready? Grab a hot beverage (or a cold beer), and let's go!

1. Why Use GIMP And Not Scanning Software Like Digital ICE?

Use image editing software to fix your photo scans

Oh, you're not a graphic designer? You don't have $1200 to buy Photoshop?

But remember, these photos are your only copy. If you are going to take the time to archive them digitally you may as well do it right the first time. And if you learn how to fix ONE photo, then the rest will be easy.

And I'll be right beside you, showing you how. Even if you have never opened GIMP, I try to make my tips as easy to use as possible.

Anyway, enough talking. Let's get to work...

2. Get A Natural Photo Scan

Before you scan your first photo, you'll need to setup your scanner correctly. This is the easy part. Load your photos (see your manual on how to do this), and hit the "Preview" button.

Now, all I want you to do is to get a "natural photo scan".

What's a natural photo scan? And why get one?

A natural scan is where you DO NOT use any of your scanner's features. So no Dust Removal, no Color Fix, no Digital ICE.

Why?

You want your scanner to scan as much DETAIL as possible. Yes, this means everything like dust, scratches, faded colours, minute debris. All of it.

Detail is VERY important. When you put your photo scan on your HDTV, you want to see the colour of your grandmothers eyes.

And when you use features like Dust Removal and Color fix, it will REMOVE detail. It will mess up the colour of your grandmothers eyes, and make them look less sharp. Digital ICE doesn't know the difference between a dust speck and the whites of a person's eye.

Here's a quick snap-shot of how I setup my scanner's software:

How to setup your scanner to get a natural scan

So, leave those enhance buttons alone. Just setup your scanner's resolution and get as a natural photo scan as you can.

3. Remove Dust and Scratches

You may have heard of Digital Ice. Well, Digital Ice actually does not work on photo scans. Your scanner may have something else to remove dust and scratches, but NOT use it. It will take away detail.

Here is a photo scan with dust removal used, and one where no dust removal was used...

Check out how Digital ICE removes dust AND important detail

You lose detail when you rely on you scanner to remove dust and scratches.

The best way to remove dust and scratches is to do it manually. This way you only take away the what you want and not detail. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to remove dust and scratches from your photo scans...

4. Fix Colours That Are Faded, Flat, Or That Don't Look Right

You know, even if you have a brand new photo, when you scan it, it's also going to scan "colour cast". Look at your photo. You'll notice it has a shine or gloss to it.

When you scan your photo, your scanner is also going to scan that gloss. This is colour cast: the glossy, shiny, hazy look that makes your photo scan look faded.

So even if you have a photo that's only 2 years old, it'll look faded. Here is what I mean...

Even the shiney gloss coming off your photo will be scanned too, leaving a flat looking scan

Colour cast will make your photo scans look faded (left image).

So how do you get the colours back to their original luster? Check out...

5. Fix Exposure Levels So Your Images Aren't Too Dark Or Bright

The exposure is how dark or light your digital photo is. Another problem with scanning is sometimes it will make your photo scan too dark or too light. Have look...

On the left is an over expose photos scan... which looks blown out and too bright

Here is an under exposed photo scan (left) and the same scan fixed (right).

On the left is an under exposed photos scan... which is too dar

Here is an under exposed photo scan (left) with the same scan fixed (right).

Make sure you do this step AFTER you fix the colour. If you fix exposure first, and then try to fix the colour, your exposure might go all out of whack.

And you can skip this step. If you feel your exposure is not too dark too bright then skip it. After a few edits you will get a hang of it and you will be able to use your own discretion. Here is how to fix exposure...

Table Of Contents: How To Edit Photo Scans Using GIMP


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