Sunday, April 16, 2017

Adding in Names, Dates, and Places to Your Scans

I recently read somewhere that when a person dies, a whole library is lost too. Think of all the knowledge and experience the person had acquired during their lifetime. Did they pass on any wisdom to  the next generation, including knowledge of their family tree? Hope so.  

Speaking of the library you carry around in your head,  some things will out-live you, so make sure you pass on what you know about your family. Write down and share some of the best stories of you and your family, things you would be happy for your descendants and extended family to know. Along with that should be paper copies of photographs with labels as to who is in the photo, when it was taken, and where it was taken.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." ~ Philippians 4:8

My husband and I enjoy adding to our knowledge of history by attending events at local historical society museums and genealogical libraries. At one such lecture, the speaker, David Jackson, said we should make paper copies of all our history to preserve it as technology changes way too fast. As an example, he asked everyone in the audience if anyone remembered reel-to-reel audio tapes, 8-tracks or VHS video's and nearly all the mature set raised their hands, while most of the youngsters only looked puzzled. Yeah!

However, it is easier to swap information by email with distant relatives and scanned photographs through attachments in email. Before you share, consider adding in names (take care to spell names correctly) and dates to photographs, either with a permanent blue photograph pencil (most hobby stores carry these in the scrapbook or photograph department) before you scan OR digitally enhance  the scan afterwards by using the Paint or photograph editing program that came with your Windows computer package. You can also use Photoshop or any other photograph editing program, but I can't tell you about how to use those other programs as I self-taught myself to use the Windows Paint program that came with my computer and I am happy to share what I know. Be sure to preserve your original photos in acid-free document sleeves, photograph albums  and/or boxes. DO NOT put them in those cheap magnet albums as the "protective" plastic attached to the pages off-gass and will fade your photos. Ask me how I know this! ­čśĺ

This is what the Paint program looks like open. Click on photo to enlarge.

1. To import a scan into the program, click on  "File" and "Open" on the left-hand side of the screen. Select a scan from  "File Explorer > This PC > Picture > Folder"  saved on your computer's hard drive.  Play around with your Paint program. Push buttons and figure out what they do. That's how I learned.

2. You may use the "select" button to crop or delete the scanner bed from the sides of your photographs. You can also resize photographs or rotate them around here also. 

TIP: Create a new photograph from the original by clicking on "File", scroll down to "Save As", find the folder you want to save it in, in "Pictures" on your computer and renaming it before editing. When I save ancestor's photos, I usually name them first with their surname (last name), then a dash or dot - and next, the proper name (first name) and a year date (if I know it)," so the photo at the end of this article of me, would be "Rush-Dolores" in the .PNG file extension or .JPEG format as those seem to be the most used online. 

Keep the original file as a back-up, in case something goes hay-wire in the paint program or you hit the wrong button accidently and the photo goes, poof!, off into cyber-space. Apparently that has happened to quite a few of us. ­čśČ  After you get done with the editing of the second photograph, you'll be saving all the edits you have added to it.

3. The rest of the buttons are the "Tools," "Brushes," "Shapes," "Lines," (gauges thickness of lines), and "Colors" (I wrote an article on my craft blog here on how to figure out the digital color formulas of popular marker colors.)

4. After you have imported your scan into the paint program, click on the "Select," then scroll down to "Transparency" and click on that (I like the transparency as it allows the background to show through the additions to my photographs.) Then move over to the "A" on "Tools", click on it and then move the cursor to a point on your scan to open an "enter" box to add in the information you want (the above sample of my stick figure shows an "enter" box).   You can put the information in anywhere on the photograph, but it's best to stay away from your main focus, usually the face.

I went back up to the tools and chose the font I wanted for the name and date, then went back down to the "enter" box and began typing in the information I wanted to use on the photograph. Since my "photograph" of the stick figure's background was white, I used the contrasting color of black to type in the name and date. But you can choose another color if you so desire, by clicking on the color menu on the toolbar. 

If you decide you want a different font or alpha color, you don't have to erase the current wording (before the dotted enter box disappears). Just highlight the words and change to to the other font or color.  If you make a mistake as you type, you can hit the backwards arrow at the very top of the toolbar to delete it. 

5. If you are happy with everything on the scan, click again on "File," scroll down to "save" and you will have a lovely photograph to share with the relatives through email or at your next family reunion (printed copies). Great-aunt Jane won't have to roll her eyes upwards, tap her cheek with her finger and try to remember who you said that was in the photograph, because the person's name will be right there on the photograph in front of her.

This photograph was taken at the New Santa Fe Historical Society Trails Center after an event there.  Do you see where I placed my name?


  1. I have never used Paint before but I think I just might try it the next time I do a photo of a card I make. I might be able to add a signature below on the card too. So I think this may be of great help to me to refer to now and then

    1. I'm glad you have found the tutorial helpful. If you have any questions, come back and ask me and I'll try to answer them for you if I can.


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