QromaScan: A New, Smarter Way to Scan Photos

Here is a simple scanner to help you organize those boxes of old photos you’ve got gathering dust in the attic. One caveat: it only works with an iPhone. Oh, and another caveat: it isn’t available yet.

QromaScan is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. If successful, the developers plan to start shipping in July. It looks like they may be successful. The developers have a goal of $20,000 to fund production. As of today, with 19 days left to go in the 30-day Kickstarter campaign, they have already raised more than half of the amount needed.

30,000 NYPD Crime Photographs Will Go Online

I like the idea of placing all government information information and photographs online but must admit I am not too thrilled with this announcement. Some of these photos can be gruesome.

Stage Line “accident” December 6, 1919

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has photographed crime scenes almost since the technology was available. Some of these are scenes of traffic accidents, parades, or public events. Others are crime scenes. A new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will support the digitization of around 30,000 of these photographs from 1914 to 1975, making them viewable to the public for the first time. The goal is to eventually place all of the 2.2 million photographs, videos, audio files, and other material online.

Rare 1928 Photos of England in Color

Or should that be spelled “Colour?”

In the late 1920s and early 1930s National Geographic sent photographer Clifton R. Adams to England to record its farms, towns and cities, and its people at work and play. Adams happened to record it all in color using the Autochrome process, something that was radically new at the time. Prior to 1928, many people had only seen black-and-white photographs.

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Free: Adobe Photoshop Express

Perhaps the best bargain for improving digital photographs is Adobe Photoshop Express. It works with built-in cameras on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Android devices, Windows Phone, and Windows tablet, as well as with the online photo service.

The full version of Adobe Photoshop can cost you hundreds of dollars, but the Photoshop Express app is free.

To be sure, Photoshop Express contains only a small subset of the features available in Photoshop or even in the cheaper Photoshop Elements. However, the capabilities of the free Photoshop Express are still very impressive. The app appears to be designed primarily for editing pictures snapped by a cell phone’s or tablet’s built-in camera. According to the Adobe web site, Photoshop Express includes the following:

Easy touch-ups

Are You Storing Family Photographs in Lignin-Free Storage Containers?

Your newer photos are digital but you may still have photos from your pre-digital days. Old family photographs often are family heirlooms and need to be stored carefully in order to protect them. Sure, you can scan them to preserve them forever but you certainly won’t throw the original copies away, will you? The originals need to be protected for as long as possible.

Many people purchase photo albums or photo storage boxes that are “Archival” or “Photo-Safe” or “Permanent.” Writing in the Practical Archivist Blog, Sally Jacobs points out there is no such thing. She writes, “The term ‘archival’ has been applied so loosely and so inappropriately that it’s no longer used in International Standards for photographic materials.” She tells why lignin-free is important. She also describes a Photographic Activity Test that we all should learn about.

Preserve Your Family Documents and Photos at RootsTech 2015

RootsTech 2015 will be a 3-day event offering more than 200 classes; an expo hall of hundreds of exhibitors and sponsors, including interactive booths to assist in your family history journey; general sessions with well-known and inspiring speakers; and entertaining events at the end of each day. See my earlier article at for details.

One vendor in this year’s exhibits hall, EZ Photo-Scan, is inviting all attendees to bring their family pictures, documents, and any memorabilia that can be digitized, for free scanning on site.

$1,000 Reward Offered for an Historic Photograph – If It Exists

Shawn Adamsson is looking for a photograph taken between 1887 and 1899 of the 19th-century London, Ontario, railway turntable building with locomotives in the shot. Can you help?

How To Preserve Old Photos Without Losing Your Mind

Chris Cummins is a professional photographer who writes a personal blog about photo preservation and a number of other topics as well. He recently published How To Preserve Old Photos Without Losing Your Mind that focuses on simplifying the overwhelming process of turning old family photos into an organized, safe and searchable digital archive with tips for how to preserve the film and paper originals.

The article covers a lot of topics, including:

The Fashions of Our Female Ancestors

Photographer Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910) captured everyday fashion in the early 20th century. He used photographs of friends, family and servants as reference models for his art. He was an illustrator and the chief cartoonist of the English magazine Punch.

According wife Marion’s diary, his photography eventually moved from hobby to obsession. You can see a collection of some of his photographs, all apparently taken from 1905 though 1908 on the streets of Kensington, London, at

Compare Yourself to Your Ancestors’ Photographs

Christine McConnell has pictures of her maternal ancestors, starting with her mother and going back to her great-great-great-grandmother Martha, born in 1821. While looking at their pictures in a photo album, Christine decided she wanted to be in the photographs as well. The Los Angeles-based stylist and photographer worked her visual magic to make that happen. The results are impressive.

In a series of side-by-side tributes, McConnell recreates old images of her family, traveling through her maternal line over the course of two centuries. She arranged her hair and found clothing that closely matched the photographs and then took a picture of herself. She now displays her new photos beside each ancestor. Here is one example:

57,000 Photo Studio Negatives in Richland, WA to be Destroyed

Get them while you can! Much genealogical information will be lost unless it is claimed now by an interested party.

Negatives from photos shot by professional photographers between 1950 to 2007y donated to the REACH Center in Richland, Washington, from 1950-2007, are being deaccessioned. All unclaimed negatives will be destroyed. The center has extended the deadline to December 5 after receiving more than 500 requests for photo negatives within two days of a Monday Tri-City Herald story about the negatives.

View the Only Video of Mark Twain in Existence

Thomas Edison once said, “An average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person, he generally selects Mark Twain.”

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, would have been 179 years old yesterday. Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, but spent his later years in Redding, Connecticut. The only known film of Mark twain is available on YouTube at

Identifying Subjects of Photos of Virginians and North Carolinians 1890 to 1922

For the last four years, New York researcher and photographer Sarah Stacke has been trying to identify people in anonymous portraits taken of Southerners at the dawn of a new century. The images include both White and Black Americans. Given the locations and dates, we can assume that many of the Black Americans were former slaves. Sarah Stacke would like to identify all of the subjects before their names become lost to history. Can you help?

The pictures were taken by little known photographer, Hugh Mangum. He traveled across Virginia and North Carolina from 1890 to 1922. Rare for the time, Mangum photographed both blacks and whites, sometimes sitting them right after the next. Mangum died of influenza at the age of 44 and left little record of his clients.

California State Library Digitizes 3-D Images from 1800s

The California State Library is digitizing about 10,000 old sepia-toned 3-D photos – most from the 1800s. Officially known as stereoscopic photos, they were a popular turn-of-the-century parlor activity, shared like postcards and viewed through hand-held viewers that turned the side-by-side double photos into a single 3-D image.

Taken by both professional and amateur photographers, the photos subjects ranged from majestic outdoor settings like Yosemite’s Half Dome to news-style photos of major events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. They also captured everyday portraits of Americans at work and play, from Gold Rush miners to tourists visiting “Toyland” at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Photographs of Citizens of London in 1877

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Life was often difficult for our ancestors, as shown in pictures of Dickensian poverty on the streets of London. The images show the grim reality of life in Victorian London.

The photographs of working class people, captured by photojournalist John Thomson in 1877, show the backbreaking daily grind which was a reality for the capital’s citizens. You can read more and view the pictures at

Your Picture in an Automobile

Sometimes we take certain things for granted. We often don’t stop to realize what life was like for our ancestors. We may have skills that our ancestor did not possess. Today I stumbled across some old photographs that made me stop and think.

In 1905 the automobile was a novelty. Very few people had ever driven one, much less owned one. After looking at a couple of photographs, I realized that most people did not know how to drive in those days.

Today most adults are familiar with driving automobiles. However, 100 or more years ago, that was not true. In fact, the idea of someone driving an automobile was so unique that commercial photographers of the time often took advantage of the automobile to sell more photographs.

Library of Congress Offers a New Collection of Depression Era Photographs

The Library of Congress has a great collection of photographs from the Great Depression that has recently been updated. The collection now contains more than 175,000 portraits of America between the years 1935 and 1945, taken by photographers of the government’s Farm Security Administration. The photographs also include all known data about the subject(s) in each photo, including the date and location of the photograph and also the name of the photographer.

Click on the images to view larger versions.

Thanks to a new project known as Photogrammar from Yale University, viewers will have a much easier time exploring the photographs. There’s a map that displays the images by county and another that shows where each picture was taken and by which photographer. There’s also an interactive that allows viewers to sort the photos by theme (e.g. “war” or “religion”) and then browse from there. Other tools are still in the works.

Archive of pre-Holocaust Jewish Images in Eastern Europe Digitized

A vast archive of photographs of pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewish life is being made available to the public and researchers. The International Center of Photography in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., announced the joint creation of a digital database to facilitate access to photographer Roman Vishniac’s archive.

Vishniac was a Russian-born Jew who moved to Berlin in 1920. He documented the rise of Nazi power and its effect on Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe. The International Center of Photography said it believes the project “represents a new model for digital archives” and it’s excited to bring Vishniac’s collection to a wider audience.

Use Crowdsourcing to Identify the People in Photographs

Jeff Phillips discovered a big pile of funky-smelling Eastman Kodak boxes containing dozens of projection trays filled with Kodachrome slides at a consignment antique shop near St. Louis. The 30 boxes contained about 1,100 slides. Only two of the slides were labeled. One said “Edna” and another was labeled as “Harry, 1958.” Those are clues but do not provide much to go on. Jeff decided to identify the people in the slides. Jeff then embarked on a crowdsourced search to identify the people in the photos by using social media. He received hundreds of suggestions from Facebook users.

Make Your own Pinhole Camera

Take a step back in time! You might want to help your grandchildren build this so that you can explain “this is how we used to do it in the good old days!” Then again, maybe not. They may think you are older than you really are. Well, it will also teach them about physics.

A pinhole camera is a simple camera that uses a single small aperture – a pinhole – instead of a lens. As light passes through this hole, an image is exposed onto the film loaded inside the camera. Exposure times are typically longer than with a normal lensed camera, due to the aperture being so much smaller. This means that pinhole cameras can typically take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of hours to expose a photograph. Because of these long exposures the shutter is usually manually operated. Pinhole cameras were very popular back when photography first became popular for in-home use.


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