How to make your wedding slide show look AMAZING, Part 1 – Scanning Old Photos

Slide shows aren’t as common as they were a few years ago, but I still see quite a few during the wedding season. Most often, they are put together by a friend or family member and while they are doing the best they can, sometimes the presentation isn’t everything it could have been.

Your source material is the foundation of your slide show. You will be using photos from old family albums, your personal photos from your digital camera and yes, even photos pulled from facebook and other social media sites.

For Part 1, I will be talking about scanning some of your old family photos. Some may be a bit faded, maybe a corner ripped off or has other surface damage and even with all of it’s flaws, it deserves a place in your slide show because it is the only photo you have of a friend, relative or pet.

There are a few things that you can do to make that photo look much better when you put it up on that screen.

Let’s start with scanning the photos. Many multifunction machines have the ability to function as a scanner. The photo for the post was scanned on a Brother MFC-7860. It is the type of multi-function machine found in many homes and small business offices.

There are too many programs that can be used to use with your scanner to discuss here, however, they will all have a few common settings:

The first one to consider is resolution. My scanning software gave me the following dpi options (dots per inch), 100, 150, 200, 300, 400 and 600. Generally, you should choose the highest dpi available to you. Once you exceed 600 dpi on a 4 x 6 photo, you will not see too much improvement.

So what does the difference look like? How can I tell if I have scanned at a high enough resolution? The photo on the far left was scanned at 150 dpi, the middle one at 300 dpi and the one on the far right was scanned at 600 dpi

Examples of a scan at 150, 300 and 600 dpi

Three examples of a photo scanned at different resolution

Alright, what’s going on here? They all look pretty much the same don’t they? The reason for this is that they are being viewed in a very small format. If you were to enlarge them to even the size of your computer screen, you would begin to see the difference, so let’s do that. The next example shows 150 dpi compared to 600 dpi and fairly represents the image as it might be seen on a 6 foot screen.

Photo of two Bobcat eyes when enlarged from 150 and 600 dpi scans

Comparing enlarged scans from 150 dpi and 600 dpi scans

The 150 dpi scan on the left is heavily pixelated and this is what often ends up in a slide show. It is true, that it may not be quite as apparent from 40 feet away, however, spending the extra time to scan your old photos at a higher resolution will provide you with a solid base for the next step, editing your photos to look their best.

My next blog post will cover color correction, cropping, and brightness and contrast adjustments.

With a great deal of time and energy, perhaps even money to purchase professional software, you can achieve great results by tackling your slide show yourself. Wedding professionals you are already dealing with have the expertise and tools to deliver outstanding results with only a small effort on your part. Whenever possible, consider hiring a professional that will create an experience that make your guests say Wow!, that was awesome!


About Patrick Smiley Weddings

I have been entertaining at weddings in the Canadian Rockies for over 2o years and I can't imagine myself anywhere else. OK, Hawaii would be nice too!
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