A Stitch in Time Saves Images
Scanning 4” x 6” pictures with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner is quite easy, even if the pictures are glued into the old albums like my family’s pictures all seem to be. But what do you do if you are faced with a picture similar to the one above—20” x 6”, old, cracked and curled from being rolled-up for so many years?
I can’t tell you how to get it to relax from its rolled state—there are archival experts to help you with that, but I will take you step by step through scanning this photo in multiple overlapping scans, then using Flip-Pal EasyStitch to put it back together into a single digital image.
EasyStitch is simple to use, but the computer program itself is quite sophisticated. It uses pattern matching on all of the scans of your original. It matches the seams flawlessly so your large photo, quilt, document or sketch can be put back together into a whole digital image. All you need to do is make the overlapping scans!
Getting Started – Preparing to Scan
So the first thing you do is pop the lid off your Flip-Pal mobile scanner. It may be a little harder to do the first couple of times you try it. If you look closely, you can see small finger indents on each side near where the lid attaches to the scanner. Just easily pry them up.
Then flip the scanner over. If you look at the bottom window, you will see lines etched a little more than half an inch from the edges. These are your overlap guides. You don’t have to be exact when you are scanning, but you certainly do need to have some kind of overlapping pattern that EasyStitch can use to knit your scans back together!
Find a clean flat surface large enough to lay your photo, art piece, document or quilt so that it is stretched out completely. You may even want to weigh down the corners to make sure it will lay as flat as possible. Note: If you are scanning a framed picture, in most cases you won’t have to take the picture out of the frame to scan it, especially if it is close to the front glass.
The “Fun Flip” Part – Capturing Image Segments
Now, comes the “Fun Flip” part! Turn on the scanner. Start somewhere on the image where you can keep track of your scanning progress (see the example below), flip-over the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and press the green “scan” button. Watch as the scan bar goes to the opposite end of the scanner. When it starts its traverse back “home,” then it is safe to move the scanner to the next area of your original to scan.
Lining up for your next scan doesn’t have to be exact or even in order. Before you move the scanner from its first position, note where the far edge etched line on the back of the scanner cuts across the picture. Then move the scanner to the near edge etched line. This video can quickly show you how it is done:
Click here to access the Stitching Scans Together with Flip-Pal mobile scanner video.
These scans can then be stitched together to form one image. You can use the lines etched in the bottom window to align the overlaps.
Stitching the Image Segments Together
Now that you have done your overlapping scans, take the SD card out of your scanner. Just a quick push towards the scanner will cause it to pop out far enough to grab it. Put it in your computer. If you don’t have a slot for reading the SD card, then firmly push it into the SD to USB adaptor that is provided with the Flip-Pal and then put the USB adaptor into any USB slot on your computer.
Next, start the EasyStitch software:
- Windows: Start the Flip-Pal Toolbox and then click Stitch Scans.
- Mac: On the desktop double-click the Flip-Pal disk icon. In the Finder window, double-click on the Mac Folder. Then double-click EasyStitch.
The Flip-Pal EasyStitch dialog appears:
Click Select Files to Stitch and the Select Pictures to Stitch dialog appears. Select the images to be stitched.
To easily select all the scans for a single large original, select the first scan (e.g., SCAN0195 above) then press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard, then click the last scan in the series (e.g., SCAN0204 above). That will select all in the series between the selections.
To pick individual scans, hold down the Control (or Apple) Key while clicking on each image that you want to select.
Next, click Open at bottom of the Select Pictures to Stitch dialog. The program automatically stitches the images together into a single image.
A Stitching Tip
Here’s a little tip that I use to help me decide which scans should go into a single image. I always do a scan of my Flip-Pal mobile scanner carry case between each set of photo/page scans. That way (as you can see above) it is easy to select only the images between the carry case scans!
The Results: A Stitched Image
EasyStitch displays the stitched image using your default photo editing or viewing program, and automatically saves the stitched image in the same folder as the originals with the name Stitch[first image]-[last image].jpg, using the names of the first and last individual images used in the stitching process.
In the example above, you may notice the “ragged edges.” If your default photo viewing program is also a photo editor, use it at this point to crop, rotate or make other edits to the image. Otherwise, use a photo editor, such as Photoshop Elements, at any point in the future.
Another tip: as a best practice, save the photo with a unique name by clicking File, then Save As or Copy As.
Image Stitching in a Snap
So there you have it . . . a quick tour of stitching images scanned by the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. The process is simple and, as you can see, you don’t need to line up images or do any math to create a stitched image. Just select the individual images and let the Flip-Pal EasyStitch software do the rest!
Photo: Civilian Conservation Corps #671, Yarth Camp, Rapid River, Michigan, July 12, 1933. Used by permission of M. Bird.
How was your last family reunion spent? I’m sure you had a great spread of food, including favorite family dishes, some activities for the kids and perhaps even a family tree chart or a display highlighting the family’s history. Even if there wasn’t a book or binder with all the genealogy information for family to share, I’m sure there were plenty of conversations about parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—all of whom have passed on.
Family Gatherings and Missed Opportunities
How many family reunions have you attended where you wished you could somehow capture all of the information that was being shared? Cousins swapping names of relatives, correcting each other as to birth dates and family stories. And what about photos being passed around and the conversations sparked by seeing family members in days gone by?
Start Planning Now!
As the “keeper of the family history,” as we genealogists are often known (and there’s always one in each family), we’re always looking for those opportunities to collect and gather more information.
I find it is easier to take a proactive approach to facilitating the sharing of family history information at family events. This means plan ahead! Also, to keep family members engaged and interested, I try to mix it up and take a different approach than the usual phone call or email telling family members to “bring stuff” to the reunion.
Here are some ideas:
- Set up a family history scan site at the reunion. Have you attended genealogy conferences where companies like Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com) offer to scan your photos and documents? Why not use a Flip-Pal mobile scanner (http://flip-pal.com) to make it easy to scan photos right at the reunion? Ask family members to bring items for scanning and explain how the process will work. Create an instruction sheet so everyone will know how items will be scanned, where they will be stored and how they can be accessed later. If Ancestry can do it, so can you!
- Capture names and dates for photos. Don’t forget that the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit makes it easy to “annotate” photos without harming the original. Use it to write names, dates and places related to the photo before scanning.
- Use family group sheets to collect information. Rather than have family members send you long written notes and narratives with the latest updates as to births, deaths, etc., why not send them blank family group sheet forms ahead of time? They can fill them out and then submit them at the reunion. In fact, set up a contest with a drawing as an incentive to ensure the forms are submitted. Also, make sure you have a set of blank forms on hand at the reunion for folks to fill out. Check out the list of free family history forms at Cyndi’s List (http://www.cyndislist.com/free-stuff/printable-charts-and-forms/).
- Get the children involved! Create an activity using copies of family photos and small cards with names, dates and locations where the kids have to match the photo with the correct information card. Here’s another idea: create a blank family tree and have them place the photos on the tree in the correct arrangement.
- Use memory prompts to get great stories. Don’t rely on open-ended questions to gather family history information; instead, create printed “prompts” that will inspire family members to reach the depths of their memory for those family stories and facts about ancestors. Cover all the bases including school days, first date, first car, first job, weather, clothes, shopping and more. It would be fun to have a Memory Jar where someone has to reach in and pick a prompt and then give his or her answer!
- Remember those old photo booths? Why not set up a fun photo booth or even a video interview booth to capture images and stories from family members at the reunion. Create a sign-up sheet so families can reserve a time for their close up!
- Create an email newsletter and notify family members. Do you remember receiving holiday newsletters from family members at the end of the year? Why not create a similar newsletter either online or using e-mail. There are plenty of options including free programs like MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com), or just use your current email program. Stick to a monthly schedule and help maintain the excitement about the reunion!
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Can Help
There is a lot to do and lots of fun right? It is never too early to get started on being the “family history fun facilitator” for your next event. The holiday season will be here sooner than you think and of course don’t forget next summer’s family reunion! Get started now by scanning your previous family photos, important family history documents and even military medals and other 3-dimensional mementos.
Judy H., shared her experience as a recent Flip-Pal customer:
"I am going to a family reunion next month and doing a presentation of family pictures dating back to the mid 1800's. I have hundreds of pictures that I would have had to scan with my printer and then save and I was dreading doing it because of the countless hours it would've taken me. I received an email about the Flip-Pal and then went online, checked it out and bought it. A few nights ago, as I was watching TV, I scanned over 200 pictures in a couple of hours...this product is amazing!!! I have another couple hundred to scan and am actually looking forward to doing it now. Thanks for such an awesome product!"
Make sure you have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner ready to capture all those photos and documents right on-site at the reunion. Believe me—folks may promise you they’ll scan the items themselves and post them online or email them, but once they get home it is so easy to get wrapped up in other projects and guess what? A year goes by, the next family reunion arrives and the process starts all over.
Many of us have spent hours, days and months scanning precious photos and documents only to lose them when a computer crashes, a backup system fails or a natural disaster strikes.
In the past, when most photographs existed in paper form, there were several ways to obtain a copy—a reprint from the negative, a photocopy, etc. Now, when a hard drive fails, those digital images are often gone for good.
The Picture Keeper—A Snap To Save!
I have just started working with an easy-to-use backup device to save all of my digital photos and scans of documents. I first mentioned Picture Keeper in a previous post and now I’d like to explain how to get started using a program that many call “the simplest automatic picture backup device.”
Getting Started with the Picture Keeper
Just plug the Picture Keeper drive into a USB port on your computer and it will walk you through the process of backing up your photos. The software is already installed on the USB drive and is ready to start saving your digital photos and scans.
The first time you use the Picture Keeper drive on a PC, the “Auto Play” dialog will appear. With your mouse, double-click on the “Open Folder to View Files” option.
Normally, the main PictureKeeper window will appear, but if not, click “LaunchPictureKeeper.exe” to launch the program:
For Mac, look for a drive on your desktop labelled "PK" or "No name". Double click on that drive. When it opens the window, just double click on the item labelled "PictureKeeper" that contains a small icon in front of it. The other files are for PCs.
Then the Picture Keeper dialog will appear.
Using the Picture Keeper Program
Click “Start Backup” to begin the initial process of backing up your photos. The Picture Keeper will automatically navigate your hard drive looking for image files (jpg and png). It will then copy them to the Picture Keeper drive using the same folder and files names as those already on your computer. You can use the “Options” menu to add additional image file types such as bmp and psd.
Picture Keeper 8 (PK8) will store approximately 8,000 image files, provided your pictures or scans are approximately 1MB in size. If more space is required, a second Picture Keeper drive can be purchased which will seamlessly continue the backup on the second drive.
Additionally, you can use one Picture Keeper drive for a second computer. When the Picture Keeper program has finished backing up images on the first computer, simply plug it into the second computer and it will back up images on that computer as well.
Finally, remember that when you remove the Picture Keeper drive from the computer be sure and put it in a safe place!
To learn more about The Picture Keeper, watch the video below:
Picture Keeper Will Backup New and Updated Images
Now the best part! Let’s say a month has gone by and you were reminded to back up your pictures again by the Picture Keeper auto-reminder. Plug the Picture Keeper device into your computer and it will automatically back up any photos or scans that were added or changed. That is all there is to it! It certainly cuts down on duplicate copies of images on your hard drive or backup device.
Overview of How Picture Keeper Works
- Plug the Picture Keeper drive into a USB port, click “Start Backup” and Picture Keeper automatically begins searching for and saving all of your digital images. No software to install or setup. No wires. No passwords. No monthly fees.
- After the initial backup is complete, each subsequent backup runs faster as Picture Keeper only copies recently added or modified photos.
Picture Keeper Features
- The Picture Keeper is a simple and easy way to back up digital images. No technical knowledge is necessary—just plug in the Picture Keeper drive and let it go to work!
- The Picture Keeper stores up to 8,000 digital images depending upon the image size.
- The backed up images can easily be transported to a digital photo printing kiosk located at drugstores and warehouse stores such as CVS or Target.
- You can create a “Plug & Play” slide show on any digital picture frame or television that has a USB port.
- You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your digital images are safe and secure!
- A second Picture Keeper drive will work in conjunction with the first one for continuous back up.
- Each time you plug in the Picture Keeper drive it automatically finds the new or modified images added to your system and includes them in the backup.
- The Picture Keeper can help consolidate digital images from two or more computers and help eliminate duplicate images.
- The Picture Keeper is compatible with Mac, PC and Linux* operating systems.
- The Picture Keeper is more than just a USB flash drive…it does all the backup work for you!
- You can contact the U.S.-based Picture Keeper customer service support team by phone or email.
- The Picture Keeper comes with a one (1) year limited warranty.
Flip-Pal mobile scanner is now offering the Picture Keeper 8 (PK8) drive for sale online—click here for more information or to purchase.
*Compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows 7; MacOS 10.4.11 and above; Linux.
Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Apple, Mac, MacOS are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Apple Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
[Editor’s note: The following guest post from A.C. Ivory, author of the Find My Ancestor blog, shares his first encounter with the Flip-Pal® mobile scanner and with photos (and even a YouTube video) shows how you can get started scanning your photos and documents practically anywhere.]
Some of you may have heard about the new mobile scanner produced by Flip-Pal. A few years ago, Flip-Pal was at the Sandy Family History Expo showing off their cool new product and I was able to sit down and play with one at the expo.
I am so impressed with these little scanners! I must admit, when I first saw and heard about them I was a little skeptical. I thought to myself there is no way a little scanner like that could produce such a great quality image. But I have changed my mind!
This scanner is very lightweight and the perfect size for taking it around wherever you go.
You can see how small and mobile the scanner is.
Click here for the Flip-Pal mobile scanner technical specifications.
The photo above shows some of the different buttons and components of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
The Flip-Pal comes with a 2GB Secure Digital (SD) card for saving your scans. The card also comes software for color correction and photo stitching. Since the software comes on the card, all you have to do is insert the card into your computer and the software automatically loads and asks you whether you want to stitch a photo together or make a color correction. If you ever lose your SD card, you can download the software from their website and put it onto another SD card.
Some of you may be saying to yourselves right now "I don't have an SD slot in my computer or a reader that I can use with my computer." For those of you who do not have an external reader or a built-in reader in your computer, Flip-Pal also includes a USB adapter (see the photo, below) that you simply put your SD card into and then you insert the USB adapter into your computer’s USB slot.
The Flip-Pal has a little display screen for changing the scan resolution, either 300 dpi or 600 dpi. You can also change other settings on the screen. Of course, the screen will also show you a preview of the image you just scanned. This allows you to decide whether you want to keep that scan or do another one.
One of the coolest features that I find is that you can take off the lid or the top of the scanning bed and then turn the scanner upside down and scan a book or a large photo! There have been a couple of times where this would have been really handy for me! I have gone through a couple of old scrapbooks my grandma and mom have made, and with each of them I have had to carefully take apart the scrapbook in order for it to fit onto my flat-bed scanner at home. With the Flip-Pal you don't have to do that anymore!
For photos and documents that are larger than the scanning screen all you have to do is "stitch" them together. Now in the past, it required quite a bit of time, talent, and proper software in order to do this. With the Flip-Pal it’s as easy as scanning the images and telling the software which images you want to stitch together…the Flip-Pal does the rest! I have to admit that this photo stitching software is the best I have seen considering how simple it is. While I don't have an actual example of an image that was stitched together—trust me—it is good! You couldn't even tell that it was scanned in multiple sections and then put together into one image!
All the images saved from the scanner are in a JPG format, which works on both the Windows and Mac operating systems.
Also another really cool feature I find with the Flip-Pal is that you aren't limited to 2D scans anymore! With the Flip-Pal you can scan 3D objects such as coins, military medals and even water bottles! Now you may be asking yourself “why you would ever want to scan a water bottle?” Well, you might have an old soda pop bottle or an ancestor’s old tin can that you would like to get an image of what is on it. You can always take a picture, but the photo would be distorted according to the contour of the bottle. With the Flip-Pal you can get a flat image from a circular object!
[Editor’s note: The following guest post from Susan Petersen, author of LongLostRelatives.net, reviews the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and shows how you can be up-and-running in just minutes and on your way to scanning family photos.]
I've eagerly been waiting for my Flip-Pal mobile scanner to arrive ever since I ordered it. This little gem arrived yesterday and I've been trying out some basic scanning as well as scanning an oversized document to see how the EasyStitch software works.
I was scanning some 55-year-old snapshots in less than five minutes after opening the box.
First of all, this scanner is fast. I'm used to my flatbed scanner warming up, grinding around and taking its sweet time. This scanner was producing images for me in just a few seconds.
The image above is just a very ordinary photo of yours truly mugging for the camera. It's fairly typical of Brownie camera photographs processed at the drugstore in the mid-1950s. With some minor adjustments in the contrast, the scan actually looks sharper than the original.
The software that comes with the scanner allows you to make some adjustments with brightness and contrast. I found it to be quite satisfactory for these "quick and dirty" examples. If you want to do more photo restoration in Photoshop or in another photo editing software that would be fine, but for most scans I think the Flip-Pal software is totally acceptable.
The image below is a “Before and After” example of the type of adjustments you can make to your scanned images. On the left is my original scan and on the right is the image after I experimented with the brightness and contrast. The original image is from one of those small photo booth pictures, circa 1940.
The next project was to see just how this works on oversize images. After all, isn't that the reason that a lot of us genealogists are interested in this product?
I went straight for my grandfather's childhood scrapbook of magazine photos of horses, cows and pigs. It's about 12" x 14", maybe even larger, but it's too big to get a full page on my flatbed scanner. It took me a couple tries to get the auto-stitching software to work, but that was my own fault since I seldom read instruction manuals unless absolutely necessary. Since the software was not recognizing any “stitchable” regions, I realized that my scans had to overlap with one another. I made 11 scans of the page and here are four of them, just to demonstrate what the individual scanned images look like. (Image size is reduced for the blog post.)
The Flip-Pal software is loaded on the 2GB SD memory card that comes with the scanner.
I clicked on the menu item "Stitch Scans," selected the scanned images to sew together and in only a few seconds I had the following image on my computer screen:
I've left this image at its original size so you can click on it to see the full-size hi-res scan. I'll challenge anyone to find each individual scanned image. It absolutely matches perfectly. I even avoided cropping this image so you could see the overage on the sides where I did the scanning. Well, what can I say? This is one of the two main reasons that I wanted to get this scanner.
[Editor’s note: The following guest post from Gary Clark, Founder of PhotoTree.com, discusses how you can create archival quality scans of family photos with the compact yet powerful Flip-Pal® mobile scanner!]
While exhibiting and presenting a session on dating 19th century photographs at the August 2010 Family History Expo in Sandy, Utah, I had the opportunity to take a first-hand look at the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and give it good test. I was very interested in the capabilities of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, especially for archival-quality scans while traveling.
First, a little background. As the founder of PhotoTree.com, I have digitized over 3,000 19th century photographs using a variety of techniques and products and along the way I have developed some expectations of scanning and copying technologies.
PhotoTree.com publishes an online database of 19th century photographs and has developed processes to date them—both online and using printed publications. Additionally, we perform photo restoration, requiring high-resolution digital copies of the original image.
We digitize photographs either with a high-end flatbed scanner or by copying the image with a high-resolution digital camera, using a copy stand and custom lights. A 12 megapixel Nikon D300 camera with a 60mm macro lens is used. All of this equipment costs more than $2,500 and is very bulky. The flatbed scanner also requires an attached PC, cables, power source, etc.—not a real nimble set up.
When traveling, I usually don’t have the luxury of bringing my scanner or all of my photography equipment along, but I still need to frequently create high-quality scans of newly discovered photographs. Because of this, I have been seeking a high-resolution portable scanning solution.
Back to the Flip-Pal mobile scanner test. During a lull in the second day of the expo I introduced myself to Ben Kimbell in the Flip-Pal mobile scanner booth and explained my activities and scanning needs. Despite my skepticism, the size, ease of use and price seemed very intriguing, if too good to be true—and you know what they say about things being too good to be true. So I gave Ben a challenge and had him scan a really nice 120 year-old cabinet card that was very crisp and had a great tonal range.
Ben scanned the picture at 600 dpi and I took it back to my PC to open with Photoshop. Voila! Most people wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the Flip-Pal scan and the master copy I made with my Nikon camera—which was also made at approximately 600 dpi.
When zoomed in as much as 300%, both images exhibited nearly identical sharpness, with differences being mostly a matter of opinion at that point. The scanned image did have some detectable noise and some JPEG compression loss. To be honest, you really had to look for them, and both of those were in acceptable ranges—especially when you compare the JPEG file size of 1.8MB for the Flip-Scan versus the 24MB of the original Photoshop file. The Flip-Pal can also scan at 300 dpi, which we did. The results were very good and ideal for most user applications.
Flip-Pal scan at 600 dpi
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is certainly up to all the scanning tasks that a genealogist could have—and more. I will use it as an archival tool when I don’t have access to my studio or can’t bring all my equipment with me. The small size is also a great benefit to the traveler—it’s half the size of my iPad and the image quality is superb.
Gary Clark, Founder, PhotoTree.com Contact: gary[@]phototree.com
PhotoTree.com provides numerous services and tools to genealogists of all levels as well as collectors and historians, that guide them through the process of dating 19th century photographs and helps them preserve their valuable photographs through restoration, reproduction and archiving techniques.
Tools include an online gallery of more than 1,000 dated images in over 50 categories to compare with undated family photos. Viewing documented examples similar to family photos can help establish the probable date of a photograph. This web site, which includes an extensive history and description of 19th century photographs, is freely available to the public.
A series of easy-to-use unique publications for the genealogist and other 19th century photograph enthusiasts are forthcoming from PhotoTree.com. Available in e-book and print, these highly illustrated sample-based guides provide the most in-depth explanation of photograph dating techniques ever published.
In addition, PhotoTree.com offers expert photograph restoration and enhancement services—ensuring that damaged photos will not be lost forever, but can be restored and recreated as beautiful artwork. For a comprehensive source of 19th century photographic information visit www.phototree.com.
Images courtesy of Gary Clark, PhotoTree.com.
Today is World UFO Day, and in celebration, Flip-Pal asks: have you ever thought about an ancestral connection to UFOs and aliens?
Did you have ancestors with a family story concerning a UFO sighting? Is the story documented in any way, perhaps by the US Government? One way to find out is by researching the Project Blue Book – UFO Investigations database (http://www.fold3.com/title_461/project_blue_book_ufo_investigations/) available for free over at fold3.
Project Blue Book – UFO Investigations
With almost 130,000 pages of stories and images, Project Blue Book consists of “sanitized case files on sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) of Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force investigation into UFOs that were sighted between June 1947 and December 1969.” Published in 1976 by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Project Blue Book lists UFO-related investigations from all over the world.
Since names of witnesses are often redacted or blocked out, it may be difficult to make the connection between an actual incident and your ancestor, but the documents in Project Blue Book are a fascinating read nonetheless.
Document Your Family’s UFO Stories
You’d be surprised if you were to include a question such as “Have you ever seen a UFO?” or “Do you remember a UFO sighting where you grew up?” when interviewing family members. And what do you do if the answer is yes or the person brings out newspaper clippings or a scrapbook about the incident?
With a Flip-Pal® mobile scanner you can capture every detail and add it to your research. And you’ll create a lasting memory about a close encounter that will fascinate other family members for years to come.