Today I had the good fortune to spend some time at an image archive. A large collection of archival materials is in the process of being organized and digitized for better access. It was really a very interesting case study and a rather streamlined and efficient workflow. Needless to say, I was geekily impressed. All I could think of was how I would love to incorporate some of their practices both professionally and in my home project.
The first step is sorting. They open a file and sort by purpose and type, grouping duplicates together. Using a set criteria, the best images are chosen for scanning. Priority is given to negatives, and greater than that to the most original generation (35mm camera negative holds more image information than a 4×5 print). Prints and negatives are housed individually in archival sleeves for handling and to protect the image.
Scanning – everyone’s favorite part of the process. Sweet Berries, that scanner was a beautiful machine. I found myself staring at it, fantasizing hours of quality time… As jpg files are compressed, the preferred format is a high quality tif file. Note to self: jpgs are for internet, tif for all other usage.
Quality control uses everyone’s favorite image editing software, Adobe Photoshop! Levels are adjusted, dirt is cleaned, sometimes other triage is necessary.
What I consider the most important thing for any library cannot be overlooked – metadata. Big scary word, I know, but trust me, you love it and use it everyday. A proper catalog entry with details about the image do nothing but good things. If you do it right the first time, you don’t end up like me, staring at pictures of faces thinking “now, who the frak is this and where in blazes are they?!?”
The whole day made me want to go back and re-do everything I’ve already done with better equipment. Maybe I will… in a year or so.