Old Photo Scanning and Flickr Uploading in Ubuntu 7.10

I’ve been going through my old photos, stored away in an old biscuit tin (which itself has drawn comment from a couple of people). Because I was so anal in the past (not like now, ahem) I kept them all their paper wallets from the developers, with the negatives, and in many cases labelled on the back with the date and frame number. This means I’ve been able to throw away a lot of the photos, because they take up space, and I know I can (if I so desire) get more prints made from the negatives. I’m sure I won’t, but I just can’t face throwing them away entirely.

The ones that are left I am now scanning and posting on my Flickr account. The process is a bit laborious, due to the equipment I use. My scanner, a Mustek 1248B is USB bus powered and slooooooooow. But, it connects nicely to Ubuntu, and using the fantastic GIMP and XSane I am scanning away merrily.

To save some time I’m using a clever trick I picked up, which uses a great feature of GIMP. Here’s what to do.

  1. Arrange 4 photos on the scanner glass, leaving a little gap between them and making them as straight as possible.
  2. In GIMP: File > Acquire > XSane > Device dialog
  3. This will start the XSane scanning software and allow you to set the scanning settings, resolution, colours etc. When happy, click Scan.
  4. Go to the nearest cinema and watch ‘There Will Be Blood‘, because it’s brilliant, and you have some time to spare, because the scanner is so slow. Actually it takes about 20 seconds. The scanned image will appear in GIMP.
  5. Clever bit. By clicking and dragging from the rulers at the top and side of the image, create horizontal and vertical guides where the gaps between the photos are. These will be where you chop the image up into the separate 4 photos.
  6. In GIMP: Image > Transform > Guillotine
  7. GIMP chops up the image, and creates a series of new images depending on where the guides were. It preserves the original too.
  8. Now you can edit, fine-crop, adjust and fiddle about with your pics before saving them.

Good eh? But how to get them onto Flickr? I could use the upload-by-email feature, but that seems to be a bit flaky for me, probably due to something my end. The official Flickr Uploadr is only available for Windows and OSX, but luckily there is a great Linux alternative, jUploadr, which uses Java, and works perfectly for me. It allows you to drag-and-drop your images into it, then add tags, set access permissions and so on, before uploading to Flickr. Highly recommended.