Digital Photography Workflow Addendum – Scanning

HP 6200C Scanner

It occurred to me after publishing my last post, Digital Photography Workflow on a Power Macintosh 7300/200, that I had missed an obvious point. Prior to the emergence of usable digital cameras, digitized photos were still being created of course. Instead of being captured with a digital camera, they were being captured with film cameras, printed and then scanned. In recognition of this, let me add an addendum to the last post, addressing a different Step One of the workflow, which is the capturing of digital images from printed images via scanning.

As a nearly lifelong fan of digital imaging, I have been using scanners to capture images since 1996 or so, something that I started doing as soon as my then new 200 MHz Pentium Pro system finally provided me with a computer that had enough “grunt” to get the job done. I started with an Umax 2400 scanner at the time, and eventually upgraded to an HP 6200C scanner, acquired when I upgraded my 200 MHz Pentium Pro system to a 450 MHz Pentium II system. Of course, I still have that HP 6200C scanner (…and the 450 MHz Pentium II system as well!), and of course, it still works like a charm.

Umax 2400 Scanner

UMAX Astra 2400s Professional A3 Scanner

HP 6200C Scanner

HP 6200C Scanner

During that time, I used the manufacturer-provided TWAIN drivers to interface my scanners to my computers, allowing the capture of images, and then carried on with the rest of my workflow. In the weird and wacky world of Windows, getting the scanner’s TWAIN drivers to “take” and actually allow the computer to “see” the scanner was always a challenge, and I remember fighting my way through that unnecessarily difficult process far too many times, with Windows almost literally kicking and screaming the whole way along.

BTW, we all know what TWAIN stands for, right? TWAIN: Technology Without An Interesting Name! 🙂

By 2004, I had finally had all of Windows that I could stand and I moved to Linux. This was a liberating, educational and stimulating move BUT, the above TWAIN drivers no longer worked, and most manufacturers did not provide support for Linux, considering it to be a distant stepchild of distinctly poor lineage (if you know what I mean!).

It was at that time that I discovered VueScan, which I now know to be the most popular scanner driver/interface in the world. VueScan came into being in 1998, the creation of one Ed Hamrick, who to this day continues to earn a handsome living from the sale of VueScan licenses while simultaneously providing an invaluable service to the world (a nearly universal scanner interface).

VueScan Logo

While it is perhaps just a bit of an overstatement to say this, VueScan seems to support just about every scanner known to man, and does so on just about every major operating system known to man. Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus! 🙂

It will therefore come as no surprise that VueScan supported my HP 6200C scanner on Linux with no issues at all, and between the three of us (myself, Linux and VueScan), a lot of scanned images came into being.

My Power Macintosh 7300/200 is running Mac OS 9.1, a January 2001 product, and so I reasoned that there had to be a version of VueScan for it by then. Sure enough, there was. Version 7.6.64 of VueScan is supported on Mac OS 9.x. I found it at The Macintosh Garden (www.macintoshgarden.org), downloaded it and installed it. As a long time VueScan user, I had many, many years ago purchased a “Professional” license for it, and the Mac OS 9 version of VueScan happily accepted the license code and registered the product, removing the watermarks that the unregistered version otherwise places over all images that it creates.

Capturing digital images with VueScan is a breeze. As a key simplification, no manufacturer drivers are needed, eliminating that entire headache – VueScan provides internal drivers for all the scanners it supports. To use it, simply plug your scanner in, run the program and wait for 20 seconds or so while it does its magic, recognizing your scanner and setting itself up. During this time, VueScan presents its splash screen, so that you know that it is working away on your behalf.

vuescan

The above is a capture of the splash screen from the Mac OS 9 version of VueScan (7.6.64) on my Power Macintosh 7300, running Mac OS 9.1. Clearly the Mac OS 9 version of VueScan inherited a very early rendition of the splash screen. Anyone who has used VueScan at any time in the past or present will be more familiar with variations on its current splash screen image. One such variation appears below:

vuescansplash

However, I digress. When the scanner identification process completes, the VueScan GUI appears and the splash screen disappears. The tabs along the left hand side of the GUI provide a wealth of settings and adjustments, allowing you to tweak the final image parameters to your heart’s content. Adjust these until you are happy that you have selected the right set, and you are ready to proceed. If in doubt as to what to set to what, it is my experience that you will typically want to select “Color photo” and “150 dpi” or “300 dpi” as the key settings, and leave the rest of them alone, at least initially. As you get more experienced with VueScan, you will find yourself fine tuning more and more of the parameters over time. VueScan is incredibly capable. The more you experiment with it, the more you will like it.

VueScan Options

OK, back to the workflow. Place the image to be scanned on the scanner and select the Preview button from the VueScan button bar along the bottom of the GUI. The scanner emits a cacophony of C3PO-type noises and then runs a quick preview scan, the results of which show up in the right hand pane of the VueScan GUI shortly thereafter. Adjust the cropping box by grabbing and dragging the dotted lines to fit the dimensions of the image you are about to scan and then press the Scan button from the button bar. Again the scanner provides an entertaining symphony of sounds as it prepares for the scan and then emits a longer, lower note as it carries out the scan itself. The results pop up in the Scan tab of the right hand pane of the GUI after a brief processing delay, replacing the earlier preview scan image that had been previously displayed there.

Applying all of this in the Happy Macs environment, I plugged in my venerable HP 6200C scanner, fired up VueScan and performed the Preview and Scan steps above. Below is a screen shot of the GUI after the first image scan had completed.

VueScan GUI

At this point, VueScan launches an “external viewer” to display to you the image it has captured. You can configure which program it uses for this purpose in one of the many settings available in the left pane of the GUI. I set it to JPEGView for my workflow and so after any scan completes, a JPEGView window pops up with the captured image in it. This image has already been stored in the designated output folder (selectable in the left hand pane of the GUI) by VueScan and so you can just dismiss this image when you are done with it. The scanned image is now on your computer, awaiting further processing.

At this point, you may be done, or you can carry on and scan several more images. If you have scanned more than one image, you may wish to proceed to the Triage step of the workflow  outlined in my last post, or if you have already been very selective about the images you have chosen for scanning, you may wish to proceed directly to the image processing step of the workflow. There you can accomplish further cropping, color balancing, sharpening, resizing and so on, as you see fit.

So that is it! Get and install VueScan 7.6.64 (or any earlier Mac OS supported version), plug your scanner in, and execute the VueScan program. You are on your way to creating world class scans on your vintage Macintosh!

p.s.> VueScan remains a living, supported and evolving product. I still use the current version of it today on my Mac OS X Mavericks main computer for all my scanning needs.

Disclaimer-small

p.p.s.> Despite the glowing review above, please note that I am not associated with VueScan, or with Ed Hamrick, in any way, other than being a very satisfied customer.

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