Monday, October 13, 2014

Too hard to read? Fixed it!

See that image up top? How would you like to spend some time trying to read and transcribe that? No? Me either.

Mom was doing some research back in the early 1990s on our Revolutionary War ancestor, Peter Troutman who lived most of his life in Southampton, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She needed to get up to the Historical and Genealogical Society and History Center there but couldn't right then so she wrote to them and outlined what she needed. They sent her a package, for a very reasonable contribution. I'm now working on Peter Troutman and have that packet sent to Mom. And that image up top is what all the pages look like. Ugh, I thought, this is gonna get ugly.

That first image used to be called a reverse stat or photostat. It was cheap to make and served well when a copy was needed but at the lowest possible cost. Thank goodness that the inexpensive desktop copier is everywhere today and we don't have to deal with stats any longer!

I put it off diving into the packet of dark papers for a while, maybe too long because I was starting to feel guilty every time I glanced at the bundle sitting atop the scanner. When I get problems like this standing in the way of progress, my way of moving forward is to just ask myself what the heck the problem really is. I just couldn't get past the total darkness of each page. So how could I overcome that? I Googled.

After trying a couple of different search terms he word "invert" arrived. Seems that Photoshop, including the ubiquitous Photoshop Elements, has a invert tool. Actually the invert tool is pretty cool stuff. You'll find it under the Image > Adjust tool group. See  a demo here. You can also find it if you're using Paint and here's a quick demo here.

It's super easy to do and I'm glad I did it. Once the scanned document was inverted, it looked pinkish so it got converted to grayscale. In Photoshop you can find that under Image > Mode. All three images are above so you can decide which you like best.

You'll probably want to file each under a different file name so if you need to, you can backtrack to the earlier version.

I breezed through the transcription and my eyes were happy about it too.

Here's a bonus just for fun. Used the Paint invert tool on a photo of my orchids! Cool, huh? Imagine what you can do with pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes!! Now that's scary.



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