Windows 7 : Managing Pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (part 7) - Importing Images with a Scanner

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6. Importing Pictures into Photo Gallery

If you already have pictures on your PC, you can add them to Photo Gallery by copying them into one of the folders Photo Gallery monitors, by adding their containing folders to Photo Gallery's watch folder list, or by dragging them directly into the application window. But what if you need to import new pictures via a digital camera, memory card, picture CD or DVD, or scanner? Like Windows XP and Vista, Windows 7 supports image acquisition via all of these sources. And it all happens via Windows Live Photo Gallery.


If you do not have Windows Live Photo Gallery installed on your PC, there is no obvious way to import photos. You will basically need to install Windows Live Photo Gallery or a competing photo application to perform this function on Windows 7, short of a few cases—such as with a memory card, whereby you can simply drag raw image files over to the PC via Windows Explorer.

That said, what you see depends on whether you're importing from analog (scanner) or digital (camera or memory card) sources. We'll examine both here.

6.1. Importing Images with a Scanner

While the world has pretty much transitioned to digital photography, many people still have older photos and other paper-based content that they want to digitize and add to their digital photo collections. Devices called scanners have been designed for just this purpose, and you won't be surprised to discover that Windows Live Photo Gallery offers first-class support for scanners.

You can initiate a scan of a photo or other paper-based object in various ways. You can launch Photo Gallery, click File, and then select Import from a camera or scanner; Photo Gallery will present the Import Photos and Videos window from which you can choose the scanner. This is shown in Figure 26.

Figure 26. Scanners show up alongside cameras and other digital image sources in Photo Gallery.

Once you click Import, the New Scan wizard appears, as shown in Figure 27. From here, you can configure a bewildering series of scanning options.

Figure 27. Here, you configure your scanner and prepare for scanning.

A few of these options are quite important:

  • Profile: Make sure this is set accordingly. That is, use Photo (Default) for photos. (A second profile, Documents, is also included, but that is obviously optimized for documents.)

  • Source: Typically, you'll be using a flatbed scanner for photos, but some scanners support other scanning methods, including slide and negative scanners.

  • Color format: Here, you can choose between Color, Grayscale, and Black and White. You'll almost always want to use Color, but for black-and-white photos, choose Grayscale, not Black and White. You will typically use Black and White only for documents, though even in that case Grayscale often makes better sense.

  • File type: Most of the time, you'll want to go with the default (JPG, for JPEG) if you're scanning photos; but other options are available, all of which are of higher quality than JPG. You may want to consider PNG for archival purposes, as it does not suffer from the same lossy compression issues that JPG does. Choose TIF for documents.

  • Resolution: The default resolution here, 200 DPI (dots per inch), is pretty low. Depending on the capabilities of your scanner, you should select a higher value (I typically use 600 DPI, for example), which results in a higher-resolution image. But you can edit this image and resize it as needed. It's better to start off with a bigger source image and then downsize as needed.

There are also Brightness and Contrast sliders. Ignore these and use the photo editing features of Photo Gallery to edit the scan later.

Because most scans do not occupy the entire flatbed area, you should arrange the photos or other documents you wish to scan on the scanner and then click the Preview button. As shown in Figure 28, Windows Live Photo Gallery will do a preliminary scan so you can crop accordingly, using the onscreen markers.

Figure 28. Once you've previewed a scan, you can use the onscreen guides to crop for the final scan.

After cropping as needed, click the Scan button to perform the actual scan. Photo Gallery will scan the image and prompt you to provide a tag for this picture, as shown in Figure 29.

Figure 29. This tag will be used to name the underlying file.

This is optional, but the tag will also be used to name the photo file that's created, as well as the folder that contains it. So, for example, if you scan an image and then supply the tag "Celtics ticket," Photo Gallery will, by default, create a file called Celtics ticket.jpg inside a folder named "[Date] Celtics ticket" that exists under your Pictures folder.

Because scanning is more art form than science, chances are good you're going to want to make some edits before the rough scan can be considered a final image. You can use Photo Gallery or your favorite photo editing application to make these edits. You get a look at Photo Gallery's photo editing features later in this section.

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