‘Tis the Season for Santa Photos

It is that time of the year again, the time for Santa photos… and posting those photos to Facebook. Sometimes you will see a perfect digital print and other times you will see a photo of the photo. In the latter case they have probably visited a Santa that won’t let you have a digital copy without purchasing the “Ultra-Mega-Super-Value-Pack” and the quickest way to get the photo onto Facebook is to snap it with your phone. I’d like to show you a method that takes a few more seconds and gives you a much better result.

The preparation for this method is the download of Google’s PhotoScan. It is available for Android and iOS. Once you have this app installed scanning a photo is almost as simple at taking a photo.

When you take a photo of a photo it is hard to a very good result. Camera angle, reflections, focus, shadow, glare and the ability to keep the camera steady all work against you. This is an example of what you can achieve taking a photo or a photo…

Looks pretty good but you can see the edges of the picture and it’s narrower at the top than the bottom so hard to crop. It’s ok, no one would think badly of you for posting it but we can do better.

Open PhotoScan. The first screen looks very much like a camera interface. All you need to do in this step is align the photo inside the box and take the photo.

By default it takes its reference photo with the flash and “Glare Reduction” is on. With “Glare Reduction” switched on, once you have captured the image the next screen requests four more images one for each corner of the photo. The process is similar to taking a panorama. Move the camera until a solid circle sits inside the hollow circle.

Once the solid circle is within the hollow circle the app will automatically take a photo and a small arrow will appear indicating which solid circle to capture next. Once you have captured all four solid circles the final image will be processed. The reference image and the four quadrant images are combined to produce the “Scan”.

          Photo of the photo                                                       “PhotoScan” of the photo

The result is correctly dimensioned and framed and (hopefully) free of any reflections or shadows. Sometimes the resultant image is a little cropped. The edges of the photo might have been a bit damaged, a little curled, the surface the photo is resting on may have tricked the app or the camera angle might not be exactly square. If you are unhappy with the amount of cropping you have the option to “Adjust Corners” to re-crop the image.

It is designed to “scan” photos but I have also used it for my kids’ drawings and, a little less successfully, to capture documents and receipts (sometimes text ghosting or double printing can occur).

That’s about it! It’s a simple app but it is very effective. Now I expect your Santa photos in the future to look great on Facebook 😉

Merry Christmas.