Photoscape is the one photo imaging and editing program I use most often in relation to my genealogy research.
I spent my career life creating, altering or designing images, graphics, documents, etc. However, I have found that using the professional level software packages I once used for editing these images for genealogy to be like flying a million dollar airplane to shop at the cross-town supermarket – totally unnecessary and a waste of space and resources.
Working with images for genealogy is necessary to adjust for exposure problems, crop, flip, rotate and deskew images. These are fairly basic functions, but I was frustrated time and again when trying to find a simple, effective, efficient program that has a small footprint and uses the minimum of system resources.
The free program I eventually settled on and have come to love is ‘Photoscape‘. Although it is free, it is only available for use with Windows.
I am not familiar with all the features Photoscape has available, but I do know that the ones I routinely use are only a small percentage of the whole.
The functions I have found invaluable are in the ‘Editor’ section and are:
- MOST IMPORTANT are the ‘Undo’ and ‘Redo’ for obvious reasons.
- Rotate 90 degrees, either counter-clockwise or clockwise
- Rotate freely
- Flip horizontally or vertically
- Contrast Enhancement – to increase depth and contrast.
- Deepen – a less harsh method of increasing depth and contrast without losing as much in the midtones.
- Brighten – to adjust for underexposure.
- Darken – to adjust for overexposure.
- Decolor – to ‘wash out’ colors for a more vintage muted look.
- White Balance – helps remove color casts by returning what should be whites to the original white while adjusting all other colors and tones the same degree.
- Sepia – Monotone vintage look.
- Sharpen – To adjust for small amounts of blur and lack of contrast.
- Bloom – an all-in-one adjustment function for varying levels of brightness and contrast while also setting desired levels of ‘blur’.
- Backlight – Adjusts shadowed images as if a backlight had been used in taking the image.
- Crop Freely
- Crop Round Image
- Red Eye Correction
- Mole Removal
With any of these adjustments, it is important to not go too far ahead so you can ‘undo’ or ‘redo’. In some cases, such as ‘Bloom’, ‘Contrast’, ‘Brighten’ and ‘Darken’ – a small adjustment goes a long way.
The way Photoscape works best for me is for altering images as I’m putting them into the database. I especially like to use ‘primary images’ as much as possible for each person. In cases where their image is only available among a group, I use this software to crop it out, make the necessary adjustments, save it under a new name (very important to not save over original image) and attach to that person. I find that this method is quick and seemless – especially if you have a long monitor that allows you to resize and view both in one window, or if you have a dual monitor setup.
This Photoscape software also has a safeguard that has saved me more than a few times. Every image that is altered is saved in its original state to an ‘Originals’ folder within the main folder. Just be careful. If you reopen and work on the image more than once, each successive altered image becomes the new ‘original’. If you want to differentiate between these originals, be sure to either rename or number them.
This software is an essential part of my genealogy ‘toolkit’ and I’m sure that you will find it as useful as I have.