Regular readers know that I've been scanning photos on an HP flatbed printer-scanner-fax. Since I run Linux, I use XSANE, the standard scanning front end software on Linux.
This do a great job of letting me capture photos at whatever resolution I like (typically 150 dpi, but more on that later) and turn them into PNG photos to torture you, dear reader. But it also lets me do all sorts of correction, to turn bad or spoiled shots into good ones.
For example, here's a picture of #2 Son. The exposure barfed when the picture was taken, so the bottom of the photo was terribly over exposed. That's too bad, because he has quite a whimsical expression - which kept the lovely and sentimental Mrs. Borepatch from tossing the pic, but it never made it into the photo albums, either.
XSANE to the rescue! It has a preview pane, where you can select which part of the photo you want scanned. Here you see me grabbing the middle of the picture, turning it from portrait layout to landscape, and cropping the top and bottom of the shot.
Since I'm throwing away around half the picture, I bumped the scanning resolution up a bit (to 200 dpi in this case). This expands the picture, and lets me fill the screen with his whimsical expression.
The finished pic. Yay XSANE!
This is pretty basic stuff, but you can take it to the extreme. Consider a terrible photo of #1 Son, in Brussels:
I blame Brussels (actually, the shot is not well composed). But #1 Son has a very interesting expression. Since nothing much else in the shot has any interest at all, let's zoom way, way in:
At 300 dpi it's starting to get grainy, but that's better. Brussels is a lot nicer when you stop looking at it!
One of the most useful things that I've found (and use on maybe 60% of the photos) is the "despeckle" feature, which removes the white spots from lint on the photo or scanner glass bed.
The downside is that it's time consuming, and all of you get subjected to more Borepatch photos. But it gives me a backup to all our photo albums, and I can get prints made by uploading the PNG file to one of the many photo printing services on the Internet.