Google PhotoScan

When a Windows 7 rig on my work desk was replaced with an iMac, the Windows driven scanner I used also went on permanent vacation. And with that went efforts to scan old print photographs. Taking pictures of glossy photos from the past yields only a flash point and darkness.

img_20161117_142200187Shrue Dana Gallen Joel photograph

Note that the background border was not black but was actually a maroon colored towel that the photograph was placed on.

Enter Google PhotoScan, an Android app that turns your cell phone into a photo scanner that is as good as your cell phone camera. The app uses an initial reference photo and then has the user move the phone to new locations using white guide dots on the screen. Then Photoscan digitally assembles the five images into a single glare-free image, cropping to the original edge of the image. Note that I took the next photo from the same distance as the photo above, the frame included the maroon towel.

Shrue Dana Gallen Joel Photoscan

Google PhotoScan automatically detected and deleted the maroon towel, retaining the edge of the photograph automatically. The original has water damage at the top as seen in both images. The photo was taken on Yap circa 1999 and includes Shrue, myself, and the family of Gallen Joel. A Motorola Moto G4 Play was used to scan the photograph.

I made the initial mistake of trying to crop out the towel in the cell phone screen. That actually yields poor results. The software is looking for the edge of the photograph, depriving the software of that edge led to at least one distorted image as the software tried to correct perspective without having the edge to work with. The app deleted the maroon towel as part of the processing. The app also included part of the image under the PhotoScan “take picture” button – something that was not obvious to me the first time I used the app.

The app appeared to find the larger span of an eight and half by eleven sheet of paper more challenging, and I found the large movements more challenging as well, but I did capture a reasonable photocopy of the page. Attempts to PhotoScan a whiteboard with notes on the white board proved even more challenging. Here the distances are greater, both from the board and across which one has to scan, and there is no edge of a photograph to work with. Although the scanner claimed to have failed to capture the board, I did find that a glare free image of the white board had been captured.

The app is available in the Google Play store and requires Android 5.0 or higher. Available also on iOS. My thanks to my son for bringing this app to my attention!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s