|Subject: Re: Organizing and Storing Digital Photos|
Lesley Lavack asked about organizing and storage systems for digital photographs.
I take several hundred digital photos and about 4-6 hours of video on our major trip. I keep nearly all of the photos on my computer but also burn copies in several formats (I may qualify as an obsessive-compulsive on other grounds, but this does not take that long). In particular, I have a CD with all of our old photos that is an archive. In addition, I burn each year's separately. The reason for the latter is that I have a DVD player that can show them on our TV along with the DVDs I burn of each year's trip as a slide show. We all look at them from time to time and I even have some masochistic friends who want to see them, even if only to learn about the technology for their trips (we also know a couple see them who share our Italian fascination, so they are interested in the content).
The life should be indefinite as long as you have hardware and software to view them. The main problems are accidental erasures or other loss. Many feel that the CD format will become obsolete shortly, but I would assume that DVD and future formats will be downward compatible.
As far as software goes, you may wish to start with any of the many fine freeware programs before you spend money. Besides the material you get with your scanner or printer, there are hundreds of items. In particular, everyone should get a copy of Irfanview, which does a host of things like create thumbnails for easier access, and slide shows. In particular, it can take various numbers of individual pictures and make them into a composite. In particular, it can create a 2 x 2 montage that you print in 8 1/2 by 11 format to make pictures of scrapbook size, since you asked if this is possible. It is and works well, but keep in mind that digital photos are far more resilient to the impact of time as long as you can keep up with them.
I teach a course on computer literacy, so you may find my web page useful to locating some of this freeware. Go to http://www2.uta.edu/Bernstein/material_for_computer_literacy.htm This has the relevant pointers to a wide variety of material. Please let me know if a pointer is obsolete.
The pinnacle of software is Adobe Photoshop, which sells for about $500 (US). There is a limited version called Elements, I believe, for about $100. Both allow forms of editing that freebies don't, as far as I know. For example, any relevant software allows you to rotate by increments of 90 degrees, but do not allow fine adjustments.
You also mention you have 35 mm photos. I don't know how much free time you have, but you might want to consider scanning them to further insure their permanence. If you decide to, get a scanner which can process transparencies since negatives (especially) and slides will look better than prints because the printing process inherently loses contrast.
If you become really addicted to the point of going with digital video, which is marvelous, there is a modest cost, but it is not terrible. Right now, a bit of a concern is the lack of single format since home DVDs are usually either made in what is called DVD-R or DVD+R, and the two are incompatible--a DVD player may not play either, some (including many low end) play one but not the other, but few play both.
Ira H. Bernstein Dallas, TX 75230