• Diognes_The_Fox over 4 years ago

    As per a previous thread, I am working on making some of my imaging processes open so that I can turn these into a blog post. Overall, I'm of the opinion that a good scanner can provide extremely great results with a minimal amount of effort, but at the cost of time. With these methods, I can produce roughly 100 finished images per hour for the whole process.

    I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert here. I still have no real clue what I'm doing. I've made some improvements over time, but I'm still not completely satisfied with the output. One of the major issues I am still struggling to overcome is metallic text showing up as a flat grey. Brightness without washing out colors or creating glare or uneven lighting is another struggle. Any advice on how to overcome these obstacles would be greatly appreciated. Be kind. :)

    Here are the basic procedures I developed a few years ago and have been poking at from time to time. I added some notes between sections to explain what I've changed since then or obstacles I'm facing.

    Action shots for reference:
    full setup
    copystand closeup

    Required tools:
    Copy stand
    SLR Camera w/ Software & Power adapter (I am using a Canon Rebel T3I)
    USB cable

    0: Pre-Gaming
    0.1 - Sort materials by size. labels (all sizes), then 7” sleeves, 10” sleeves, 12” sleeves.

    Notes: This is actually pretty crucial. You're not going to want to adjust the camera per photograph. I do jackets first and then labels second. I had it listed the other way around above. I'm not sure how much of a different that actually makes. Use sticky notes to mark if certain images are already in DB or if there's inserts and stuff that need imaging.

    1: The Copy Stand
    1.1 - Construct Copy Stand as per instructions provided. Screwdriver/Patience required.
    1.2 - Install both light bulbs and plug both power cables of copy stand into power strip and plug into wall.
    1.3 - Mount camera to copy stand and run USB cable to laptop. Plug power adapter in to strip.
    1.4 - use bubble level to make sure copy stand platen is level.
    1.5 - use bubble level to make sure camera is level. These are to minimize key-stoning.

    Notes: I have since removed the arms off my stand and replaced it with two gooseneck desk lamps on top of milk crates. This was done because the length of the light arms that came with the stand where too short for use with LP jackets, causing an unusable amount of glare.

    The copy stand itself is now pretty basic and could likely be constructed from off-the-shelf materials. Pole mounted to a piece of wood with a camera mount attached to a clamp.

    2: Camera
    2.1 - Install Canon software. Specifically drivers, Photo Professional and EOS utility.
    2.2 - Power camera on and remove lens cap after connected to Computer and start EOS utility
    2.2.1 - Make sure lens is set to AF (Auto-Focus) but with the Stabilizer off.
    2.3 - Select ‘View Live Shoot’ to start live shoot mode.
    2.3.1 - Place Grey Card on platen and photograph this. This will be used for white balancing later if need be. White balancing can also be done from live shoot mode. Make sure “apply to shots” is checked.
    2.3.2 - Make sure to clear the shot of anything which may obstruct light or is of a confidential nature (keys, paperwork with confidential information, etc)
    2.4 - Position victim on platen. Make sure it’s relatively squared up on live view.
    2.4.1 - Use bluetac/tape to create a template of sorts to assist in squaring up your item.
    2.4.2 - Lower camera mount to lowest point possible to shoot full image. This is to ensure time sharpness. (labels ~21cm/24mm; 7” sleeves ~35cm/24mm; 12” sleeves ~54cm/24mm)
    2.4.3 - Adjust zoom on lens to fit subject being photographed. Labels should be as close as possible to get best possible image.
    2.5 - Power light sources on and position them to remove any glare on your subject and provide the most evenly lit image.
    2.5.1 - and go get yourself some cheap sunglasses (because there will likely be a lightbulb 6” from your face)
    2.6 - Adjust F-Stop, Shutter speed and ISO to provide best image.(Currently using 2", F14 and ISO 100, but some adjustment may be needed)
    2.6.1 - Make sure camera is shooting in RAW format.
    2.7.1 - Select output directory that works for your project (I suggest YYMMDDNameOfCollection)
    2.7 - Under Shooting Menu and Detail Set, set Sharpnessto 7
    2.8 - In Live Shoot, position white square to section of subject closest to center with the most amount of detail and press ON under the Focus function. This will autofocus the image
    2.9 - Press shutter button (top right of main camera control)
    2.10 - Repeat from 2.4 until done, power camera off.

    Notes: Obviously, your camera and bundled software will vary here. I made the instructions for the camera I have. These should be able to be adapted to what you have. Any advice here for open source or otherwise non-proprietary software appreciated.

    3: Digital Photo Professional
    3.1 - If not already done in 2.1, install software
    3.2 - Copy Stand should be painted 18% grey which should make all images automatically whitebalanced, if not, use software to adjust whitebalance and other colors.
    3.3 - If light source did not change during photo shoot, you should be able to export the recipe and bulk apply it to the rest of the image set.
    3.3.1 - Select all and use Trimming Angle to rotate and create crop lines around edges of labels/jackets. Copy and Apply To All on first image to create template.
    3.3.1.1 - DO NOT CLOSE THE WINDOW EVER. ALWAYS HIT OK OR ALL IS LOST.
    3.4.a - Select all images and use Batch Process to convert to TIFF images.
    3.4.b - OR Select all images and use Batch Process to convert to JPG images.

    Notes: Again, any advice on non-proprietary software would do wonders here. Especially if someone can come up with some form of automatic rotation / edge detection to remove a good chunk of the work from this process.

    4a: The Gimp (Manual)
    4.1 - If not already done, install the gimp
    4.2 - Load TIFF image exported from 3.4. Select the First page if import dialog box appears.
    4.2.1 - Skip 4.3/4.4 if following 3.3.1
    4.3 - Rotate image until it’s as perfectly square as possible. I use the edge of the dialog box as a square.
    4.4 - Crop Squared image and paste into new window.
    4.4.1 - Skip 4.5/4.6 if doing anything other than LP jackets
    4.5 - to reduce barrel distortion (LP Jackets only) Open the Filters Menu => Distorts = Lens Distortion (I usually use -3 under Main)
    4.6 - The Perspective tool may be used to reduce keystoning, but feels weird and is a lot of work, only if absolutely necessary.
    4.7 - Use Scale tool (Make sure the chain icon is pressed to lock perspectives) reduct image to 1100 pixels wide.
    4.8 - Cut, Paste into new window, save at 90% JPG file, upload to discogs.

    Notes: More for reference. Batch method below is better.

    4b: The Gimp (Batch)
    4.1 - Install Gimp, Install BIMP if not using a version that has batch processing built in.
    4.2 - Separate any LP Jackets or others that need barrel distortion removed to a separate folder.
    4.3 - Start up Gimp, File => Batch Image Manipulation
    4.4 - Add Resize: “Set Exact Size In Pixel” and “Preserve Aspect Ratio” and 1100 pixels
    4.5 - (If necessary) Add Other GIMP Procedure: Unsharp Mask, 5.0 Radius, 0.5 Strength, 10 Threshold (Note: Experiment with this. May cause undesirable graininess)
    4.6 - Add Other…: Lens Distortion, -2.5 Second-Order Distortion
    4.7 - Add Change Format/Compression: Jpg, 85% quality. (Experiment around to find largest quality at under 600k. May also help to reduce below 1100 pixels)
    4.8 - Add Folder containing LP Jackets
    4.9 - Choose the output folder for finished images that will be added to discogs.
    4.10 - Apply.
    4.11 - Remove directory, replace with directory containing rest of images (labels) and remove Lens Distortion procedure as set in 4.6
    4.12 - Apply, Upload to discogs if satisfactory.
  • Diognes_The_Fox over 4 years ago

    Bumpin it.

    Good morning everyone.
  • DIFFO over 4 years ago

    Wow

    Your having more luck than myself, I had better results with my Blackberry smart phone, saying that I haven't ever really got on with my Nikon SLR with indoor artificial light for some reason

    My close up pictures in most cases in indoor artificial light nearly always come out showing colours that should t be in the picture, wash out, bleached and making the image colour totally indifferent to what it should look like

    I'll review your findings, if it works out I'll upload some pics here, if not, Im on the market for something more simplistic like a Nikon Coolpix, or just give in completely

    Thanks

    John
  • SeRKeT over 4 years ago

    SeRKeT edited over 4 years ago
    i only ever scan stuff so i can't be of much help, i tried with my camera and it proved more time consuming
    for me with light being the main problem, so i have to say well done for doing tests
    with a camera not a scanner, that must have taken some time :)
    i also use Gimp and prefer it to photoshop.

    Diognes_The_Fox
    One of the major issues I am still struggling to overcome is metallic text showing up as a flat grey.


    i would love to know how to edit pictures after being scanned
    to look like these for example are like a chrome look
    https://www.discogs.com/Duke-Ellington-New-Orleans-Suite/release/3041299#images/20944618
    the one above almost looks just right, i guess a camera took that
    because when i scan them the chrome look goes grey a bit like below
    https://www.discogs.com/Phineas-Newborn-Here-Is-Phineas/release/1456995#images/5541818
  • PabloPlato over 4 years ago

    Diognes_The_Fox
    2.5 - Power light sources on and position them to remove any glare on your subject and provide the most evenly lit image.


    2.5.2 tape a curved piece of mylar or vellum paper to your lamp shade to help diffuse the light. also consider compact fluorescent (CFL) so that lamp does not overheat and scorch your paper.

    can we see an image of a record and sleeve documented in this fashion? this is a new set up than what you would have been doing a few years ago, right?
  • Diognes_The_Fox over 4 years ago

    DIFFO
    My close up pictures in most cases in indoor artificial light nearly always come out showing colours that should t be in the picture, wash out, bleached and making the image colour totally indifferent to what it should look like


    I only shoot after dark now to eliminate any uncontrollable light issues. My house was built pre-electricity, so it was really designed to take in tons of natural light.
    The coloration issue might be able to be solved with white balancing. I bought a grey card which I either white balance before shooting or get a photograph of the card so I can batch apply down the line.

    SeRKeT
    i would love to know how to edit pictures after being scanned
    to look like these for example are like a chrome look
    https://www.discogs.com/Duke-Ellington-New-Orleans-Suite/release/3041299#images/20944618
    the one above almost looks just right, i guess a camera took that
    because when i scan them the chrome look goes grey a bit like below
    https://www.discogs.com/Phineas-Newborn-Here-Is-Phineas/release/1456995#images/5541818


    That's always how my scanned stuff turned out too. Photographing/scanning mirror-y surfaces seems to be a perpetual challenge.

    PabloPlato
    2.5.2 tape a curved piece of mylar or vellum paper to your lamp shade to help diffuse the light. also consider compact fluorescent (CFL) so that lamp does not overheat and scorch your paper.

    can we see an image of a record and sleeve documented in this fashion? this is a new set up than what you would have been doing a few years ago, right?


    Good idea! I'm going to try this.

    It's the system I'm currently using for images. It's still not perfect, but it's miles faster than scanning and deals with some of the issues introduced through image stitching for larger items like jackets.
  • berothbr over 4 years ago

    This is awesome!!! (thanks for sharing this!)
    Diognes_The_Fox
    I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert here.

    I disagree. Maybe you're not a professional photographer by vocation, but you've added 100,000+(!!!) images. Besides for maybe a handful of high volume eBay dealers, surely you must be THE expert at photographing Discogs-eligible releases.
    Diognes_The_Fox
    Brightness without washing out colors or creating glare or uneven lighting is another struggle.
    Needless to say, I can't even compare what I do with your method. However, I will say that semi-glossy labels with orange or red backgrounds (like on this Columbia LP) are always troublesome for me. Also, black and white labels with a grainy background like this one are ridiculously difficult to get (I must have taken like 30 images of its labels, and those horrendous ones are the best I could do).
    Diognes_The_Fox
    That's always how my scanned stuff turned out too. Photographing/scanning mirror-y surfaces seems to be a perpetual challenge.

    I'm not 100% sure, but I think it might have been mossinterest(?) who wrote elsewhere that they basically bought a cheap oversized flatbed scanner on eBay for an absurd price (like $2.00?) just for their submissions and seemed to suggest that it was like a game changer for them. I'd be interested to hear how that type of a setup compares with yours and especially about whether they've had any trouble with marking up the vinyl while attempting to scan the labels (as much as I enjoy Discogs, it's still all about the records, right?).
  • teninchfan over 4 years ago

    berothbr
    This is awesome!!!

    Yes! A really good and useful thread.

    I think about to build me a copy stand as you have, even if i am satisfied with the images i make now.
    It is sometimes difficult to get the right angle, right now i use a Canon EOS mounted on a tripod.

    berothbr
    I will say that semi-glossy labels with orange or red backgrounds (like on this Columbia LP) are always troublesome for me.

    I had these problems too in the beginning, difficult to get them good readable with contrast. After i use a scanner i haven't had these problems anymore e.g. here Janie Fricke - Somebody Else's Fire.

    I made some tests for 10" releases on a A3 photo-scanner and was very pleased with the quality i get there, think i will made full new images for all 10" releases i had with less good quality pics in the future. Example for scanning results Albert Lortzing, Orchester Der Städt. Oper Berlin*, Chor Der Städt. Oper Berlin*, Mathieu Lange* - Zar Und Zimmermann Opern-Querschnitt.
  • berothbr over 4 years ago

    teninchfan
    Example for scanning results

    Very very nice! Would you still use the flatbed scanner method if you were submitting a really nice copy of a hard to find and/or expensive record or is that not even a real concern?
  • teninchfan over 4 years ago

    berothbr
    Would you still use the flatbed scanner method if you were submitting a really nice copy of a hard to find and/or expensive record or is that not even a real concern?

    For 10" which i keep for my collection i will use that scanner - another positive aspect for my new job i will start next week. Also thought about to get one by myself, but this thing costs about 6.5k.
    Stuff i just submit to give away still be made with my Canon, as my 12".
  • Diognes_The_Fox over 4 years ago

    berothbr
    I'm not 100% sure, but I think it might have been mossinterest(?) who wrote elsewhere that they basically bought a cheap oversized flatbed scanner on eBay for an absurd price (like $2.00?) just for their submissions and seemed to suggest that it was like a game changer for them.


    If you can find one of those scanners, get it by any means necessary.

    You can somewhat easily find scanners that will get maybe get 12" of surface area. Usually those will tap out at 11.9" or something for actual scanning area. Those cost maybe upwards of like $50 - $300 or something. Those extra 0.2" to fit & scan a full LP jacket costs like $12,000.
  • SeRKeT over 4 years ago

    berothbr
    I'd be interested to hear how that type of a setup compares with yours and especially about whether they've had any trouble with marking up the vinyl while attempting to scan the labels (as much as I enjoy Discogs, it's still all about the records, right?).


    as already mentioned by others, scanning labels is a better option than taking photos
    a lot of the time as it can be quick and the detail is usually sharper (specially fine print)
    so sometimes sleeves too are best scanned, while i can understand that with a good setup taking photos of sleeves may save time i actually prefer scanning and stitching them

    a recent set of scans
    https://www.discogs.com/Various-Feel-Like-Rockin/release/4169151
    also, as long as you are careful, no damage is done to the vinyl/sleeves
    although i respect your concerns :)

    Diognes_The_Fox
    If you can find one of those scanners, get it by any means necessary.


    lol i am in the UK and i have had a few scanners for nothing from a site called freecycle

    some tips here as i have had a few scanners :
    Packard bell diamond scanners are completely crap and not worth the nothing you would get them for, avoid at all costs,
    i still have images to improve here after using one for a few months as it cost nothing :(
    http://thumbs4.picclick.com/d/l400/pict/332015845175_/Packard-Bell-Diamond-1200-Plus-Scanner-for-Win-Mac-Linux.jpg

    however HP ones can be had nice and cheap or even free

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IRyXmutTRT8/VaMtPxDa5II/AAAAAAAAEZY/aikRWfVkAao/s1600/HP%2BScanjet%2B5300C.jpg
    i have had a few in this model range and am still using one i have had for nearly 5 years
    that cost me nothing whatsoever :)

    Diognes_The_Fox
    Those extra 0.2" to fit & scan a full LP jacket costs like $12,000.


    i have never worked that out why it's so darn expensive for such a small difference,
    but the same can be said for LCDTV vs LCD monitor
    in uk a 40" TV is 250-350 pounds but monitors that size are twice the price or more,
    although big monitors are getting cheaper nowadays i am happy to see :)
  • berothbr over 4 years ago

    Diognes_The_Fox
    If you can find one of those scanners, get it by any means necessary.

    So absent serious Discogsedication (new word?) and/or a winning lottery ticket, you recommend going the flatbed route for 10"s, 7"s, CDs, and whatever other format lies flat and is less than 12" wide?

    (For what it's worth, the reason I'm interested in the flatbed option is that, when I'm editing/subbing a release with a 9 million credits/companies, I've been experimenting with OCRing the image and copying and pasting text into the submission form to see if it saves some time and/or makes it less tedious. At least with non-Discogs stuff, a scanner is a lot faster.)
    SeRKeT
    a recent set of scans

    You guys are embarrassing me! / very nice. (and thanks for answering what, in hindsight, was a lousy question).
  • azzurro over 4 years ago

    Depending on how solid the camera is positioned to the tripod/Copy Stand, and the amount of dark colours on the sleeve (and the amount of artificial lighting), a remote shutter (appr. $10-15) can help in stabilizing images.

    Personally, I only photograph during daylight, as I couldn't find a satsisfying setting for the white balance for my home lights (yet). Since I started to use a remote shutter myself, the number of (slightly) blurred images reduced significantly, especially when the shutter times start to lengthen. It seemed that pressing the shutter made the camera/tripod connection spring a tiny bit.
  • brahea over 4 years ago

    brahea edited over 4 years ago
    One very important point is missing. For the thousandth time: you have to embed the color profile (ICC) into the picture. But Discogs doesn't supported every color profile! Every picture on Disocogs hasn't a tagged color profil or in other words: color management doesn't work!

    "If you want your photos to be displayed correctly on all current devices - "sRGB" computer monitors, wide gamut screens, tablets, smartphones - and unlike an old habit, it is thus compulsory nowadays to incorporate an ICC profile to each image shared on the web. It will only be read by web browsers on computer screens but this way, your images will be displayed well even on wide gamut screens. However and because of tablets and smartphones, you need to keep on saving your photos in sRGB because it is the only color space that will be displayed correctly in their browsers because they still can't read ICC profiles except Safari on iOS (2016)."
    http://www.color-management-guide.com/web-browser-color-management.html
  • gratefultraveller over 4 years ago

    This is great info, thanks. The images I shoot with my digital camera do the job, yet they are only a temporary compromise until the addition of my collection to the database is completed. I was planning on getting a scanner, and this information is exactly what I have been looking for.

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