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How To Scan/Photograph Stamps?

 
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Valued Member
Netherlands
222 Posts
Posted 10/31/2016   06:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Ricky93 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
How do I place the stamps on a black paper background?
Do I need to put the desired stamps on the scanner bed and place the black paper over it?

Is that the right way?
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United Kingdom
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Posted 10/31/2016   06:49 am  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, just get them straight, face down on the scanner and gently lay the black paper over them,
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Posted 10/31/2016   07:35 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
You may wish to adhere some black kraft paper to the lid of the scanner,
I have used blu tak, for my paper, it's been on for 6 years or so.

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Edited by rod222 - 10/31/2016 07:36 am
Valued Member
United States
79 Posts
Posted 11/02/2016   11:01 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bakechad to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This past weekend I spent a few hours working on scanning some stamps. After some trial and error, my initial findings are as follows:

- Scanning through Vario pages works with no problems and the black background helps the stamp stand out.

- I used a Canon Lide 120 and scanned at 1200 DPI and output the file as a uncompressed tiff. I was getting blurring on the stamps located on the edge of the sheet. I placed a Scott Catalogue on top of the lid, which eliminated this problem.

- I imported the file into Gimp. First I cropped and rotated each stamp. After I was satisfied with the with the crop, I applied an unsharp mask filter with the default settings. After that I applied a contrast of 15 to help the colors pop a little. I'm extremely conservative with the editing as I do not want to stray far from the original image, but these minor edits have huge impact on the quality of the image.

Once I finalize my workflow, I will thoroughly document it and post it.

Comments and critique are always welcome.

Here is a sample scan:


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Posted 11/02/2016   11:13 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Not bad at all. My only observation is that the white level appears to be a bit high, i.e., the highlight details (surface texture of the paper) is being lost.
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United States
79 Posts
Posted 11/02/2016   11:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bakechad to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Not bad at all. My only observation is that the white level appears to be a bit high, i.e., the highlight details (surface texture of the paper) is being lost.


Thanks for the input. I bet the unsharp mask is doing that. I'm going to experiment with turning the setting down a little or possibly eliminating it.
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Posted 11/02/2016   6:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Agree with above,
for the pedantic, your deskew is still a few degees out.
A perfectly aligned image makes for a great example.

I use Picasa for fine deskew on the fly.

Postmaster GS has a program that deskews multiple images.

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United States
30 Posts
Posted 11/03/2016   12:05 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add greenscatalog to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Without downplaying the effectiveness and ease of use of a good flatbed scanner, there are still applications where macro photography can be essential, particularly when oblique lighting is used to bring out surface textures. Case in point: a "blind" (uninked) overprint that depresses the paper slightly won't show up in a scan because the lighting is too even; you need to experiment with low-angle light sources instead, which requires a remote image-capturing device (a good camera on a copy stand or tripod). Furthermore, cameras combined with oblique lighting can more easily demonstrate differences in printing methods (offset lithography vs. recess, for example) because the resulting shots preserve a sense of depth and thickness of the ink that, again, is hard or impossible to duplicate with scanners. Of course, I diverge somewhat from the original poster's question regarding easy imaging for computer sales purposes; I just don't want us old-timers with our ancient technology to be completely discarded!
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United Kingdom
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Posted 11/03/2016   06:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Bakechad.
The stamp you have scanned has been printed using halftoning which is often used in magazine printing so you see the individual coloured dots.
There is often a desceening option in scanner software to reduce this effect if not required.
As these types of stamps are printed at lowish resolutions it may not be required to scan them at resoltuions above 360dpi.

This is not relevant for other types of stamps and my interest is mainly in engraved.

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Edited by AnthonyUK - 11/03/2016 06:31 am
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Posted 11/03/2016   08:00 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
When scanning stamps (regardless of how they were printed), all descreening and restoration filters need to be disabled. They can do very unpredictable things.

Regarding the French stamp just posted, the highlights are blown out even worse than the previous stamp. Paper surface detail is completely lost, especially along the top. Brightness is NOT a good thing. You want to preserve as much information as possible, not just of the stamp's printed design, but also the underlying surfaces.

A properly scanned stamp should appear lifelike.



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United Kingdom
1361 Posts
Posted 11/03/2016   10:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
You want to preserve as much information as possible, not just of the stamp's printed design, but also the underlying surfaces.


Well that depends on your reasons for scanning them which will be different for each person such as whether you are looking for philatelic purposes or just to highlight the engravers art
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Valued Member
United States
79 Posts
Posted 11/03/2016   11:08 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bakechad to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great thread!

Thanks to everyone who's provided feedback on my image.

I'm trying to find a balance between accurate reproduction and visual appeal for both myself and people I show my "digital album" to. I'm mainly viewing the final items as a PDF on various tablets.

To add a little more detail to my workflow. I scan with no settings on whatsoever, so that I have what I think is a true representation.

Then when I edit the file, I edit using layers in Gimp and save the file as an XCF (Gimp's native file format) so that I preserve not only the original scan but each step of editing that I do. That way I can turn the layers on and off to see what impact my edits have on the original image.

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Edited by bakechad - 11/03/2016 11:10 am
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Posted 11/03/2016   11:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I should add that that scan I posted above has had some post-processing sharpening and contrast adjustment so is not indicative of the raw scan.
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Posted 11/03/2016   1:22 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
bake,
You might want to reconsider building upon PDF technology. Right now, due to the large movement towards mobile devices like smart phones PDFs are a bit of a dead end.

Simply put, smart phone users don't want an exact replica of a printed document; exactly the purpose of a PDF and why so many people originally started using them. Instead users want the content to be optimized to any size screen (1600 pixel width desktop to 320 pixel smart phone).

You might consider moving to a responsive technology like html5 since this supports responsive design.
Don
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Canada
4718 Posts
Posted 11/03/2016   5:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
You want to preserve as much information as possible, not just of the stamp's printed design, but also the underlying surfaces.


I agree 100% revenuecollector and in my opinion
your scans are usually some of the best I've seen on
any forum.
But like AnthonyUK mentions some of us want to highlight
the engraved portions of a stamp since that is one
of our main interests in stamp collecting.
I want a sharp scan and as true to the colour of the actual
stamp as possible.
I don't really care whether the texture of the paper shows up,
detail of the engraving is way more important to me.

Here are a couple of examples I scanned today.

No 1

All adjustments off





No 2

Colour control set on continuous auto exposure
Auto exposure set on low.






I prefer number two.
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