Get rid of that ugly date stamp

One of my pet peeves is the ugly red date that sometimes gets stamped onto the lower right corner of a photo. (That, and people who talk in the movie theatre.)

Before digital cameras became popular, that date stamp was almost ubiquitous, since many 35mm point-and-shoot cameras burn the date onto your photos when you press the shutter release. Thankfully, those days are largely behind us. Digital photos have the time and date they were taken embedded in metadata, so you can find that info by checking the file details on your PC.

But if you use a scanner to convert your old prints to digital images, you're going to run across photos with that old date stamp. And believe it or not, I still see the occasional digital camera that writes the date in the corner of the photo, despite the easy access to metadata. If those date stamps bug you as much as they bother me, then you'll be pleased to learn that it's easy to remove them from your photos. Let's see how. (And if your camera stamps your photos with the date, be sure to check your user manual for instructions on how to turn that feature off!)

Just crop it away

The easiest way to eliminate the date stamp is to use your photo editor's crop tool. The date stamp is almost always positioned in the lower right corner of the image, where a little surgery might not affect the rest of the photo very much.

Date stamp Check out this old scanned photo. I bet we could crop it and not lose anything important -- in fact, a little cropping might help. I'll use Adobe Photoshop Elements for this exercise, but you can follow along in any other photo editor.

Date stamp removedClick the Crop tool (it's the tenth item from the top of the toolbar) and make sure the Aspect Ratio is set to No Restriction in the Options palette at the top of the screen. Next, click and drag a crop box in the photo until the date stamp is gone, like the image linked here.

Don't lose the date

Just because we don't want the date splattered across the front of the photo doesn't mean we want to lose that info. You can easily add the date the photo was taken to your image file's metadata.

One of my favourite tools for this task is Windows Photo Gallery, which comes with Microsoft's Windows Vista. If you don't use Vista, you can download Windows Live Photo Gallery -- a free, enhanced version of the Vista program.

Don't lose the dateTo add the date taken to the file's metadata, find your newly cropped photo in Photo Gallery. Right-click the file and choose Change Time Taken. Now adjust the date to match the original date stamp, and click OK.

Clone it away

Remove the date by using Clone toolYou might not always want to crop your photo to eliminate the date stamp. Instead, you could use your photo editor's Clone tool to wipe it out. Consider a photo like the one linked here. This beautiful scene was captured by reader William Horton from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The regular background behind the date makes it a great candidate for this kind of surgery.

Date cloned out of the picOpen the image file in your photo editor (again, I'll use Photoshop Elements). Choose the Clone Stamp tool, found in the 15th cubby from the top of the toolbar. Set the size of the clone brush to about 30 pixels (for larger photos, you'll want to increase the brush size) and Alt-Click an area very close to the date stamp. Then just paint the date away until all you can see is the rippling water, as in this photo.

When you're done, don't forget to add the date to the image file's metadata.

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