Monday, June 7, 2010

Nope, Not a Scanned Doc, a Photographed Doc

Last week, I decided I wanted some documents found in a Civil War Pension file scanned. Problem, the documents were longer than my scanner could handle.  After a bit of chatting with the WO's, I decided to try that new camera. 

In the past, with prior cameras, I have not had the kind of results I was pleased with.  I have used the camera to capture photos and such, both from books and from a microfilm reader, and as thrilled as I am to have the images, I tend to be greedy and want better.

So, I took the documents over to the table, by the door wall, lots of natural light and gave it a try. 

Results after tweaking with photo editing program. Cropped away the table, did a bit of auto enhance, size adjustment.  (You really need to click on the image on this one to see in better window.)  I have reduced to 8 inch wide, for blogging purposes.  It, in my opinion, is even better in the full octane version.  Enough better, that I now have another 35 images to process.

I used the macro setting, natural light (a good sunny day natural light), held camera above document without any angle involved (in other words, shoot directly down), steady shot enabled on camera settings (love that, always enabled!  LOL), tried to keep the documents square to table edge, so I capture them straight.  Squeeze the shutter release, don't jiggle the camera.  I also previewed each document as I took the photo, just to be sure I was happy with the results, if not, I could immediately retake.

I believe I will be reviewing files, pulling documents I have, and will be photographing a lot more over the next few months.  I like this so much better than "stitching" images.  Stitching takes some time and patience.  (No wise crack comments, please, on my lack of either, time or patience.  LOL)

This death record from Jamaica ties to the post, Oh, Those Wild, but Fun to Research, Lashbrooks , John Thomas Morris is the first husband of Catherine Boderick Morris Lashbrook.

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence



lindalee said...

You're right....excellent results. I can remember my Dad (who always seemed to snap photos that were out of focus) photographing old photos....they were I'll have to give this a try. Good tip!

Russ said...


Super article. Thank you.

Question 1: Guessing a Digital Camera, but did you note the settings when the picture was taken?

Question 2: Did you try a vertical picture, or against the wall vs on the table?

As you might guess, I have been considering this technique for my self.

I found a solution for the shaking problem. My digital camera has a remove clicker (wireless), that I found specifically for this purpose.

Since my genealogy software accepts JPG files, I can include these images into my software. But, I am taking one more step. "Printing" that JPG file to a PDF file do store with my genealogy files.

Thank you,


Carol said...


I will answer your questions in a new post later today.

Thank you for such insightful questions.

Scottish Genealogist said...

Congratulations on your steady hand - which I am lacking! National Archives of Scotland (West Search Room) are currently experimenting with allowing researchers to use (previously-banned) cameras to take non-flash images - this allows researchers to record documents without ordering up copies. I'll need to take my tripod, I think.

Mary said...

VERY nice! I may give this a try too.

Gini said...

Great job Carol! It looks as if you scanned it. Love those digital cameras!

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Excellent job, Carol! I'm going to try that SOON. I may head to the courthouse, and hope for a good window or good light. My digital camera (old, but reliable thus far) takes excellent photos in fairly low light when it is close to subject. I think I'll drag along my tripod, I'm not so steady as you some days! Great post! (it should save me close to $100 on copying if I can get it done!)