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The Daily Genealogist: Digital Cameras and Genealogy

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

This week we present an interesting article by NEHGS member Philip Hermann of Melrose, Mass., on using digital cameras for genealogical purposes.

Digital Cameras and Genealogy
by Philip Hermann

Today’s genealogist is faced with the challenge of digitally storing records. I have tried to use limited financial resources on equipment that will perform a variety of tasks — such as copying vital records and photographing tombstones. I started looking at cameras as a way of preserving important information. 

Some genealogical applications of a good camera:

1. Tombstone photos — Early morning or evening provides the best light for pictures of tombstones. Make sure to check both the front and back of the tombstone since there could be information on both sides. I also take pictures of the name of the cemetery at the front gate and the plot markers to help identify the tombstone location. You can use www.findagrave.com to make a virtual memorial at no cost.

2. Photos of documents — Preserve significant documents such as vital records, newspaper articles, mass cards, and school records by photographing and downloading them to a computer photo storage program such as Picasa. This free program allows the user to manipulate a duplicate of the photo without permanently altering the original. I use the text function to write names and dates on the copy of the photo.

3. Photos of photos — Many of my old photos are stored in albums with “magnetic pages.” The adhesive chemicals in these pages speed the rate of deterioration. All printed photographs are affected by handling, light, moisture, and chemicals. Digital storage of photographs on computers and portable memory devices will preserve them for future generations. When photographing photos, I find it helps to use a table lamp to provide lighting from different directions.

4. Family History — Use your camera to record the current members of your family. At family reunions, take pictures of the different generations. After downloading the images, use your photo program to label the names of family members.

My requirements for a camera would include the following:

1. Less than $300 and easy to use
2. Takes pictures in low light (in archives and libraries)
3. Fits into my pocket (I hate carrying equipment.)
4. Image stabilization function (reduces blurring)
5. Excellent close-up functionality
6. Large LCD screen display (3 inches)
7. Preview photos quickly on LCD screen
8. Useful for different types of shots (indoor and outdoor)
9. Easy process to download to computer
10. MP greater than 10MP (# of mega pixels = greater detail, larger prints) 

There are some outstanding digital cameras on the market that will meet all these requirements, including the Nikon Coolpix P310 Digital Camera, which features 16.1 MP (excellent detail), ultra-fast f/1.8 aperture glass lens for low light, and handheld image stabilization. There are other manufacturers that make good, easy to use cameras. Search the web particularly for cameras that take high quality pictures in low light. These cameras are constantly improving and their prices are decreasing!


The Daily Genealogist: From Basement to Battlefields and Beyond

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

After finding a large framed photograph of a World War soldier I in a storage room at the University of Regina, Professor Mark Brigham rescued it from being discarded and conducted a search for family members. He recently presented the picture to a descendant in Toronto. (An earlier story, which appeared before the descendant was located,provides additional details about the search.)

The Daily Genealogist: War Baby Whose Father Had St. Louis Connection Finally Gets Answers

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

Norman Spencer of Wales tracked down information about the American father he’d never known, a U.S. W.W. II army airman.

The Daily Genealogist: Eat, Drink, Cook: Elizabeth Gilbert on her Family’s Culinary Inheritance

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

This spring the author discovered her great-grandmother’s cookbook, At Home on the Range, published in 1947.

The Daily Genealogist: ‘Old Ironsides,’ 200 Years Later

(Stories of Interest) Permanent link
 
Powers Jean

Jean Powers
Associate Editor

A profile of the USS Constitution, commissioned in 1794, which earned the ‘Old Ironsides’ nickname during the War of 1812.

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