Digitize Slides and Negatives with a Digital Camera
As the ‘Bloginator’ for the Ontario Ancestors Conference, I posed a few questions to our Speakers. It’s been a real treat to learn how different people approach genealogy and their special interests. A bonus has been to hear about some personal stories, too.
Question 1: A brief Bio:
Art Taylor studied Cartography and has been interested in maps and mapping for decades. He has collected atlases, gazetteers and books about cartography.
Question 2: What or when was the moment that you became interested in pursuing your family’s history?
In 1988, my brother and I sold the family home we’d grown up in. I rescued several large cartons of family photos and postcards saved by our mother. Many of them were glass negatives and assorted prints made by our maternal grandfather, who had built that home in the 1930s.
The collection includes many CDVs [carte de visite*], dating back to the mid-1860s, some of which Mom had tentatively identified as family members. While trying to confirm her identifications, and to identify people, places, and events in other photos, I became interested in digitizing the entire collection, as well as my own 50+ years of mainly Kodachrome slides.
*carte de visite : A carte de visite is a photograph mounted on a piece of card the size of a formal visiting card—hence the name. The format was patented by the French photographer Andre Adolphe Eugene Disdéri (1819–89) in 1854. [How to spot a carte de visite]
An Epson 2480, followed by a V-600, flatbed scanner, did a reasonable job, but proved to be too time-consuming, with an average of 3 to 4 minutes to digitize each slide. Prints and negatives took similar lengths of time.
Question 3: Please provide a bit of insight into what your talk will provide
Several years ago, I discovered Peter Krogh’s The DAM Book and his work using digital cameras instead of scanners to quickly digitize photos.
About then, I also became aware that the Center for Railroad Photography and Art was also using what is known as “camera scanning” to digitize their hundreds of thousands of slides, negatives, and prints. They had been using an Epson V700 or V750 flatbed scanner, but had found the scanning process too time consuming and not yielding as much image quality as they get with camera scanning.
Further research into the topic has lead me to try it for my own photo collections.
Question 4: Do you have any tips for first-time genealogists?
As I’ve found information about various family members, previously unknown to me on postcards and photos, I realize the potential treasures awaiting genealogists and family historians in their photo collections.
It’s far easier to view, enlarge, and share digital copies than unique originals, so don’t toss your photos before getting them digitized.
Great advice Art! I was also fortunate to rescue a
photo collection and look forward to hearing more about
how to preserve these treasures.