Treasure Chest Thursday: Photographing a Small Scout Pin

Many of the treasures we have in our collection of family artifacts are small. When I say small, I mean about the size of a dime.

There are a couple things you can do. First, you will want to use a light box.

Light box for small object photography.
Light box for small object photography.

Next, you will want to turn off or take off your flash. The light filtered through the box will be sufficient. Next, you will want to set your camera to two very important settings. AV, for aperture priority, and Macro, for close up photography. Finally, drop the ISO as low as you can (80 – 100).

Place your object inside the light box and take a few trial photos. Make sure they don’t look blurry in your LCD when you press the playback button. Try zooming in in the review screen to ensure the quality of the photos.

Photographing Childhood Memorabilia
Cub Scout Award
f/4, ISO 80, exp 1/5 sec,  +0.7 bias
Center Weight Average Metering

Though I often dream of having amazing, professional quality photos. I realize that having a photograph of your object is good enough for the vast majority of family historians. It’s better to have this photograph than nothing at all. Cut yourself some slack. We should be patient genealogists after all.

Once you have a photograph that meets your needs, I offer one more recommendations. Crop the photo. No one really wants to focus on the background.

Photographing Childhood Memorabilia
Cropped Cut Scout Award

In looking back at this photograph, I would love to have adjusted the lights on the left side of the light box to provide more light to that side, rather than shadow. It’s okay to examine our work to see how we can improve. Now, all that’s left with this photograph is to record the experiences of Cub Scouting and put the photo and text together in the family files.

Good luck with your photography. Feel free to let me know the successes you have with your photography in the comments below.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Treasure Chest Thursday: Photographing a Small Scout Pin

  1. Jennifer,

    Ha, ha! I agree with the ironing board comment. I'm not a big ironing fan.

    I have used Photoshop to cut out the background on my Grandpa's military page. See this link:

    I used the image with the background on the page in his scrapbook featuring his wife and the bracelet he wore. See here (

    Whether you take the background out depends on what look you're going for and how much time you're willing to spend. Both ways can work. So, have fun. can't wait to see what you do with the box of Cub Scout stuff. Keep me posted.

  2. Feeling motivated to tackle my son's scout collection. He has a box full and he didn't even go on from Cub Scouts. What do you think about using Photoshop to remove the background and just keep the item?

    Also, best use ever for an ironing board! Much better than the intended one.

    Great post.


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