When you visit libraries and archives, you often face a dilemma when you discover information about your ancestors. How do you make a copy of the books you find from the shelves.
Many libraries won’t let you bring a scanner or even use a copy machine. Some will let you photograph a book, only if you use a camera with no flash. In these libraries, these limitations can be overcome with a dSLR camera.
In the Ohio State Archives, I wanted to have digitized copies of pages in the Franklin County Cemetery books.
For each page I found, I ‘copied’ them with my digital camera. I used the following settings with great success:
- AV Priority Mode
- macro setting
- auto white balance
- f/2.8, exposure 1/60, ISO 100
The only struggles I had were keeping the pages flat. I wish I had a tripod so I didn’t have as many blurry pictures. Or, I wish I had a second person helping me keep the book flat so I could control my breathing to decrease the blur. Basically, if you let out a deep breath and then press the shutter release button on your camera after you hold your breath, you have less shake when you’re photographing still objects. I found a GREAT map in this book. Though it was primarily used to showcase where the cemeteries were located, I thought the map was wonderful to orient a non-Ohio native to the area. It was more of a sketch and included minimal information, yet just want I needed. I will use this for further research to understand where people lived and the relation it had to other areas simply within the county.
I wish I had checked this out before I went to some cemeteries as it had SECTIONS listed. That might have helped me out in places like Obetz cemetery.
Now, with subpar lighting conditions in the libraries and archives, you’ll have to learn how to do level adjustments in photo editing programs. But, if you have access to a dSLR, you can make fine tune adjustments that will help you capture great images without breaking any library copying rules.