Sunday, July 20, 2008
Pictures are worth ...
Still plugging away at scanning family photos -- once one gets started and develops a routine, it is not too hard. Of course there is the question of which images to single out -- and I have been doing the “pre-selected” shots so far, those which had been placed (albeit somewhat haphazardly) in albums. The bigger challenge will come when I start in on the boxes of photographs stored in the closet.
One series I have completed was taken on our family trip across the US and back via the Canadian highway, in 1970 (yes! 38 years ago!). I did a handful of the best ones and showed them to family members, who were so intrigued I was encouraged to do the whole lot, despite their less-than-professional appearance. Happily, some of the flaws are automatically corrected in the scanner, and cropping and otherwise “enhancing” them can improve matters considerably.
Richard Eastman, in his Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter strongly encourages the copying of precious photos in the TIFF format, which takes up a lot of space but results in a “lossless” copy which never is degraded, no matter how many copies of copies are done. He suggested using an external disk drive for storage, since they are relatively inexpensive and have enormous memory capabilities. I haven’t gone that far -- yet; the standard JPEG format is working fine so far. But I do understand his concern and may eventually re-do some of the most outstanding photos in that form.
It is smart to keep the original scanned image separate from subsequent copies. Then all the fiddling around with a picture -- cropping, color enhancing, attempted flaw erasure -- can be done on a copy. Fortunately, iPhoto on my Mac keeps the original automatically and I can always undo any or all my “repairs” quite easily. Picasa, Google’s photo-management application, does the same thing. ( As a rank amateur, I have not aspired to any of the more advanced photo management programs)
Back to our long-ago trip. We took pictures of each other standing in front of various campsite (and occasional motel) signs, as a sort of record of our itinerary, but -- where is Hanging Rock Campground? Or Lake Mitchell? Luckily, a Google search saves the day. (If you’re like me you do not go back and identify all your photos right after a trip, when the memory is still fresh. There is so much else to DO when you get home.)
While not the same as digging through old documents or browsing archives’ indexes online, this photo preservation project is a significant part of genealogy. Pictures are important to family history!