20 May 2014

Using the Cell Phone to Take Pictures of Microfilm

I spent a little time today at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield and was fortunate enough to have some research success. In addition to making paper copies from the microfilm, I decided to take pictures with my phone, just for practice.

I need to work a little on taking photographs from a microfilm scanner, but this is not bad for a first attempt from my cell phone.

The flash is a problem.

But it definitely was faster than making a photocopy and once I get a little better at handling the flash, this may be an approach to take. At least it may work in some cases.

I can use software to lighten up the image, so that is not a problem. The flash spot is a problem--that's going to be difficult to darken to make legible. Another difficulty is that I need to make certain that the camera is really parallel with the display so that there's no distortion of the image.

With items from a newspaper like this that are entirely text and which I probably will transcribe later, this approach may be workable.

For handwritten records that are difficult to read or with varying areas of darkness, think digital copies from the microfilm itself will be preferable. Although I may take both digital pictures with my camera and with the microfilm reader if that is an option.

Citation while making the image is a problem. The citation that is on this image was added later, not when I made the actual image.

One citation approach may be to take a picture of a handwritten note as to where the image was located. That way the record image and the citation image would be right next to each other in my files and the time stamp would help me to tell which item came from where.

Snapping pictures is great--but it can be too easy to snap, snap, snap without tracking where the images were taken from.

And then what would I have?

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