Genealogy: Taking better digital photos overall tips

Taking better digital photos overall tipsBy Barry J. Ewell

The following are some basic tips to consider the next time you head out with your digital camera.  These tips are easy to implement and make the biggest difference in your use of the camera in you genealogy research.

Be prepared. Gather everything you’ll need, such as a tripod, extra batteries, and any props you’ll use. (A camera bag really comes in handy for transporting everything.) If you plan to take photos in wet weather, bring a plastic bag to protect your camera.

Hold your camera steady. Camera movement causes most of the blurry pictures you see. Prevent your camera from shaking by planting your feet firmly on the ground, and then steady your upper body by tucking your elbows in close to your sides. If you feel unstable, use a tripod or try leaning against a wall or a tree. Gently press the shutter release in one motion; if you press too hard, you could jerk the camera downward. Continue reading

Genealogy: Taking better digital travel photos

Taking better digital travel photosBy Barry J. Ewell

You don’t have to travel far to find fascinating nature and wildlife … just head into your backyard and look around. No matter where you live, outdoor photography will help you look at your world with new eyes—and improve your photo-taking skills, too.

Prepare for take-off. Before your trip, review travel guides and photos in books and magazines so you can make a list of potential shots ahead of time. When you reach a photo location, scout the area to plan your approach before shooting.

The right lighting is crucial to creating stunning photos. Consider the best time of day for your desired shot. For example, if you must have a photo of the Eiffel Tower while in Paris, shoot just before sunset or shortly after sunrise. The light during this time can lend everything a beautiful golden hue. Continue reading

Genealogy: Taking better digital outdoor photos

Taking better digital outdoor photosBy Barry J. Ewell

Using light to your advantage is what separates good photos from great ones. The best times to take pictures are usually early morning and early evening; the worst time is generally midday, when light is most harsh.

Let your camera be your guide. Many digital cameras have technology that allows you to create pictures that look more like what you see with your own eyes. It balances brightness, preserves contrasts, and ensures details aren’t lost.

Digital camera’s white balance can help make photos look more realistic no matter what type of light you’re in. Sun, shadow, dawn, dusk—Digital cameras with this breakthrough technology will automatically find the right setting for each shot.

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Genealogy: How to preserve your own digital materials

How to preserve your own digital materialsBy Barry J. Ewell

Our photo albums, letters, home movies and paper documents are a vital link to the past.  Personal information we create today has the same value.  The only difference is that much of it is now digital.

Chances are that you want to keep some digital photos, e-mail, and other files so that you—and your family—can look at them in the future. But preserving digital information is a new concept that most people have little experience with. Continue reading

Genealogy: Photographing family gatherings

Genealogy: Photographing family gatheringsBy Barry J. Ewell

For over 40 years I have used the camera to capture the lives of my family and friends.  The camera has been a very important tool in my professional career in public relations and advertising.  I first started with a film camera and spent hundreds of wonderful/fun hours in a dark room developing and printing my on prints.  Since the late 90’s I have used the digital camera extensively in to aid in my genealogical research.

I would like to share with you a few of the lessons I have learned when photographing family gatherings. Continue reading

Genealogy: Use your camera to document your research

Use your camera to document your researchBy Barry J. Ewell

Use your camera in your library, archive, or museum research.

Consider using your digital camera as a tool for documenting and capturing information you find in your research. If you have never used your camera in your library research, practice in your local library under all types of conditions, including very low light. Again, the time to learn isn’t at a cemetery 2,000 miles from home.

Digital photography is all about lighting and location
The first problem you will always face when it comes to photography is lighting. I use flash less than 10 percent of the time. Instead of flash use natural lighting (near a window), light stands with diffusion screen and lights, or a self-contained photo Continue reading

Genealogy: Making a photograph look good—Rule 2: Photographic composition

Photographic compositionBy Barry J. Ewell

If you’re like me, photographs decorate my home and office. Photographs are part of every medium we consume from books and magazines to newspapers and calendars.  Pictures communicate our thoughts and feelings.  Within genealogy, the photo is used to document our sources and provide depth to our family history as we record and tell our history.  The only boundaries are within one’s own mind. Continue reading