As I have sought to learn about my ancestors, I’ve been fortunate to travel to some of the areas where my ancestors lived. I have had the opportunity to do on-site research at local courthouses, libraries, genealogical societies, family cemeteries, and long-ago home sites—as well as meet new “cousins.”
These experiences have ranged from half-day excursions to a month-long stay. I have used the full extent of resources including photocopiers and scanners to digital cameras. The appropriate tools were dictated by the keeper of the records/situation, fragile one-of-a-kind nature of materials, time available, and the purpose and use of the image.
Defining digital imaging
- A picture is encoded as a series of numeric values, with each value representing some aspect of a tiny spot in the picture.
- Images are acquired by scanning–or ‘digitizing’–a printed image.
- Once digitized, the image is just a series of numbers, and those numbers can be copied by others without any further loss of data.
- Copies can be copied over and over again as long as the data is transmitted (copied) without error.
- Digital images may also be transformed, manipulated, and combined in various ways, making them a versatile and convenient format for preserving images.
- Storage can be in various computer formats, but the most stable and long-term form currently available is CD/DVD.
- It is currently believed by many that images encoded on DVD/CDs will continue to be available, with absolutely no degradation, a hundred years from now.
The digital advantage versus film advantage
Film cameras have
- Reoccurring film costs.
- Processing costs.
- Wasted shots.
- Full rolls of film to expose before you can see any of the pictures.
- Film expiration dates to worry about.
- Necessity of protective film bags when passing through airport security.
- Negatives or slides which are easy to scratch and collect dust.
After exposing a roll of film with 24 or 36 pictures
- You have to reload the film camera.
- Take the exposed film to be developed.
- Pick it up and hope you have the pictures you wanted.
Most digital cameras
- Record and store photos on some sort of removable media card.
- Allow you to shoot numerous photos.
- Easily download images to a computer.
- Clear the card to be used again.
With a digital camera you can
- Look at the pictures as soon as you snap.
- Decide whether they’re good enough to keep.
- Reshoot (if images aren’t good) before you leave the library or cemetery.
- Create opportunities. (For example, you can visit relatives, have them pull out their old photo albums and take photos of them on the spot.)