Genealogy: Photographing bound pages

Photographing bound pagesBy 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 in places such as local courthouses, libraries, genealogical societies, family cemeteries, and long-ago home sites and the homes of those who have a portion of the family record.

The following is the process I use with my digital camera to photograph bound pages.

Books can be a problem because the pages seldom lay completely flat when the book is opened to a normal reading position.

  1. Shoot book pages with the cover held up at about an 80-degree angle.  This allows the page you are photographing to lay flat.   Depending on the book,youmay be able to lay the book flat and photograph both pages at the same time.
    1. Note:  Double check your LCD to make sure that you can get the full page and that  there are no shadows on the page or other interference that would keep you from being able to read the page at a later date.
  2. Rotate the book so the spine is facing the back of the copy stand.
  3. Open the book to the first page you want to shoot:
    1. Make sure there are no shadows falling on the page.
    2. Hold the front, or back cover and the pages preceding the one you are shooting.
  4. Under most conditions you should be able to simply press the shutter button and go to the next page.  Depending on the light conditions, you may need to manually set your shutter speed to stay open a little longer.  If this is the case, set the timer and press the shutter button halfway down and hold in position for a few seconds to give the camera time to adjust the automatic focus and exposure settings.
  5. Check to make sure the focus is correct before pressing the button all the way down so the timer releases the shutter.