Genealogy: Digital image and folder naming strategy

10-17-2014 3-26-25 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

There is nothing more frustrating than spending several hours looking for one image that you really need.  Two key strategies will help keep your photos organized—naming your images consistently and sorting them into folders.

Create a logical folder structure
Folders are the best way to organize family history images.  I organize my folders very similar to the way I organize paper files, which make it easy to find and place images. My folder hierarchy is as follows: Continue reading

Genealogy: Digital media life expectancy

Genealogy: Digital media life expentancyA lot of ink has been spilled over the issue of media longevity. Media consumers and producers have placed a great deal of emphasis on seeking and promoting high longevity media. Ultimately, however, for a great many reasons, longevity is overrated as a desirable media characteristic.

  • Media life expectancy claims are statistical averages based on accelerated aging tests and can only provide a rough estimate of how long any particular piece of media will last under certain storage and handling. Continue reading

Genealogy: Keeping personal digital records

Genealogy: Keeping personal digital recordsYou probably have resumes, school papers, financial spreadsheets, presentation slides or other digital documents. You might also have digital copies of original hard copy documents such as letters, maps or family histories.

Some of this information may have enduring value.

For this type of information it is important to decide which documents to save. Think about different versions, such as drafts and earlier copies. Drafts, for example, can provide important details that do not appear in final versions. Continue reading

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 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: 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

Genealogy: Making a photograph look good—Rule 1: Get close, real close

Rule 1: Get close, real closeBy 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.

Have you ever thought about why you like certain photographs?  The answers are relatively simple and you can improve your images by following a few basic rules which you will use a majority of the time. Continue reading