Thursday, December 31, 2009

I love it when an experiment succeeds

Today I went into Jacksonville to the headquarters public library (a Library Journal "Star Library") to try something which some have been talking about on the Transitional Genealogist's Forum -- photographing an image on a microfilm reader screen.

JPL (Jacksonville Public Library to me; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is on the OTHER coast!) has a digitizing microfilm reader, but the images it produces are Adobe pdf images, and they tend to be rather stark. They can be hard to read when they are of old handwritten documents that have been subjected to bleed-through of writing from the other side, blotching where a scribe did not take care with his pen nibs, tearing, and worm damage. I prefer jpg images, which are not as stark, and which my Paint Shop Pro software can read and on which I can use NeatImage, a freeware program that is great for cleaning up cluttery backgrounds on images.

I took several photographs from Reel 148 of the East Florida Papers. I will be using the EFP extensively in my project on St. Augustine. I held the camera about 10 to 12 inches from the screen, and used mainly the "intelligent ISO" setting on my camera (a Panasonic). I took a few shots on the "macro" setting, but really there is not that much difference between the two. The shots taken with the "intelligent ISO" setting (mainly, there is a built-in light meter) may have come out only slightly better.

But the experiment is a success. Now I can bring the images home, load them on my computer, and use another nifty little program called Transcript to transcribe them. In Transcript, the screen is split between the digitized image at the top, and a work area for transcribing in the lower half. The transcriptions are saved as RichText files. I love it!

And I can work on the images at all hours, not just during library hours. I'm a night owl!

It is great when an experiment succeeds!

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