*Best way to capture images

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WilliamFrier
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Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 02 Jul 2019 11:59

What is the best way to make a copy of a certificate when you are out and about? I use Office Lens from Microsoft on my phone, which does a good job of taking a photo of the certificate, squaring it up if you take the photo from a bit of an angle and saves it straight to Onedrive for me. The problem I have when I get a hold of an old relatives certificate that their family are happy for me to have a copy of, the certificate is invariably stored in a folder or pocket folded 2 or 3 times so never stays flat. The advice I am looking for is more about how to get it flat enough to get a decent copy, in the short time I am there visiting. I know a scanner would be the best option, but trailing the one I had about with me was not an option and I found the camera on my phone gives better copies than the scanner did anyway and I used to have problems with some certificates not fitting on the A4 scanner anyway. Any advice?
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby tatewise » 02 Jul 2019 12:33

Take a bit of BluTack (other similar products are available) and stick the corners down to a table or worktop.
While fresh, it is easily removed without leaving a mark.

Or try those clear plastic document pockets usually with punch holes and A4 size but larger sizes are available.
That should hold documents flat, but beware of reflections off the clear plastic.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 02 Jul 2019 12:45

Great advice Mike, so simple. Although A couple of the certificates I have been given including the original of my Great Gran's is looking a bit worse for wear and took about a week under a sheet of glass and some books to get it flat and all lined up again. But off to the shops for some Blu Tack as a starter.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby E Wilcock » 02 Jul 2019 12:48

I dont have an authoritative solution. Nor an apple office phone.

I read on line that in theory there is no difference in quality between a scan and a (large) digital photo taken with a good camera.
My images of certificates were almost all taken using a good slr camera. In the National archive one photographs documents and I use the camera for reproducing handwritten documents, diaries, letters etc. So if the camera is handy I use it.

But it is easier to get rid of the creases if one uses a scanner. So I have also scanned certificates and then used Photoshop elements (or another picture editor) to align and join the two images into one, just as one can combine 2 landscape photographs into a single panoramic view.

To hold documents flat or books open in the archives or British library, one uses cloth-covered weights or weighted tapes. I once bought some weighted tapes at considerable expense from a library supplier - but as far as I can see they are identical to the weighted tapes used to weigh down the lower hems of curtains and are sold in places that sell supplies for curtain making -

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby Gowermick » 02 Jul 2019 17:26

You could use a hand held scanner. I have one ( ION Copy Cat, handheld scanner) that I can ‘roll’ across a document, and its rollers control the scan. What is good about this method is that it can handle very long document with ease.
Also very good for copying small sections of large scale maps, which won’t fit in a flatbed scanner without folding.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby deckie49 » 02 Jul 2019 18:30

I had that issue of trying to capture folded documents while at the National Archives in Washington, DC. I was using my camera to make digital copies on a tabletop. I wish I had thought of Mike Tate's idea. Would have worked well, I think. I ended up using the weight of thin, oversized books on two sides. That worked quite nicely. When I returned home, I just cropped out the edges and straightened the images. I've tried the handheld scanners, but never had good results. I suspect if I practiced holding them steady and scanning at an optimal rate one might work well enough.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby Russell » 02 Jul 2019 18:58

As an alternative, given that lugging a desktop scanner to a relative's house even with a laptop might be too cumbersome for one certificate - and it may not be possible to borrow the document itself - why not think about a portable self contained scanner?

I use a Flip-Pal unit which can be used as a standard scanner for small photographs, and it will also cope with much larger documents as it has a removable lid and a clear base. The document is scanned in stages and stitched together using the supplied software.

Details of my unit can be found at https://www.flip-pal.uk.com/home though this brand now seems to be thin on the ground. An identical model can be found here - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00E00FSDU/ref=dp_prsubs_1

It is battery powered and no computer is needed for the actual scan.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 02 Jul 2019 21:32

No definitely Office Lens for me, phone is always in my pocket, quality is very good (Way better than the scans I have downloaded from ScotlandsPeople) partially due to good camera on the phone, auto cropping/straightening and obviously the auto back up to Onedrive. It was more the best way of getting what I am taking a photo of flat and at the moment Blu Tack is winning, come on is this the best the cream of FHUG can come up with :?: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by WilliamFrier on 03 Jul 2019 06:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby David2416 » 03 Jul 2019 05:27

I would use the white version of BluTac.
Alternatively use cling film to secure to a stiff board, or large book.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby Gowermick » 03 Jul 2019 06:44

David2416 wrote:I would use the white version of BluTac.
Alternatively use cling film to secure to a stiff board, or large book.

David,
I like the cling-film idea! I’d never thought of that, sounds extremely useful :D
Thanks
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby mjashby » 03 Jul 2019 06:56

Blu-tack is greasy and invariably leaves some residue/staining, or can easily lead to tearing or other damage when used with older/more fragile documents, plus they can never be completely flat with blobs of foreign material stuck underneath. Can't imagine any archivist recommending that approach to conservation.

Try a covering documents with a sheet of tracing paper and then carefully use a warm dry iron to flatten out the folds/creases. It's what the butlers used to do with His Lordships Newspapers of a morning. (No steam please!)

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 03 Jul 2019 07:02

Would be easier taking a scanner than an ironing board and iron :lol:
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby ColeValleyGirl » 03 Jul 2019 07:03

You certainly won't be allowed to use Blu-tack or white tack at an Archive, but they should have the lead weights available.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby E Wilcock » 03 Jul 2019 07:52

As I said above. One can buy these lead weights and lead weighted tapes that they have in libraries and archives - I have three in my dining room drawer.
The disadvantage is that they do show in the image. But they dont cast much shadow.

I too would advise people not to use blue tack and I would not iron an old document either.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby Russell » 03 Jul 2019 11:19

As well as considering the advice on here, perhaps the document conservators at the local Record Office could be approached for their thoughts?

At the very least they would know the best way to flatten out documents.

I've just purchased at auction a number of large group photos of my Grandfather's WW1 regiment. Unfortunately they have been stored rolled up for most of the last century, so I'm going to have to be very careful in how I preserve them in the future.

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 03 Jul 2019 11:50

I had read your suggestion E and had already had a look for them, I was just having a bit of a laugh about the ironing (although can't speak for others) and it was more a quick fix for when I was visiting relatives I was looking for, so your suggestion was obviously just what I was looking for. I am quite sure the archives had already tried Blutack, clingfilm and an iron before finishing with what they have :lol: although I am sure a small blob of White Tack in the corners of a relatives certificate once, wouldn't do it any real harm, considering where most people keep their certificates.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby themoudie » 03 Jul 2019 23:08

Aye William,

Have a wee read of this link: Family_Archive_Preservation_advice

I suspect it all depends on what else is hidden in your relatives chest of drawers or leaky garden shed, wi' nesting swallows above! ;)

Good health, Bill

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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby WilliamFrier » 04 Jul 2019 06:23

Very Interesting Bill,

I was just commenting that most relatives I have visited, keep their photo's and certificates in a tin box (Christmas biscuits) or younger ones a plastic box in a cupboard and the Certificates at best are stored in a card wallet supplied by the register office folded in half twice, others are just kept with the photos folded to fit. Not that I am saying there's anything wrong with it, because the photo's and certificates are generally like new.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby E Wilcock » 04 Jul 2019 09:19

Looking through my images, I see that at home I use my kitchen weights. They are heavier and neater than the lead ribbons.
This was a time consuming effort to make images of letters sent home in the First World War which my father had stuck (grip fix paste) onto lined paper held in 4 ring folders.
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Re: Best way to capture images

Postby themoudie » 04 Jul 2019 22:41

May I add that circular glass paper weights work very well, are inert and smooth surfaced and will not damage documents, photos, maps or cloth articles. They are not cheap ~£10 for a set of four (4) + P&P & VAT.

An alternative, which is also not cheap, is a large piece of plate glass that can be used to weigh down items and used to flatten them. A glazier may be able to help supply a piece at lower cost than a specialist archivist suppliers. I use plate glass, as I have several pieces that have their edges ground smooth and also use others for grinding engine mating surfaces flat; but that is another story.

Cloth covered weight bags and snake weights do work, but I find do not exert the localised pressure and obscure the document etc that I often require.

Hope this helps.

My regards, Bill


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