Photographing Documents

Welcome back everyone in HIST 4006! Another semester beginning means that the blogposts are due to start once again. I’m not sure how many of you recall, but in my blogpost reflecting on my seminar lead I mentioned wanting to start my preparations for my next seminar lead over the Christmas break. This unfortunately did not happen and as a result, I largely repeated the same process over again, stressing myself out the entire way! So, here is my pre-seminar blogpost.

This week we will be discussing photographing and digitizing documents. Our readings focused on a variety of topics from types of images to various digital technologies that can be used to capture these photos.

Our readings went over the definition and intended use for the file types TIFF, GIF, JPG, RAW, BMP and PSD/PSP. They highlighted the pros and cons of each, as well as detailing the various compression capacities each file format is capable of. The readings also discussed things to keep in mind when undertaking a digitization project including costs, legal issues, research, and preservation techniques among other things.

There are two types of compressions that were discussed in the readings: lossless and lossy. Lossless is a compression format that discards no information, whereas lossy is a format that accepts some loss of information in order to have smaller file sizes.

We were required to watch an assortment of videos this week as well, which explained various functions of some of the high-tech scanners that are available at some institutions. In addition to the scanners, some of the videos were propaganda that institutions were using to spread the word about their digitization efforts to a wider audience. Some of these were done successfully, and I found to be very interesting, while others were quite dry.

Some questions to consider for class tomorrow:

  • RAW images are commonly not compatible when switching between devices. Do you believe these are a valuable resource to consider when photographing documents? Why/Why not?
  • Some of the videos we were required to watch for class today, despite attempting to gather interest into digitization initiatives, were quite dry. What are some things about these videos that we should aim to avoid in our publicizing practices for our own exhibit? What are some things we maybe should consider adopting?
  • One of the articles we were required to read today stated that a large aim of the project they were working on was to bring access to these documents to audiences outside of academia to read ‘in coffee shops or on the bus’. Do you think this is something people will actually do? If not, what are some ways these institutions can encourage people to take interest in these documents?

 

See you all in class,

EJG.

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