Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In Progress: Alfred's Family History Project

I'm back from Florida, and I have to say that for the most part everything went according to plan.  On one side of the family, I photographed all of the albums on hand, digitizing about 5,000 pictures. That was his father's side, and we were staying at the house where all those albums were located, which gave me the luxury of getting up early and staying up late, so my work could be split up into several sessions.  When you photograph pictures to digitize them, it's important that you take the picture from directly above so that you don't skew the perspective of the photograph.  That isn't the most comfortable position, so it was nice to be able to do the work in a few different sessions.

His mother's side of the family was a different story for several reasons.  1)  The pictures were just in a box, so I had to arrange them out on a table before photographing them, which increased the time between each set of images.  2) I only had one day, so I had to get all the pictures I wanted as fast as I could (not to mention get them processed and numbered).  So, I only copied about 1/2 of all the photos that were available to me.  3) The light wasn't great, so the quality of some of the pictures wasn't as good as I would have liked (though I did shoot in RAW and JPEG so there was a bit that I could do to fix that). 4) I was shooting in the middle of the living room with the whole family around adding color commentary (VERY colorful commentary), which slowed me down a bit too.  All that said, I did still get about 1,500 pictures captured.

The next steps were mostly the same for both sides of the family.  I pulled all of the photos into Photoshop Elements.  Using the rectangular select tool and new layer via cut, I made each photograph in each file its own separate layer.  Once that was done, I used an action that made a separate file of each of my layers.  When all of the photos that I wanted to discuss with the family members were open in their own files (but not saved yet), I used the process multiple files function to name/number/and save all of the files to a new folder.

The interview was the easiest part of the whole process.  We just pulled the pictures up in windows file viewer and went through them one by one as I recorded the conversation on my phone using Smart Voice Recorder (which is the same app I use to do the voice overs for my process videos). That was the end of the in person portion of the project. In total, I interviewed his mother's side of the family (mother, aunt, grandmother) as we went through 200 photos and his father's side (grandmother only) on 300.

Next, I had to edit the photos for printing.  I really underestimated how difficult this part of the process would be.  All of the old photos are totally different aspect ratios, so it took quite a bit of time in photoshop to get them all onto a 4x6 canvas for printing (just to keep the cost of the project down, I only printed 4x6 photos, I might go back into the database someday and print out some pictures in different sizes, but this is good enough for now.
That's as far as I got before I came home.  I severely overestimated the amount of time that I would have other people to watch my kids, so I couldn't get anything else done before I got home, but I can't complain about so much progress.