|The first snow seen from our front door|
The first thing we do each morning is calibrate the camera to make sure that everything is adjusted correctly for the best possible images. It takes about 10 minutes, and we do it two more times during the day as a precaution against possible changes due to bumps or jars to the equipment. Focusing needs to be SO precise--it's done clear down at the pixel level, and that's minute, considering we are using a 37-megapixel camera.
|Tools for calibrating contrast, white balance, focus, and color|
Then we begin taking pictures. We are working through folders of probate records. Since coming mid-July we've captured over 140,000 images--that's about 2,000 per good day. We work together as a team. While one of us does some final preparation of the documents, the other takes the picture. We switch positions often to relieve our legs and back from standing and bending over.
After approximately 400 images are captured, every 60-90 minutes, we “evaluate” them. The computer shows us a "slide show" of images, one per second. If we notice any problems, we flag them so we can go back and fix the problems. By the end of our evaluation, we have a good feeling that our images meet the quality standards. Here are a few errors we have to watch for:
Auditors don’t like to see the photographer in their images. Often we get in a hurry and will click the camera before our hands and fingers are out of the way.
|It looks like I got caught in this one!|
Not only do we need to keep our fingers out of the way, we can’t cast a shadow on the image either. This happens if we click too soon or get between the lights and document.
|A shadow lurking in the corner--AND it needs a clockwise rotation.|
We check rotation. The majority of the writing needs to read from left to right--“right-reading.” It gets to be quite a mental exercise, and time consuming, to determine which way is up.
|Writing in all four directions--how fun is that!|
Quality control requires adequate cropping, which means that the edge of the document must be visible all the way around. This image has one corner out of the crop.
|The top-left corner needs to be seen--the crop is too tight.|
We also need to red-flag documents that may have special issues such as glued or covered information, or damaged documents that make it difficult to read.
|150 years takes its toll on some of the documents.|
The tiff files of the images are huge, hundreds of megabytes each. At the end of each week we hope to have captured about 10,000 images. We transfer them to a portable terabyte hard drive and FedEx it to FamilySearch headquarters in Salt Lake City for auditing and storage in the solid-granite vaults tunneled into the mountains above Salt Lake City.
|A week's worth of work ready to FedEx to SLC|
At the end of the day, we are pretty exhausted. We fix supper, do a little of our own family history research, read scriptures together, and hit the sack about 10, grateful for being able to serve and for all of you back home who encourage and support us.
And THAT'S what a Record Preservation Specialist does, at least in our neck of the Indiana woods. Ann isn't comfortable with the title "specialist," since we only have had a little over a week of official training. That's what the Prophet has called us to be, though. We're hoping that as we work at it, we'll eventually "become" what we are meant to be. It's not too much different than "magnifying" any other calling. I believe Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley's words:
"If you will accept every call that comes to you within the Church, you will grow in a remarkable and marvelous and wonderful way. With responsibility comes growth, and the Lord will magnify you and make you equal to every responsibility which is given you."