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How do I get high-quality images of archival materials


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Dear all,

I'm currently working in an archive to collect materials for my thesis, which deals with urban history.

While I have access to maps and photos, I don't really know how to get them in a high-quality digital format (to use them in my thesis).

I can take pictures (I have a nikon d3400) but I'm not able to scan or copy in the archive.

Any tips on how to deal with this? 

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First, talk to the archivist. You may need to pay for the archive to reproduce the image and grant you copyright.

Assuming you don't, does the archive allow you to use a tripod? If so, just use that and you can set up some really nice archival photos - though you may want to invest in a particular lens too.

If you can't use a tripod, one of the pieces of advice I've been given is to tie a string to your camera and tape a coin to the other end. Stand on the coin and pull up lightly on the camera to make the string go taut, stabilizing the camera and the image.

I have lots of other tips and tricks on how to do fun lighting effects to highlight erasures or palimpsests if that's your jam, but I suspect you're dealing with more modern documents.

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I haven't used a camera in years. I use my iPhone and it has worked wonderfully. When I want to make sure to have good quality scans, I use CamScanner because it automatically sharpens the image and freezes any movement of my hand. 

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