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Old Aug 8, 2007, 11:43 AM   #1
AndreLikesPhotos's Avatar
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Two questions that are semi related - Light Box and Page photos
One is.. do I need a lightbox for the work below.
I'm going to photograph each page in about 20 books.
And your advice, suggestions , or just ideas are welcomed
as long as they're helping me actually do the job.

The books are not rare or delicate. But they're hard to replace. And I'd like to have them on the computer so I can pack them away. Some are thick and hard cover. Others are
more like magazines nearly. The sizes range from about 6 x 7 inches to 10 x 12 inches (approximate). The thickness from 0.25 inches to 4 inches. (approximate).

I have two tripods. A full size where I can invert the center post if needed. And a small but sturdy travel tripod.

I do not have or can't find my remote : (
The only thing I can do is try to hold steady. Or there's
a slight delay in the shutter where I could , 1.push shutter 2. let go quickly 3. hope for the shot.
Or I could use the delay. It's 10 seconds and that will
quickly run up a lot of time although maybe I could push
the timer, turn the page and it would be ready to shot at
that point.. hmm might work.

I want to get a useful photo
of each page. My experience has been that a 1024 x 768 has been
'enough' to get a readable useful page as long as I save it
at my camera's maximum quality. What have you experienced?

The camera I'm using is an Olympus C750, 4mp.
It has two modes of closeup. I believe they both set lenses
within the camera to change from close to 'closer' .

I'm a research scientist, retired, so making things to solve problems is what
I used to do for a living. But before I reinvent the wheel I figured this was the best
path to ask for help right up front.

I have a ring light for the camera. I don't have a duplication stand. (The device with two lamps
and a bed where you put a book or item to be photographed)

I've had decent luck when occasionally I wanted a page or two from a book or magazine it
seems like I'll do better to plan my work with some thought about how to make the book
lie flat, how to get the focus as good as possible, and how to manage the camera so it's not
moving during the exposure.

Have any of you done a project like this where you shot a lot of pages and used a setup to help
you do it ?

I would be grateful and appreciative if you'd let me know how you did it.
If you used a web site to help you it would be great if you posted the link.
And for those who see a way to help feel free to post suggestions. Brainstorming is

Thanks and enjoy the day !


PS. I would really like to see some page photos with the camera specs like aperature, speed, etc . IF you happen to
know of anyone who does this kind of work OR a website which displays this kind of photo I'd like to see.
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Old Aug 8, 2007, 9:25 PM   #2
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Part of the difficulty is in keeping the page flat. The short focal distance tends to exaggerate the curvature of an open page. Close distances and short focal lengths also make for lens distortions. (fisheye type)

I have used a milling machine for this. Put down something to protect the book form oil first. Used clamps and magnetic bases to hold the book in place, and mount the camera to the mill holder. Extremely steady, with no worries about camera movement, and precisely adjustable. Lacking this, I would use my most stable tripod to hold the camera, with the book open on the edge of a table. Some type of block to keep the book open at 90 degrees ( to minimize page curve) would need to be made, with spring clip to hold open to the page.

Use b/w mode if available, with contrast set high. Light with clamp lights if your ring light isn't enough.

Sounds like a project. I only had one book to do for local historian, and it took a while. I was shooting .tiff files, though, so the book could be OCR'ed, edited and reprinted.

Edit: I would venture to guess that if you are living in a less rural area than I, that you will find your public library has, or has access to, a scanner which is made for this type of work. I had fun as well as a learning experience doing it with camera, but if something like a book scanner was available, I probably would have used it.

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Old Aug 10, 2007, 12:44 PM   #3
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Brian, thanks. Hope we get some more replies.

You're right and sound like you'd done it before.

Just brainstorming I almost think about a setup that goes
like this:

Use 2 cameras. One for each page side left and right.

I like your idea of using something to hold down the book.

So if I used a hinged but heavily weighted piece of clear
plastic it would hold down the page and I'd shoot through
the clear plastic. It sounds like I'm going into business.

There would be 2 sheets. |X|X|
The X is the plastic sheet and it's hinged at the top.
The | is the edge and center of the book.

I'm making this too detailed.

But the idea is to hold down the book pages good and hard.
The separate sheets are so they can twist or turn however
they need so they can conform to the flattened page.

The two cameras are so each can be angled to each page.
But maybe 1 camera would work.

Maybe 1 sheet of plastic would work.

I'll just bet that some company sells a product for $2000
that does just what we're talking about.
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Old Aug 20, 2007, 11:11 PM   #4
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I suggest a piece of matte glass. Lay it on the page and shoot through it. Can you afford a couple bucks for a piece of glass? Have two lights at 45 degree angle to illuminate evenly. You might get away with just one But I recommend two. Cheap desk lamps will work fine. Thats it. Its a tedious process doing page after page but once done you can pack those books away. Also have a pile of 8.5 x 11 paper handy to use as support as you flip the pages over. When you start, the cover and pages to follow need support to keep pages level.
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