Top Ten Cameras of the Recent Past

Perhaps it’s nostalgia, or the plethora of top ten lists this time of year, or the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of Eastman Kodak.  Regardless of the reason, I have decided to compile my own top ten list of the most iconic cameras of the second half of the last century.

#10 – Brownie Starflash, 1957, $8.50 org. price. The Brownie line was already popular with the average photographer.  Starflash was the first Kodak camera with a built-in flash (it used single use flash bulbs).  An estimated 10 million were sold.starflash

#9 – Nikon F, 1959, $330 org. price. This wasn’t Nikon’s first 35mm, but it is the one that made Nikon a name.  This hard-to-destroy camera soon became “the” camera of photojournalists of the 60’s and 70’s.  Aspects of this camera survive in today’s Nikon DSLRs.nikon

#8 –Kodak  Instamatic 100, 1963, $16 org. price.  This fixed focus, simple camera changed the snapshot industry.  The Instamatic line stayed in production for more than 20 years and is the reason that everyone over 40 knows what 126 film and flash cubes are.Kodak-Instamatic-100

#7 – Kodak Pocket Instamatic 20, 1972, $28 org. price.  Created to use their new line of 110 film, the Pocket Instamatic could (as the name suggests), fit in your pocket.  Never as successful as the original Instamatic, later models did introduce us to the flash bar.  Six years later, Kodak combined the two into the Ektralite line that included a built-in electronic flash.pocket

#6 – Polaroid Land Camera SX-70, 1972, $180 org. price. Edwin Land introduced us to the Polaroid in 1948, but this model was the first to use the new film that developed before your eyes.  The last camera was produced in 2007, but for 35 years all of the models used the same type of film and provided us with a sound that is immediately recognizable.polaroid_land

#5 – Canon AE-1, 1976, $357, org. price.  Forty years after the release of their first 35mm camera, Canon released the first camera with an internal computer. The CPU controlled exposure and the self-timer and was simple by today’s terms, but it was revolutionary in its time.  It is still a great camera and fairly easy to find (over 5 million were sold).CanonAE1Pgrm-Joe

#4 – Kodak Disc 4000, 1982, $68 org. price. Everything on this camera was automatic (the film advance, the focus, the flash), but the relatively expensive film produced inferior photos.  The development of fully automatic, snapshot cameras that used the far superior 35mm film meant the end of the disc cameras in less than five years.Kodak_Disc_4000

#3 – Minolta Maxxum 7000, 1985, $965 org. price. Despite its hefty price tag, Maxxum 7000 modernized the 35 mm SLR with an autofocus that really worked.  Others had tried, but Minolta succeeded and all of its 18 interchangeable lenses focused quickly.  The Maxxum soon became the target for competitors and was eventually surpassed, but still has its spot in history.Minolta_Maxxum_AF_7000

#2 – Fuji One Time Use Camera, 1990. Fuji was not the first company to introduce single use cameras, but they were the most successful.  The cameras originally used 110 film, but were soon made with 35mm film in a variety of speeds and eventually included a built-in flash.  While their popularity has waned over the years, they are still in use today.fuji

#1 – Kodak DC-40, 1995, $600 org. price.  Kodak’s first consumer digital camera took photos at a whopping 512 x 768 resolution with an internal memory of 4 MB.  The camera was 6” x 5” x 2” and weighed over a pound.  Ironically, it was the change from film to digital that helped bring on the demise of Eastman Kodak.

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Leaves, Pumpkins and Other Orange Things

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The variety of trees in the Ohio River Valley usually provide a wonderful display of color each fall that brings out the photographer in all of us.  Even if this summer’s drought leaves us with a more subdued show, here are some tips to get the most out of your fall photos:

  • Use a polarizing filter (DSLR) or the “vivid colors” setting to enhance the colors and filter out reflections (remember to change the setting back when you are finished).
  • Like all outdoor photography, the best sunlight is very early in the morning or very late in the day.
  • Overcast days usually result in a more saturated (bolder) color; just don’t include much of the gray sky in your photo.
  • Close-up shots on individual leaves can be very interesting; be sure to use a macro lens with a wide aperture (small number) or your camera’s macro setting.
  • While an expanse of different colors may look wonderful to our eyes, it will not transfer to a photograph.  Be sure to include something other than leaves in your photo like a road, water or some sort of structure (covered bridges work exceptionally well in fall photos).
  • Fall flowers like mums are always popular subjects; be sure to kneel so you aren’t shooting down on them.
  • When photographing scarecrows or a stuffed dummy, use the photography rules for people (fill the frame and don’t crop at the joints).
  • Fill the frame with your jack o’ lantern and try several angles to maximize spookiness (shooting from below is usually good).  For best results, don’t include the candle in your shot and take the photo before it is totally dark.
  • Take advantage of the full moon on October 29th and include it in your photographs.
  • Arranging your shot is not cheating.  Feel free to move things where you want them.  If the wind didn’t blow the leaves in that creek, add a few and take the picture (no one will ever know).

Protecting Your Photos from Disaster

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The tornadoes and downpours of this spring and last month’s Hurricane Issac have gotten me thinking about disaster planning.  In this part of the country we don’t have the luxury of the advance warnings that usually come with hurricanes and wildfires.  Our disasters tend to happen quickly – tornadoes, house fires and floods.  After confirming the safety of our loved ones, the next thing that most people think about is the loss of important personal items including photos and movies.

Water damaged photos can be salvaged, but one needs to work quickly.  If the photos are allowed to dry or grow mold, the damage is probably irreparable.  Traditional photographic prints should be cleaned by dunking them into tanks of clean water (rather than running water) and placed on something absorbent to air dry (plain paper towels are fine, just blot any excess water away first).  They will curl but can be flattened out later. Photos should be removed from albums while still wet to prevent them from sticking to the plastic cover.  In the case of heirloom photo albums, take apart the album and clean and dry each page following the same steps listed above.

While this is the ideal method, you may not have the time, space or desire to clean and dry everything immediately.  In this case, you’ll want to freeze your photos in a Ziploc bag.  Be sure to place a piece of waxed paper between the photos in stacks so they don’t adhere to each other.  Removing prints from albums and then freezing them is better, but you can freeze a whole album if you need to.  Remove the photos from the bag to thaw them and follow the above steps.

As they say – the best defense is a good offense.  A salvaged photo will never look as good as it once did and in the case of fire, may be missing parts.  A qualified photo restorer can do wonders, but it’s easier and cheaper to have a digital copy to begin with.  All of your digital photos and movies should be backed up on an external hard drive and stored off-site or in a fireproof box bolted to the basement floor.  Analog items (traditional prints, films and VHS) should be digitized and stored.  Yes, it is a time consuming and often pricey solution; professional scanning costs but it saves you time and energy.  For a faster alternative to scanning, take a digital photo of the print.  For best results, don’t use the flash and make sure the print and your camera are level.  It won’t be as good as a scan from a quality scanner, but at least it’s something.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

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I know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and that the positions and times differ throughout the year.  I know that the moon does the same throughout its 28 day cycle. I also know that the full moon will rise exactly where the sun did six months prior.  My knowledge of astronomy isn’t bad for a psychology major; but somehow, I never could wrap my mind around it. I’d take charts with me on vacation and end up looking in the sky and guessing.  Those days are gone thanks to The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) – a graphical sun and moon calculator developed for photographers by a photographer.

Unlike many online ephemerides that force you to choose from a set list of places, TPE uses Google Maps to search for and plot any place in the world. As such, a data connection is required to display the maps, but it will hold your last place and display the basic information without a connection.  That basic information – moon phase, sun and moon rise and set times and the angles for these events would be enough to make TPE a useful tool, but there is so much more.  A slider tool displays the paths of the sun and moon over a 24 hour period or a one hour period for more detail.  In other words, you can plot where the sun (or moon) will be at a given time, at a given place, on a given day with little effort.  In addition to the path lines, the azimuth and altitude are listed for precise placement.  Azimuth is measured in degrees and might not be a familiar concept. Just think of a circular map – the very top is North (0⁰), East is straight right (90⁰), South is the very bottom (180⁰) and West is straight left (270⁰).  Azimuth combines with altitude (how far above the horizon something is), to give you the exact position of the sun or moon. The feature that puts TPE in a tie for the title of coolest app ever (Star Walk is the other), is its ability to adjust rise and set times for changes in elevation.  When and where will the sun rise over this mountain? When will the light of the setting sun hit this meadow? When and where will the moon come into view over these buildings? TPE can make these calculations for any day of the year. Granted, this requires some work, but there are tutorials on their website and on YouTube.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris has become an integral part of my outdoor photography. The usefulness for landscape photography is clear, but I use it for weddings too.  Never again will I have to drive to a location a few days early to “see where” the sun is. TPE can be downloaded to your computer for free from photoephemeris.com and is available for iPad ($8) and Android ($6).  The tablet versions are optimized for touch screen and gyro sensors for increased functionality and worth it at three times the cost. Now all I have to do is reconfigure the camera bag for my trip to Acadia National Park; I’m sure I’ll get the iPad in there somehow.

Graduation PhotoShows

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The graduation slideshow has become de rigueur for the late afternoon, hosted by your parents, no you can’t leave yet, party.  While the embarrassment of your student is, admittedly, one of the desired outcomes; you want that embarrassment to come from potty training photos and bad haircuts, not from watching a boring slideshow.  Here are some tips to make yours memorable for the right reasons:

It will take longer than you expected – a lot longer.  It’s not brain surgery, but it does require skill and creativity.  Be prepared to spend some time learning the software you decide to use. Most of the programs you can purchase are similar; Windows Live Movie Maker is a pretty good free program.  If you do not have a working knowledge of computer file types, plan to spend even more time.

Consider hiring someone to make it for you. In addition to taking skill and time to create, it will be emotionally draining.  Trust me, I’ve made these for family members and cried the entire time.  It plain wears you out.  As a bonus, when someone else makes it, you get to be surprised with everyone else.  Sure, you know what photos and songs will be used, but you haven’t seen it put together.

Decide which photos to use before you begin.  Don’t waste your time scanning photos you won’t use. Go through your photos several times and weed out unwanted and similar shots. In general, close-up photos work better than group or distance shots.  Be sure to include “milestones” like the first day of school.

Establish a working plan. Most shows display the photos in chronological order, but I’ve seen them grouped by subject matter too.  It is easiest to scan them in the order of display and give them a meaningful filename.  If you borrowed photos from other people, scan one person’s photos at a time for an easy return.

Use the effects sparingly.  A common rookie mistake is going overboard with the effects and the captions.  We are all happy that you learned a new skill, but too much can distract from your show.

Don’t obsess over the timing or ordering.  It’s alright if you end up with a few photos out of order.  Most people won’t even notice and those who notice won’t care (if they do, they are perfectly awful people and shouldn’t be invited to parties).  Don’t try to match every photo with a lyric; it will just add time and most people won’t notice.  That said, having a few is kinda cool (I was very happy with myself when I matched up “blowing out the candles on another birthday cake” with a photo of the same.  I pointed it out to several people; they were not as excited as I.).

Choose the songs wisely. Go easy with the slow, crooning ballads; overused, overly sentimental songs can drag down a show. Use some up-tempo tunes and be sure to include some new songs.  Here are 10 songs from the last 10 years:  My Wish, Rascal Flatts; September, Daughtry; Raise Your Glass, Pink (it’s Pink, so use the clean version); My Best Days are Ahead of Me, Danny Gokey; Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield; Times Like These, Foo Fighters; 100 Years, Five for Fighting; We Are Young, Fun; Say Goodbye, Skillet and Time of My Life, David Cook. Whatever music you use, put it in after the photos are arranged.

Edit frequently and keep it short. Your goal is a 10 to 20 minute show; after that people start to get bored.  Most photos need to be displayed for only 4 or 5 seconds (detailed or captioned photos will be longer).   Playback your show repeatedly and delete or change anything that slows it down.

Test it early on the player you will be using at the party. A burned DVD will work in most players, but you still need to test yours beforehand.  It will take longer, but select a slow burn speed to improve player compatibility.

When it’s over, see if the men are holding back tears; if they are, you did well!

Organize Those Digital Photos!

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For those of us who remember taking photos on film, the embrace of digital photography has certainly been a change in kind rather than degree.  It may surprise us to hear that many brides do not want the traditional wedding albums that their mothers had (last year I didn’t sell a single one!).  Our photos do not live in albums anymore; they live in our computers and the city is in desperate need of some urban planning.

To continue the metaphor, the first thing to do is get rid of the eyesores; do this without mercy. We take many, many digital photos, but taking them should not necessarily mean keeping them.  Start by deleting the blurry photos and continue onto the duplicate shots.  Keep only the best.

Next, create multiple, self-contained neighborhoods to minimize sprawl (separate folders in My Pictures). Take some time on this step; you are designing the street hierarchy of the city.  I think that big events make the best folder categories (Holidays, Vacations, Graduations…).  Within each broad category, include meaningful sub-folders (Holidays à Easter àEaster _2012). When you get down to the street name (the lowest folder in your hierarchy), give your photos an address (rename the files).  So my photos from this Easter will live in the Easter 2012 folder and be named: easter_2012_01, easter_2012_02 and so on. To rename all of the photos at once, look for a “batch rename” option in the software that accompanied your camera.  In Windows: sort all of the files by date in ascending order (this is probably your default setting), select all of the files, right-click on the first file and choose “Rename.” Give that file the desired name and press enter; Windows will give that name to all of the photos with a number (1, 2, 3 …).

Now you need to create a city directory (add metadata to make your files searchable). As we discussed last month, metadata is in the “Details” tab of the “Properties” listing (right-click on the file). Your camera will have added quite a bit of information about the photo, the most useful are the time and date (check your camera regularly to make sure it’s right). If you want to add a description of the photo, make sure it’s additional information.  For example, don’t waste your time adding “Easter 2012” to the comments and title sections, that’s already in the filename.  Add something extra, like where the photo was taken or who is in it.  For Windows Live Photo Gallery users, tagging photos (adding keywords) is the way to go (every computer running Vista or newer should have this factory installed).  Its biggest selling point is the ability to save custom tags; this increases the chances of using the same keyword each time. I find it preferable to use tags with new photos and comments/titles with older (scanned) photos; I tend to write in complete sentences for the older photos rather than use keywords.

Finally, now that you have established the statutes of your photo city (Picturopolis?, Jpegville?, Tifftown?), you must abide by them.  Follow the same steps each time you import photos from your camera and you’ll be winning public design awards before you know it.

Family Photos in the Digital Age

Family Photos

Your family has elected you “Keeper of the Archives.” There are several ways that this could happen, the most likely are: you have an advanced degree in History or Library Science, you are the oldest child, you own antiques, you have a ton of photos on display, you show any amount of interest in your great-grandparents, and/or you have the skill or interest in preserving old photos by scanning them. Some of us meet all of these criteria; we never had a chance.

You have two choices: buy a scanner, software, read up on digitizing photos and spend hours doing it yourself; or save yourself the headache and hire someone to do it for you.  Either way, you’ll have one jpeg file for each photo.  The good news is that you can burn the files on a disc and share them with all of your cousins, display the photos in a digital photo frame and post them on Facebook. The bad news is that you lose the back of the photo or album with all of the information.

Enter metadata. Metadata is data about data that is a part of the file, in this case, it’s data about the jpeg file that resulted from the scan.  Windows provides the easiest way to edit the jpeg’s metadata. Simply right click on the file, select “Properties” and then select the “Details” tab.  You will see that you can enter a title, subject, tags, comments and the date taken. Date is easy; overwrite the scan date with the actual date of the photo.  Tags are keywords used to describe the photo; if you add any, think general subjects like birthdays or holidays (more on these next month).  The rest is a little weird.  Different software will display the remaining information differently, so put the same information in the “Comments” and “Title” fields (you can copy and paste); click on ”Apply” and then “OK.”  This will allow Windows users to view the information in the easier to read “Comments” field and PhotoShop users to read the data in the “Description” field.  Conversely, if you are scanning the photos yourself, use the “Description” field in PhotoShop and the information will display in the “Title” field in Windows. To edit multiple files in Windows, select the desired files and right click; follow the above steps.

If you’re thinking that this is going to take forever – well, it is time consuming.  Just remember that you’ve spent much more time on the earlier aspects of creating a family archive; now you’re in the home stretch. Next month we’ll discuss organization methods of photo files.

Toys, SD Cards and iPads

Eye Fi Card

I am a geek.  I’m not sure when it happened; maybe I always was.  Maybe I was waiting (unbeknownst) for the digital revolution.  No, that isn’t it.  I have analog roots.  In the 80s, friends and family would ask me to “fix” their VCR that kept flashing 12:00. The more adventurous would have me set it up to record something that they wouldn’t be home to watch (probably an episode of Cheers). Among geeks, I rank fairly low.  I don’t own a soldering set, never built my own Tesla coil and can’t fix my son’s RC car.  I can, however, crimp a network cable, work with most computer hardware and software with confidence, create a passable website, program my DVR and set-up my mother-in-law’s photo frame.  What I really like are toys; the kind of toys that are displayed at the International Consumer Electronics Show each winter in Vegas.

Imagine my thrill when I discovered that I could get two of my newest toys to work together!  Last November, I got an iPad. I love my iPad, but its main problem is getting stuff on it.  It’s easy enough to download a book or an app, but your own pictures are added by synching it from a computer; a small, but extra, step in displaying your photos.  For Christmas, I got an Eye-Fi camera card.  Using your home wifi, it can be set to upload your pictures to Facebook or some other social networking site without a computer.  Fast forward to April – iPad 2 is released with a camera. But it’s only a cell phone quality camera and that’s not nearly good enough for me.  However, Eye-Fi releases a firmware update that turns all of its cards into mini-wifi networks.  In other words, my iPad and my Eye-Fi card can talk to each other anywhere, not just at home.  The setup is a little tricky (detailed instructions are on their website), but once it’s setup, it works well. You take a photo and then it appears on your iPad.  It is by far the coolest thing that I have seen in awhile.

Camera Math

It’s back to school and time for math class.  Don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to solve quadratic equations (remember FOIL?); we’ll be doing camera math. So pay attention, this WILL be on the test!

F stop: Officially, it’s the focal length divided by the diameter of the aperture; in practice, this is your aperture setting.  In low light situations, your pupils dilate to allow in extra light.  In bright light, they close (think of walking out of a movie in the daytime).  The aperture on a camera lens can be set to allow in a lot of light (wide aperture) or a little light (narrow aperture).  Here’s the tricky part: because of the way they are calculated, the f stop settings are the opposite of what we might think.  A low number – f/2.8 – is a very wide aperture that lets in a lot of light.  A high number – f/22 – is a very narrow setting that allows in much less light.

Shutter Speed: Shutter speeds are expressed in fractions of a second.  A setting of 1/400 means the shutter will be open for 1/400th of a second.  A shutter that is open for a short time is said to be “fast” and one that is open for a long time is said to be “slow”.  So the smaller the fraction, the larger the denominator and the faster the shutter speed (or the larger the fraction, the smaller the denominator and the slower the shutter speed).  Remember, 1/400 is smaller than 1/60 even though 400 is larger than 60.

ISO:  ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization and why it isn’t IOS is way too boring of a story.  It’s a logarithmic scale used to represent how sensitive a film (or sensor) is to light. This one is straightforward:  the higher the number, the faster the film and the more sensitive to light.  So, a high speed film, say 800, is better in lower light or with shorter shutter speeds.

It’s almost time for the bell to ring.  Next class we will discuss the relationship between f stop, shutter speed and ISO and which settings to use in different situations.

Part II

Welcome back!  In our last class we defined F stop, shutter speed and ISO.  These three elements combine to form the exposure triangle. Understanding their relationship is the key to taking quality photos.

Think of exposure as a number line with perfect exposure at zero.  The further away from zero, the worse your pictures are.  If your photos come out dark, they’re underexposed (negative side).  To fix this you can open the aperture by using a smaller f stop, decrease the shutter speed or increase the ISO setting.  If your photos come out too bright and lack detail, they’re overexposed (positive side).  To fix this you can close the aperture by using a higher f stop, increase the shutter speed or decrease the ISO setting.  Often, changing one side of the triangle is enough to fix exposure problems; unfortunately, “which side” and “how much” to change depend on the situation.

ISO:  A higher ISO setting will let the camera make the best use of the available light, but set it too high and that image will be very grainy.   The lower the speed, the better the photo and most consumer cameras don’t do well beyond 400 ISO.  Change this side of the triangle when you need just a little more or less light.  Use it as a first step; it might be all you need.  Settings between 100 and 400 are low enough not to be grainy.

F Stop:  A full open aperture will take in a lot of light, but produces a very shallow depth of field.  This means that the camera will only focus on the items close to you and blur the background.  If you want the entire photo to be clear you must use a small aperture that takes in less light (higher number).   Adjust this side of the triangle when depth of field doesn’t matter and a fast shutter speed is more important, as in action shots.

Shutter Speed:  A slower shutter speed will take in more light, but too slow and the photo will be blurry.  In general, you can’t hold a camera and shoot below 1/60 without camera shake.  Change this side when you need to have the background in focus, such as landscapes or group photos (the mountains won’t move, but tell the people to stay still).

We’ll finish our discussion next class and review for the test!

Part III

OK class, settle down.  We have one new topic to cover before our exam – megapixels.  A pixel is short for picture element and refers to the number of tiny squares of storage, arranged in a grid, on your camera’s sensor; it’s also called the resolution. One megapixel equals one million pixels.  Total number of megapixels (MP) is calculated by multiplying width by height (like area); so 3,000 pixels X 2,000 pixels equal 6MP. Because this is a specific number and a simple calculation, the advertising world has latched on to the concept of MP. They have bombarded us with the idea that a higher MP is always better and the only indicator of picture quality; this is what we call “the megapixel trap.”

I have two main cameras: Canon’s Digital Rebel XTI and Canon’s 5D.  The 5D is a 12.8MP camera and the Rebel is a 10.1MP. Under identical conditions, the 5D will capture a superior image.  Why? Not because of the extra 2.7 million pixels, because it is a better camera.  One of the most important differences is the sensor size.  My 5D has a full-frame image sensor (about 36mm X 24mm) and my Rebel has a cropped image sensor (around 24mm X 16mm); the larger the sensor, the more light it “sees” and the better the picture.  Phones and compact cameras have even smaller sensors. When the manufacturers increase the MP count, they are not increasing the sensor size, just dividing it up into smaller pieces.  The other important factor in image quality is the lens used; the better the lens, the better the image (with everything else equal).  Phones and compact cameras have simple lenses, often with limited focusing abilities.  Their photos will always be inferior because they are from inferior equipment, not because of the pixel count.  That’s not to say you can’t get a good photo from them; they are fine for standard print or web photos and nothing beats the convenience.  So does pixel count matter at all?  Yes, but pixel count has to be quadrupled for any obvious improvement in quality.  This explains why the early increases in MP were significant (say 1MP to 4MP), but the more recent ones are not.

In summary, don’t brag to me about the 8MPcamera in your smartphone; I will not be impressed (at least, not in the way you intended).

In addition to megapixels, students should review the definitions of ISO, f stop and shutter speed and understand the relationship between the three. The quiz can be found at: www.YoureOnIt.com/quiz.html  (and you probably thought I was joking!).

Calling All Vietnam Veterans!

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I used to be a librarian.  For 15 years I assisted college and high school students and faculty with research and technology.  I was in libraries when the WWW came to be.  I don’t think much about my former career, but every once in a while the librarian in me resurfaces.  When she does, I am always pleased at the reminder that there is no such thing as wasted time.

A relative of mine wanted me to scan and restore photos that he had taken during his time in Vietnam.   These photos were not in good condition.  Apparently, a Marine footlocker in a tropical climate does not provide the optimal storage environment for photos.  Go figure.  The ones that he had sent home were in better shape, but they were still over 40 years old.  At first glance, the pictures themselves weren’t worth keeping.  Many of them were blurry or dark.  None of them were “great.”  Then the librarian in me woke up. She promptly told the photographer in me to quiet down.  These photos were of great historical significance.  History that isn’t published in textbooks – individual, personal history.   I gladly cleaned, scanned and restored them and they did indeed look better.

When I returned the photos, he told me about a Vietnam archive project that he had heard of.  After a little bit of research, I discovered the information.  The Vietnam Center and Archive is housed at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.  In addition to its collection covering well-known aspects of the Vietnam War, the Archive collects materials from all Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.  They accept most original items including: photos, maps, slides, films, tapes and realia (sorry, it’s a library term that means any other artifact).  Once they receive the donation, they preserve and catalog the items and then scan them for their online Virtual Vietnam Archive.  The Virtual Archive is quite impressive.  It’s fully searchable and includes a variety of information on the everyday activities of “regular” people, both servicemen and civilians.  A picture is worth a thousand words should be their motto.  Donors are encouraged to provide as much information as possible which adds to its value as a research tool.  Only original documents are accepted (for a variety of library and archive reasons) and you receive a CD with the digital version of your items.  For more information, contact them at www.vietnam.ttu.edu .