Archive Parish Council Minutes.

The aim of the project was to photograph all PC minute books and then to place them in the Hertfordshire Archives so they would be available to everyone and safe.

Originally I had experimented with taking photographs with an DSLR camera and with using a scanner. But both of these methods are extremely laborious. So I decided to just use my iPhone. Another problem when copying a book is that it does not lie flat. This can be partially fixed by placing something under book. I largely ignored this as most pages were nearly flat and the result was readable. The results, though not up to the standards of the National Archive, are satisfactory. Thus, some quality was sacrificed in the interests of completing all minute books in a reasonable time and being able to read the result.

Having photographed the pages, by laying the book on the floor, I have a large number of jpeg images. JPEG is an image format and stands for Joint Photographers’ Expert Group. I downloaded these images from my iCloud to my PC.

The next problem, because I was holding the iPhone approximately level, the images were sometimes rotated (landscape) and sometimes upside down. I found the easiest way to fix this was to view the images in Windows Explorer. Select the menu options View, Large Icon then highlight one or more sideways images and then click 'Rotate Right'.

I decided to collect a number of images into a single PDF file. This makes reading the minutes easier. I didn't break the images into meetings or dates, I just took 10 images per pdf. However, these PDF files were very large and took several seconds to appear having clicked on the link. So the next job was to reduce the file size of the jpeg images. After a bit of Googling, I found an article which described the use of a package called ‘ImageMagick’ to reduce the number of pixels. ImageMagick has hundreds of options and is a commandline program. If the number of pixels is reduced too much, the image will become pixelated, so some care is required. Images contain a large amount of information in addition to the actual pixels. This is called ‘exif metdata’. These record the camera model used and the camera settings and dozens of other data, and for mobile phones, the location where the photo was taken, as GPS coordinates (Latitude and Longitude). Care must be taken when publishing photos online not the include any sensitive information. Thus, the GPS coordinates were also removed from the image files using a package called ‘exiftool’.