Paper No. 19-7
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM
MAXING OUT THE POTENTIAL OF PRIVATE FOSSIL COLLECTIONS THROUGH DIGITIZATION: BEST PRACTICES IN PHOTOGRAPHING SPECIMENS
Every private fossil collector is familiar with these questions: (1) How do I organize my findings? (2) How can I find specific fossils in my collection without turning my house upside down? (3) How can I exchange information about my fossil treasures with like-minded collectors in the easiest and most straightforward way? (4) How can I give my collection that unique touch? One solution to these problems might be creating a database with a digital image of every fossil as the central feature – including all of the important additional data such as location and stratigraphic context. But one might ask: to get high-quality “database ready” pictures, must a photo studio be rigged up in my house? To address this, the FOSSIL Project presents advice on best practices in photographing fossil specimens, from creating the ideal camera setup, to arranging specimens in the best manner, to use of proper lighting techniques. One goal of the FOSSIL Project is to increase the digitization skills of our paleontological community, and to provide this information in an impartial way. Depending upon the technology utilized, smart-phones can sometimes be entirely sufficient for photographing fossils; other times, more preparation and equipment is needed to reach the recommended photo quality. However, by employing a few tricks, photographing specimens can become much easier, which in turn will make personal fossil collections even more useful. The end game is to reach and fulfill the minimum quality requirements for a professionalized database, and the tips provided here will enable any collector to do so.