My Approach to Copying Documents
I describe my strategy for copying documents as "realistic perfectionism." If I can make a copy look great, I'll do it. If I can't make it look great, I'll work hard to make sure it's the best copy I can get for you.
I'm happy to follow your guidelines for copying--just tell me how you'd like me to approach it--but here are some of the approaches I use:
I print birth, marriage, and death records from microfilm (black and white copies) and then scan them to create digital images. I've printed thousands of copies and so I have a pretty good feel for how to adjust the copier settings but if the writing is light or if the background is dark, there are tradeoffs. In less than optimal cases, I always go for "readable" over "pretty." I rotate and crop the images and I'm always happy to adjust brightness/contrast to meet your needs after you've seen the records. Just ask.
I use a flatbed scanner and a digital camera to make copies of probate and divorce files. This results in color images (jpgs) that I also merge into easy-to-read pdfs.
*If I can remove staples and scan a document flat, that's my first choice. Often the images make it look as though you're viewing the actual documents.
*If I can't remove staples, then I scan with them in which means there will likely be a shadow at the top of the page.
*If the information on a page goes beyond platen size then I have to scan in two passes and stitch the images together. If I do that using the scanning software, there is a shadow where the images overlap; if I do it in Photoshop, it's usually seamless.
*If a probate file includes a thick stack of bills, it's more practical and efficient to use the digital camera to capture the information. The images are readable, but they don't look like scans.
*If a file is particularly large and you're more interested in "readable" than "pretty," I can save you money if I use a digital camera instead of the scanner.