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An article in the Dec. 19 Business section incorrectly stated that digital photos of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison were taken by National Guardsmen. They were taken by Army Reservists.

Digitized and Brought to Life

New Imaging Allows Miracles Detailed and Deeply Personal

By Leslie Walker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 19, 2004; Page F01

The true power of digital photography never really hit me until I came face to face with the dashing young Australian grandfather I had never met -- on my 21-inch computer screen.

A home scanner, coupled with a cheap photo-editing program, allowed me to blow up the few tiny images of him my family had saved so I could get my first close look at his melancholy face.


For her photo book, the author was able to clean up pictures using entry-level software, making family history immediate and memorable. (Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

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The encounter highlighted for me the magnitude of change digital technology is ushering into the 165-year-old photography industry, creating turmoil and excitement as people buy digital cameras at rates far exceeding industry projections.

This past year, people in the United States bought twice as many digital cameras as film models, according to the Photo Marketing Association. Next year a bigger change may loom: Cell phone cameras are projected to sell even more than regular digital cameras.

The larger story, though, is how people are using their digital cameras differently from the film models. Consider the photos snapped by National Guardsmen showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, which were e-mailed widely and shown on national TV. Or the Nashville man who helped police nab the mugger who jumped him at a carwash, by using his cell phone camera to photograph the mugger as he fled.

At home, consumers are embracing all kinds of new camera accessories, and older tools once reserved for professionals -- flatbed scanners, photo-editing software, desktop publishing programs -- to do things that were impractical or impossible in the era of film.

Many of these changes hit home when I decided to digitize every document I could find about my mother's father.

Never-Seen Details

His story had been tucked away for decades in a red velvet portfolio my grandmother kept in the attic. Tattered yellow clippings from British tabloids told the tale:

John Holmes, a celebrated Australian rugby player, met and married my British grandmother, Mary Shore, in 1929 when the Australian team played Britain in the Yorkshire town of Ilkley.

The London press had a field day. "Ilkley Girl's Romance," shrieked one headline. " 'Ah, you thief,' was how the Prime Minister greeted Holmes when he received the [team] at 10 Downing Street yesterday . . ." the article said. "You boys really mustn't take all our nice girls."


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