We've all heard the expression "I'll take just another for insurance." It usually means taking another shot to make sure you've got the picture.
Well, there's another kind of insurance shot -- photographs of your valuables which you can use for insurance records.
Insurance companies use photography for their records. They take photos of accidents, injuries, scenes of fires and other calamities and use these photos later for verifying claims. The police also take photographs at scenes of accidents and crimes.
You, too, can use your camera to establish records. A picture can verify the location of your car at the scene of an accident or provide proof of ownership of your valuables.
Large objects such as paintings, art objects or antique furniture can be photographed with flash. To avoid reflections from the glass fronting your paintings, either remove the flash from the camera with an extension cord and flash from the side, or bounce the flash off the ceiling. These methods give a soft, even, none-glare light.
(For bounce-flash, open up two stops from normal exposure: that is, from f/8 to f/4, and be sure the shutter speed is set for sync, usually 1/60th of a second.)
Small objects are best photographed on a piece of graph paper to show relative size. You can use paper with 1/4-inch squares. Include part of a ruler in the photo for verification of size. A number of small objects can be shown on a single sheet. Flat objects can simply be placed on the sheet, while round objects like rings can be stuck on with a piece of transparent tape.
To avoid confusing shadows, use an indirect light, as on the north side of the house or under a porch overhang, or in open shade. Inside, use a window with a light curtain to diffuse the light.
Shoot straight down to avoid distortion. You can check if you're square with the paper by lining up the edge of the grid lines with the inside frame of the viewfinder. Use a tripod if you have one, or brace yourself against a wall, a doorframe or the top of a chair.
It's best to use color film when photographing metal or stones where color is important in determining value. Any color-transparency film will do. Slides enable you to project the image to a larger size so you can see finer detail. If you use negative color film, you'll have to pay extra for any enlargements.
If your collect stamps, coins or artifacts, photography can be a way to exchange information on your valuable pieces when making sales or exchanges, without the risk involved in handling them during the transaction.
Photographing your valuables is good insurance, and in case of loss a picture can save you a thousand words of description on the insurance forms. Q. My strobe unit has two settings: automatic and manual. What is the practical use of these two settings? A. The automatic setting should be used when you are shooting within the recommended distance for the unit. Simply set the f/stop as recommended for the film you're using and the light will automatically adjust to the distance. This is very handy for candid pictures of people at parties or family gatherings.
The manual setting means that the light remains constant at full power and will not adjust for the distance. When using this setting you have to know the guide number of your flash unit and the ASA speed of your film. To determine the proper exposure, divide the distance in feet into the guide number. The result wil be the f/stop you should use. So, if you are 20 feet from your subject and the guide number is 40, your proper exposure will be f/2.
Remember, whether you use the automatic or manual settings, you have to set your shutter speed for the proper sync (usually 1/60th of a second). If shutter speed is faster than sync setting, you'll only get a partial picture. If it's slower, there may be subject movement due to existing light.