General Recommendations: It is useful to have both color slides or digital files and black-and-white prints of your historic sites. Black and white print film is the most archival. Color prints are not recommended.
Digital Photos: Digital photographs should be printed on photographic paper at 300 ppi (pixels per inch) in 4”x 6” prints or larger. These should be printed out on glossy, high-quality photo paper in black and white. A CD/DVD-ROM with all the images (in color) should be submitted along with the photo sheets. For the purposes of the State Historic Preservation Office, the size of each image must be 3000x2000 pixels or larger. It is recommended that digital images be saved in 8-bit (or larger) color format, which provides maximum detail even when printed in black-and-white. TIF images are preferable, but JPEG images are acceptable. For more information on digital photo standards, contact us.
Slides: Digital images on a CD are preferred; however, slides are still acceptable. Kodachrome (or equivalent) has the truest colors. 64 ASA is a good all-purpose film; films with a lower ASA number produce a better image. One disadvantage of Kodachrome is that the processing usually takes about a week because it must be sent out of state. Ektachrome is another type of slide film. Its main advantage is that it can be processed locally, usually within a day. It also comes in higher speeds (200 and 400 ASA), which are useful in low-lighting situations. The main disadvantage of Ektachrome is that the colors are often somewhat tinted, though this problem has been alleviated to a great extent in recent years by improved film quality.
Black-and-White Prints: A good all-purpose film is Kodak TMAX 100 ASA. There are higher-speed versions of this film, 400 ASA for example, which can be used in reduced lighting situations or when a larger lens is being used. The higher-speed films will not produce as sharp a print, however.
Lighting: As a general rule, shoot with the sun at your back so the sunlight is on the face of the subject building. Avoid shooting toward the sun. Buildings that face north should be photographed earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid shooting directly into the sun.
One problem with sunlight is that it can cause shadows that obscure some of the architectural details; dappled shadows from nearby trees are especially distracting. Shadows can be avoided by photographing on a lightly overcast day. However, if the sky is heavily overcast the photograph will be too gray and murky.
Interior lighting: A flash unit is necessary for many interior photographs. Natural and room lighting can be used successfully if you are using a high-speed film and a tripod.
Composition: The subject should dominate the photograph, but its surroundings should also be included to some extent. If the setting is particularly important or unique, a more panoramic photograph may be in order. In general, however, avoid extensive foreground and sky in your photographs.
Artistic techniques can be employed to create more interesting and dramatic photographs. These include the use of unusual angles, stark lighting, depth-of-field adjustments, and creative framing (a tree bough across the top of the image, for example).
Remember, however, that the primary purpose of the photograph is to document the building, so don't get carried away with artistic embellishments.
Cory Jensen at 801-245-7242
State Historic Preservation Office
Utah Division of State History
300 S. Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101