Episode 207 - DNA Higher Education: CentiMorgans and Segments/ Houses In Photographs

podcast episode Sep 24, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  Fisher starts out with info on the shiny new Extreme Genes Patrons Club.  David then shares the remarkable tale of a woman who lost her mother’s wedding dress and pix years ago, only to find them again. Wait til you hear this story! Then, just in time for back to school, hear what name young Prince George is going to go by since the Royal Family doesn’t have an official surname. Then, it’s a pair of Viking related discoveries, both remarkable in their own right. David then focuses the blogger spotlight on currach.johnjtierney.com.  John has some terrific tools to help you with your Irish genealogy!

Next up, Fisher chats with DNA pro Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com.  Fisher has been helping a friend try to identify his birth father. When a female match showed, according to shared centiMorgans, she was a first cousin, but was twenty years older Fisher’s friend, he called Paul. And Paul had a very different read on the match. Hear why and what you can learn about centiMorgans and segments when analyzing your DNA matches.

Then, it’s Photo Detective Maureen Taylor. Maureen and Fisher talk about the significance of houses in photographs. There are many facets to it, including identifying where and when a picture was taken, and, of course, something about the family itself. Hear Maureen’s usual great insight on early, and even contemporary, photos that contain houses.

Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, answers two more listener questions involving material digitized in the 1990s, that is now virtually unreadable, and some old film containers.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 207

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 207

Fisher: Hey, you have found us! It is Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Nice to have you along! It’s Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Couple of great guests today. First of all, I’ve been working on helping a friend of mine identify his birth father and in the process we came across some “weird” results on his DNA. So, I called Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com, the DNA specialist there and talked about some of these results. He came up with a completely different conclusion than I did looking at it. And we’re going to be talking about that a little bit. The links, the Centimorgans, what do they mean? It’s going to be a little science episode for you today. [Laughs] So we hope you’re going to pay close attention to that coming up in about 9 minutes. Maureen Taylor is going to be here today. She’s the Photo Detective of course. We’re going to talk about houses in pictures. And I’m excited by the way that Maureen is my very first guest for our Extreme Genes Patrons Club Members-Only Podcast. And you can sign up for this thing, it’s so easy. Just go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes or just click on the Patrons Club button on the Extreme Genes website. You can sign up right there. You know, it’s a simple thing. It’s like for a buck, you get mentioned on the site. For $3 you get early access to the podcast. For $5 a month you get a couple of bonus podcasts that are commercial free and long form. It’s a lot of fun. And for $8 you’re going to be part of live, online “Ask Me Anything” type sessions. So we’d love to have you be part of that. Sign up right now Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. I mean, it’s like less than the cost of a hamburger and fries every month. Okay, a really juicy one... but still very cheap! And speaking of fun stuff, David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Genealogical Historic Society and AmericanAncestors.org, we had a winner working with you, somebody who had signed up for our “Weekly Genie” Newsletter. She became a subscriber and we picked her name. And Mary Lohr, how did she do with your live session?

David: Oh, she did really well. In fact, we talked for a half hour. She still had half hour left and we talked about her War of 1812 ancestor out in Indiana in the Iowa territories.

Fisher: And you know, we’re offering another hour with David, a free hour consultation. For subscribers to the “Weekly Genie” newsletter you can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com. We’ll have another winner drawn at the end of the month so we’re closing in on that so make sure you take care of it. David good to have you along, let’s get into our Family Histoire News. We’ve got a lot of stories this week.

David: We really do. In fact, another surprising find this time not on eBay like you had last week.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Jane Fine Foster had spent over 14 years searching for her mom’s vintage wedding photos. This wedding occurred in 1948. They were lost due to a missing payment from a storage unit.

Fisher: Uh oh.

David: But, guess what? They turned up. One day the Colorado woman was shopping in Grand Junction when she stopped and spotted her mother’s wedding picture in the window of an antique shop.


David: She couldn’t believe her eyes.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Needless to say she went in and got them.

Fisher: Yeah, no kidding. And not just the pictures, the wedding dress itself was in there.

David: Isn’t that amazing?

Fisher: It is! I mean, you talk about serendipity in family history. Great stuff! All right, what else do you have?

David: Well okay, our next story is kind of a back to school story. All the kids are back in school and of course that includes the Royal family. So here’s a bit of a genealogical name conundrum for you. So, when Prince Harry and Prince William were using their names, they were Harry Wales and William Wales since their father is the Prince of Wales.

Fisher: Right, because they don’t have a family name, right?

David: Correct. The Royal family has a different official surname which is Mountbatten-Windsor which is a combination of the Queen and Prince Philip’s last name Mountbatten before becoming Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

Fisher: Sure.

David: But the little 4-year old Prince now will be known as George Cambridge at school because his parents are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And of course it will eventually change to George Wales when his father becomes the Prince of Wales, when his father becomes King or it might even supersede if his father becomes King and his grandfather doesn’t.

Fisher: That’s very complicated. [Laughs]

David: It really is. Well, our next story goes a little further north all the way up a mountain in Norway where a person who is a reindeer hunter found an eleven hundred year old weapon, a Viking sword.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs] How cool is that?

David: Not perfectly preserved but not bad for something that’s been sitting on the ground for that many years.

Fisher: It’s amazing because it was like sitting on piles of rocks out in the open this whole time, but it’s in pretty good shape.

David: Now, I think it’s amazing you know, just like our little friend that we found up on the Alps.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Who knows what else might be found as the ice recedes a little bit more? Our next story goes back away and it also has a Viking spin on it. Back in the 1880s there was a grand burial that was found and researchers figured it was a grave of a Viking warrior that it was a man. Well, not the right sex because DNA has proven now that the warrior was in fact a lady!

Fisher: Yeah, and an officer too! I mean there’s all kinds of trinkets buried with her that indicate she was in charge. So it looks like the Viking squads were open to women leading their ranks.

David: So you just never know where DNA is rewriting the history, and even those who have been dead for many, many years. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This week’s blogger spotlight is currach.johnjtierney.com. John Tierney has a wonderful blog but what is different about his is he has Tools and Downloads available, including Genealogy Maps, a Simple Census Age Table, a 10 Generation Excel Chart, Ireland Cemeteries he’s kind of broken down from FindAGrave to how to get a grave right into the counties and an Ancestry Pie Chart which is kind of fun. Download these tools for free on his website.

Fisher: And of course we’re going to have the link to that on our website at Extreme Genes so you don’t have to remember all that. Just click on it.

David: Exactly. Remember, if you’re not a member of NEGHS, you can become a free guest member by going to AmericanAncestors.org. And if you want to become a member use the checkout code “Extreme” and save an extreme $20 off our regular membership which is $89.95 or any other membership level that you choose.

Fisher: All right, very nice, David. Thanks so much. We’ll talk to you again next week. Have a good one.

David: Thank you, you too my friend.

Fisher: All right and coming up next we’re going to talk to Paul Woodbury. We’re going to get a little “scientific” talking about DNA. What are these centimorgans and shared segments? What’s that all about? He’ll make an attempt to explain it to me coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 207

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Hey, it is time to talk DNA on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. I’ve got my friend Paul Woodbury on the line from LegacyTree.com. He is their DNA Specialist. Paul, good to have you back on the show. 

Paul: Thanks for having me, always a pleasure.

Fisher: Paul and I have been talking this past week because I’ve been helping a friend of mine trying to identify his birth father and it’s been kind of complicated. We found through a DNA match that he had a first cousin, and there was a child of that first cousin who was coming in as a second to third or something like that. There were some differences there. The oddity of this was, the first cousin was twenty years older than my friend. And so that would suggest that it was one of her uncles who would have been the father and born way back there, and it just didn’t make a lot of sense. So I picked up the phone and called Paul and I said, “Is there something I’m missing here? This is coming in as a solid first cousin.” And we started talking about the levels of centimorgans there, in this case my friend uses an Ancestry test and there’s a little “I” next to the level of confidence when you look at a match and when you click on that you can see how many centimorgans are shared. Paul, talk about centimorgans. What is the significance of this?

Paul: All right. Well, centimorgans are a measurement of genetic recombination. With autosomal DNA you get half from your mom, half from your dad. And that half that you get from your dad is a mix of his paternal and his maternal DNA and it undergoes a process of recombination.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: Well, when DNA recombines, what happens is, the maternal copy and the paternal copy went up together and they exchanged genetic material. And those different points on any given chromosome, there’s increased or decreased likelihood of recombination. And so, because of that centimorgans are an excellent measure of how closely related you might be to someone because it expresses the likelihood that two points on any given segment of DNA are inherited together.

Fisher: Okay.

Paul: So, when we talk about shared DNA, a lot of the times we’ll talk about, you know, the percentage of DNA that we share in common, or the number of segments that we share in common, or the total number of base pairs that we share in common. But that can be a little bit misleading because you may share a large amount of DNA but those segments of DNA could be in portions of the chromosomes that are hard to access or hard to recombine with. Because of that, it may misrepresent exactly how much DNA you share in common with someone.

Fisher: So the problem is we have here then is, we can have the same amount of DNA that you might see, for instance grandparents and grandchildren have 25%.

Paul: Yeah.

Fisher: But so do aunts and uncles with nieces and nephews have 25%. So when you just read centimorgans, how would you tell them apart if you didn’t already know the relationship?

Paul: We’ll get there.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Paul: There are a few clues that you can use for exploring those relationships. Blaine Bettinger has done an excellent job with the shared centimorgan projects you can find at the GeneticGenealogist.com.

Fisher: And we’re linking to that by the way at ExtremeGenes.com so you can see this.

Paul: And he’s done some research on how many centimorgans do you expect to share with individuals of different levels of relationships.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: That can be really helpful. And some other great resources for evaluating the number of shared centimorgans and determining what level of relationship is most likely is a wiki page at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy and titled “Autosomal DNA Statistics,” and that can give you a quick reference. And another resource that I use regularly is the “Ancestry DNA Matching White Paper” which, on page 32 of that report, gives an excellent chart of how much DNA you would expect given different levels of relationships in terms of centimorgans.

Fisher: Now in this case you know, you and I were talking the other day, there was this first cousin relationship it just was kind of odd because of the timing, and you looked at segments and said, “You know what? I think this is probably a half aunt.” Now you weren’t absolutely certain, but you had a different take on it because of the number of segments shared. How does that come in to play?

Paul: Excellent point. So, there is another blog by Graham Coop titled GCBias and he has an article entitled “How Many Genomic Blocks Do You Share with a Cousin?” And what he does is, he goes through a statistical analysis of, if you share four blocks of DNA with somebody, at what level might you be related to that individual versus if you share fifteen blocks of DNA? And with blocks, I like to look at the number of segments as well as the centimorgans because I think that it can sometimes point you to the most likely level of relationship. In this case, with centimorgans you have many, many more data points to look at so you have a much wider range to be able to look at.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: So, the categories of relationship are more discreet. A first cousin most of the time will share a very different amount of DNA than a first cousin once removed or even a second cousin. Once you get beyond the level of second cousins, within centimorgans the ranges begin to get a little bit fuzzy. The amount of DNA that you share with a third cousin might be the same amount of DNA that you share with a fourth cousin or a fourth cousin once removed. And the amount of DNA that you share with a fourth cousin might be the same amount of DNA that you share with an eighth cousin.

Fisher: Wow!

Paul: So as you move further out in these relationships, the categories of what you would expect for that shared DNA become more fuzzy.

Fisher: Right. And that’s why we see these ranges on all the sites right? Fifth to eighth, they don’t know. It’s not because of the companies; it’s just because that’s how we inherit differently as we go further down the line from these people, right?

Paul: Exactly. And you’ll also notice at the different companies they will give smaller ranges for the closer levels of relationship. They have first to second cousin, and then they have second to fourth cousin, then they have fourth to eighth cousin, and so it grows as you get less shared DNA. With segments you also get those ranges but, it gets fuzzy a lot faster.

Fisher: Now wait a minute, when you talk about segments, are we also talking about blocks? You were talking about sharing certain blocks, is that the same term?

Paul: Yeah, blocks and segments are the same idea.

Fisher: Okay, all right.

Paul: And so, when you’re dealing with blocks you know, if you share, say forty segments of DNA with someone that’s indicative of a very close relationship, if you share thirty centimorgans that’s also indicative of a very close relationship. But, if you get out to ten, or down to eight, seven, six, then the relationship gets really fuzzy really fast.

Fisher: So in this case, my friend had a very high shared centimorgans but a lower number of segments?

Paul: Yes. And so what I will often do, I will consider the centimorgans and the segments in tandem. Now technically they are not independent variables so we can’t do joint probabilities on these variables.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: Because the number of centimorgans you have is going to depend in part on the number of segments you have obviously. But, as you look at these you can begin to pinpoint which ones are the most likely levels of relationship. In this case we looked at your friend’s results and he had a really strong match that was typical of, in terms of centimorgans, it’s typical of a first cousin relationship.

Fisher: In fact, right on the exact number that Blaine Bettinger has on his chart, 880.

Paul: Yes. So we were looking at that and so it would suggest the first cousin relationship but, if you look at relationships, there are equivalent relationships. So a first cousin will share the same amount of DNA that you would expect to share with a great aunt, with a great grandparent .

Fisher: Right.

Paul: With a half aunt or with a double first cousin once removed.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Paul: And when you look at these relationships you have to remember that there are relationships that are genetically equivalent to each other. In this case we were looking at the number of segments and it just didn’t quite match up with what we would expect for a first cousin relationship. My theory is that this person was a half aunt because what happens with segments is you’ll often get, for example, you inherit twenty three segments of DNA from your parents, right?

Fisher: Right.

Paul: You get twenty three segments of DNA from your father, those segments happens to be the entire chromosome. And from each of your grandparents you will often inherit between twenty three and forty segments. What happens is, as those segments come down through the success of generations of ancestry, first you’ll increase in the number of segments that you share and then you’ll rapidly decrease as the relationships become more distant. So what I was thinking, in this case is that it’s likely half aunt because they were sharing only twenty three segments of DNA which is anomalous for a first cousin relationship, but in this case there’s only been three generational steps. There’s been only three opportunities to break up that DNA into a larger number of segments.

Fisher: And so that’s why it’s a smaller number and that’s why you could look at the two together and go, “This isn’t quite a first cousin, this has got to be a half aunt.” Amazing!

Paul: Yeah, and that plus the context which we were looking at within these relationships.

Fisher: Sure. There’s an age difference, that’s right.

Paul: Because as you look at genealogical relationships there’s this age difference, there’s who are the candidates, whose matching from among her parents, and so we will only able to see connections to one side of her family.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: It was really pointing to a half relationship, and a half aunt relationship is equivalent genetically to a first cousin relationship.

Fisher: I think we have been schooled, Paul, as always. [Laughs] Thanks so much. This is one of those segments I’m going to have to go back and listen to a couple of times because it’s kind of a 303 level DNA course, but nonetheless, it’s fantastic and obviously very helpful for certain people who run into some of these strange relationships as they try to figure out their DNA matches. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, and great to have you on again.

Paul: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: Wow! Good stuff. All right, coming up next in five minutes, we talk to Maureen Taylor. She’s the Photo Detective talking about houses in photographs, coming up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode207

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maureen Taylor

Fisher: Hey, it’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And, this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com, so excited to have my good friend Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective back on the show. Maureen, how are you?

Maureen: I’m great, Scott. How are you?

Fisher: You know, always excited to talk to you. Always excited to talk genealogy and all of its magnificent phases, and one of them is photographs. And, one of the things that got us to talking in one time was a picture I found of my dad, from back in the 1920s, and it had a house behind it. And, it was very interesting to try and figure out where was this picture taken because the house was kind of unique. It had a very flat top to it, and you gave me some good advice on that. And, let’s get into houses and photographs, and how we can use those for identity, for the times that these pictures were taken, and what they can tell about a story.

Maureen: I love houses and pictures [Laughs] maybe because I live in a historic house.

Fisher: Okay.

Maureen: There were itinerant photographers who travelled around and actually sort of knocked on doors, and asked people to come out and stand in their front yard and have their pictures taken, and my favorites of those are the ones out on the prairie, where you have people in front of the sod house, and you have the whole family all dressed up, and then they have the horse.

Fisher: [Laughs] Of course, got to have the horse. What eras are we talking about? What’s the earliest time these photographers were out there doing their thing?

Maureen: There were itinerant photographers very early on, 1860s for sure. There were actually, obviously the daguerreotypes from the 1840s, but you needed certain conditions to take those pictures.

Fisher: Sure.

Maureen: So mostly they were done in the studio. Some were done outside, so I’m not going to say there are no early, early photographs of people in front of houses, but they’re pretty popular by the 1860s. Here’s a little known fact: 1860s realtors, people selling houses.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: Or offering houses for rent, would use pictures of those very nice houses, and then use them to advertise the houses for sale.

Fisher: Isn’t that amazing? [Laughs]

Maureen: You’d hand out little carte de visites, those little cards that are 2 1/2 by 4. You’d hand them out to particular people, you know, that could afford a particular house.

Fisher: Have you ever been able to find a photo of your historic home?

Maureen: Not yet. But the other day I was doing some research on the neighborhood and I was quite fascinated with it all, and so, I have some research I’m going to try to do to trace some of those families and see if any of them have pictures of this house. When we moved in, a friend of mine actually worked in the city archives, and they came over to say congratulations on the house, and he handed me a copy of a document from when the house was built.

Fisher: Oh, that’s so fun. You can learn a lot about your house, then, by finding records like this and hopefully leading to photographs. In my case, with this picture I was describing at the beginning of the segment here, it was a picture of my Dad, and there was a second one of him with his grandmother, who was born in 1846, standing side-by-side. Dad’s about 10 years old, so it’s about 1925.

Maureen: Right.

Fisher: He’s got a baseball mit on, and behind him is this very odd looking house with this flat top on it, and of course, I have no idea where exactly it was taken, because I know my Dad was raised in northern New Jersey, a place I have visited very seldom. So the first thing I thought was, okay, let’s look up his neighbourhood, because I knew where he lived. I’d never been there, and I went and did a Google satellite search for the neighborhood, and I could see that same house with the same weird flat top, from up above, and I’m going, “Okay. That’s the house. Look, you can see some of the doors and windows,” that kind of thing. You know, then you do Google Street Level, and I was able to determine that this was the house that was directly across the street that my dad grew up in. So, in 2013, I visited that place for the first time and was able to determine the exact spot that photograph, the two photographs, were taken. And, it was pretty fun because the house looks very much the same, with a few changes on it. But I know that it’s been around for close to 100 years now.

Maureen: Right. We have this photograph of my husband’s great grandparents, in front of their house in Rochester, New York, and it’s a big family gathering, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly who every single person is.

Fisher: Right.

Maureen: But I have a lot of them, right. And they’re standing in front of this house, and I thought, what’s the chance I have the address from census records and other things, and I looked it up on Google Street View and there’s the house, it still stands.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: But the neighborhood all around it, several of the houses that you can see in this old photograph, this late 19th century photograph, early 20th century photograph, are no longer there.

Fisher: Right. And that’s the beauty of using Street Level for this kind of thing. You can identify buildings. I was just recently looking up a New York building from the 1800s that my ancestors used as an office. Of course, it’s not there anymore, but you know, you never know what the neighborhoods look like today. You still might find an ancestor’s place. I’ve got a second great grandfather’s home that is still in use in New York City that’s at least 160 years old.

Maureen: That’s pretty good.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: [Laughs] That’s pretty good. My grandmother, my father’s mother, was the only grandparent I knew, and every Sunday we would take her for a drive, because that’s what she’d like to do. And the drive always consisted of going to see all the places where she had spent her life, all the houses that she had ever lived in, and some of them of course were gone, even at that point. But now, when I look back and I use Google Street View to try to find the places where all of her relatives ever lived, they’re parking lots.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: Gas stations.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: You know?

Fisher: It’s painful.

Maureen: Never a house.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right. It’s painful, that’s right. Once in a while, hopefully, you’re going to get something there at least. I have a place over in England, a fifth great lived in and used as his butcher shop. But it became an historic landmark because this is where a bunch of industrialists created a petition to Parliament so that they could start the first public railway in the history of the world in the 1830s. So they made this building at that time, an historic landmark, and so it’s still preserved today. It’s a pub, so you know, I can go in there and celebrate my ghosts, which has been a very fun thing for me to do because this building actually dates back to the 1600s.

Maureen: That’s very cool.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s a lot of fun.

Maureen: I went to an antique shop in New Hampshire, and sitting in a bin was a little photograph of people standing in front of a business. And, it’s a cobbler’s shop, and it named the town. And I thought, “I can’t leave this.” It’s $5, and I’m like, I can’t leave it here. I can maybe figure this out. So I spent, I can’t tell you how much time, using street view and maps going up and streets going up and down, the name, street, looking for this cobbler’s shop, and in the end I was never able to really identify the location, and neither was the historical society. I donated the picture because it was a piece of their history. It was a sort of hunting expedition for me, but really valuable to them. And we were coming back from my sister-in-law’s house, and we drove down this road, and I remember saying, I recognize this street. I’d spent so much time on it in the virtual world, that in real time, I felt like I was, you know, there was still the cobbler’s shop.

Fisher: Isn’t that funny. You go around a place. I’m at the point right now where frankly, I can’t remember whether I’ve actually been down a certain road or whether I thought I have because I followed it along on Google Street View just to see what was around there.

Maureen: Exactly, exactly. You can get completely carried away by it. And so one of the things I use it for, is not just to identify the places in the pictures, be they family pictures of pictures I pick up that I’m interested in, but I’m active here in the city of Providence in which I live, and the preservation of the city. And so, sometimes I’ll go by a place and I’ll see like, they ripped that house down last week, and I go on Google Street View and it hasn’t caught up yet. And so, I have them take a snapshot of what’s over there.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.

Maureen: And that helps a lot. If anybody wants to read about the cobbler’s shop and my search for that cobbler’s shop, it’s on my blog at MaureenTaylor.com.

Fisher: All right. She’s Maureen Taylor, she’s the Photo Detective. Always a pleasure, Maureen, thanks so much for coming on.

Maureen: Thanks, Scott.

Fisher: And, coming up next, it’s Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority continuing his Preservation Tour. Where is he? We’ll find out, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 207

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Time to talk preservation at Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority continues his Preservation Tour. He is on the road. Where are you this week, Tom?

Tom: Yeah, we're finishing up a really busy weekend. We're kind of multitasking. And we've got the Utah State Fair which we're finishing up. We've met a lot of genies, which has been a lot of fun. And we've had a crew down at St George for the amazing exhibition they've had down there this weekend, too. So we're going to finish those up and take a little bit of a breath and look forward to our next trip.

Fisher: Of course. And Salt Lake City in Utah is kind of the mecca of the genealogical world, so I'm sure you're meeting a lot of genies there, that's great. Well, this is very interesting. You shared with me a question that one of our genie listeners actually sent to us, Natalie. And Natalie wrote about a problem she's got. And she said, basically, back twenty years ago, she had a whole bunch of old family photos scanned professionally and saved to a Kodak CD. Now that sounds like she's forward thinking, right?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah. And they put it in a PDC format. Now I have never heard of a format like that. And she said she's only now discovering that Photoshop cannot directly open these formats, so she went online, she found a converter for it and that allowed her to open the files and save them in a TIFF format. Well, the converted photos, she said, now almost look like negatives. And she put one on here, and it’s just absolutely amazing. It is a couple, looks like their wedding day. You can see the woman holding flowers in her lap and the man looming behind her.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: But all that you would think would be dark or some kind of shade of gray or whatever is a blue color, an ocean blue. And then the figures themselves are in some kind of pink shade. So, wow! Obviously I think Photoshop could probably do wonders for this particular picture, but she's got lots of them. What do you think she should be doing here, Tom? And tell us about that old format.

Tom: Yeah, that's really funny. Back in the day, people just created their own formats, so it’s not recognizable by any other software, because the software says, "Hey, I've never heard of this." What I would like her to do is actually send me some of the jpegs or the TIFFs before she's done any conversion. If you've got some kind of a file format even if it’s weird and can't open it, see if she can at least email it to me or make a copy of the disk and send that to me, because I've got a lot of different programs that open things as well. And what my impression from looking at this is, the interpolation of it is what's messed up. So it went and substituted wrong colors for what it’s supposed to be. So I doubt that they would have deteriorated to this kind of, you know, the blues, the greens, the reds, these really awful colors. And so I think something in that conversion process kind of corrupted the colors. So if I can get the original files, I might be able to open them and something and if so, it'll be an easy fix. If not, if this is the only thing we have to work with, as you mentioned, Photoshop is absolutely wonderful for doing things like this. What I would do first before you go in and try drawing and cleaning up and doing these things, because it almost looks like a reversed negative.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: I’d go in with some different filters. There's some different filters that you can lay over it that will do some different things with the color balance. If that doesn't work, then you can actually go into color manipulation and you can actually like grab these wave forms with your mouse and drag them up and down, left and right and kind of mess around with it until you see things the way that they're supposed to be. And the third option is, you can go in and you can do a find and replace. You can go into like the blue color or whatever and it and say, "Hey, I really want this to be white." and mess around with this on different layers. Just make sure you take your original and make a duplicate of it of it on the layer, duplicate, duplicate, duplicate and then go and label on what you did to them. So you go, "Aha, this is what works!" and then you come back a week later and go, "What was it that I did?"

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, that happens a lot, doesn’t it?!

Tom: It does.

Fisher: All right, Tom. We've got to take a break. What are we going to talk to after that break?

Tom: We've had some people write in to us about different of kinds of film and different kinds of canisters and cases wondering if it too can either be developed or if it’s been developed if it can still be transferred.

Fisher: All right, we'll go to that in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 207

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, we're back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. By the way, referring back to Natalie's email last segment there, Tom, it’s interesting to note that fact she went through and did the most modern thing available for her to preserve her stuff back in the '90s. And now there's nothing out there that reads that format. We're certainly heading down the same path, say in the 2030s or 2040s for some of the stuff we're doing right now.

Tom: Oh yeah! People have to be very careful. We have people bring us in 3 1/2 inch floppy disks all the time and they want us to make it into something readable. And all we really can do is convert it from a floppy to a disk. It’s still going to be the same zeros and the same ones, it’s just now you have a format that you can actually insert it into your computer and hopefully you're going to find some kind of a translator out there that will open it.

Fisher: All right. We have another genie email here. It’s from Shawn Stringham. And Shawn shows actually a photograph, and it looks like he's just holding open a whole bunch of old family home movies. And there's that name again on the box, Kodak. And he said, "Hey, I was wondering if you can transfer these." Well, first of all, what are those Tom?

Tom: Well, that's interesting, too, because Eastman Kodak, and other people like Agfa and things that did the old Super8s, regular8s, they had different cartridges. Everybody was coming up with something fancy. Like back in the day, they had the carousels for slides, they had the cubes, they had the in line kind of carousel type things, different sizes of carousels. So we get weird things like this that they're like in a weird case. And it’s like, "Hey, you know, I don't even have a machine that can play this on my projector. Am I out of luck?" And 99% of the time, we're able to open those up, sometimes we can surgically open them or we have to cut them open to at least be able to get your film out of them. And a lot of times, we have people that come, it’s like you look in this box, you can see a little can in the corner.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And it looks like what's called a hundred foot roll of film. And people get confused and they say, "Oh, hey, I have these two hundred foot roll of films." No, not really. You had this one reel of film that actually went through the machine twice. They ran it, you flipped it over then you ran it again, then you developed it. And then what Kodak would do, they would take this 16mm film that you just shot through your camera twice and cut it into two 8s. And so then you have two 50 foot reels of film, where this one really started out as a 25 foot roll. So people get confused and they say, "Well, this says 25, but it says 50 and it says 100."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: "What is it really?"

Fisher: So you're able to rescue most of this stuff no matter what the containers are. And is this typical around the country, Tom?

Tom: Yeah, it is. There's actually a place in Atlanta called Film Rescue. And they make their own chemicals, because obviously Kodak got out of the business years ago. But they only do it like four times a year. So if you have the old film, you know, you can give us a call, we'll give you the phone number or you can look them up on the internet, it’s called “Film Rescue.” But you need to find out when they're going to be running your processing. And if you say, "Well, what kind of processing do I need?" Usually on the box or the can it will say like "C64" or something like that. If you can't find any writing on it whatsoever, do just like this person did, send them a picture of the box, of the film, anything that might have any notes on it at all and a lot of times, they can look at this and say, "This was Eastman Kodak, but it wasn't New York, it was Los Angeles." And then the Los Angeles places… this is what they were doing. And so a lot of times, they can figure out what kind of processing it’s supposed to need and then they can process it for you properly, then we can scan it and then you've got your DVDs, your BluRays or whatever it is that you need.

Fisher: All right, awesome stuff. Thanks so much. And by the way, if you have a question for Tom, you can reach out to him through email at [email protected] or go onto his Twitter page @AskTomP. Thanks so much, Tom. Talk to you next week.

Tom: Sounds perfect. My pleasure!

Fisher: Hey, that's a wrap for this week. Hey, we want to welcome our very first members of our Extreme Genes Patrons Club. You can go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes or just go to the Patrons Club link at ExtremeGenes.com. Welcome to Adam Mendoza, Chiara DellaVecchia Osborne, James Perrine, Dolores Brown, Joyce Randall Senechal. It’s a growing community. We want you to be a part of it. It’s a great way to support the show and get all kinds of great rewards as well, including early access to the podcast, bonus podcasts for members only and live online chats. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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