Monthly Archives: February 2014

Innovative Learning Week at University of Edinburgh

The Digital Imaging Unit filmed various Pecha Kucha as part of Innovative Learning Week February 2014. A few of the talks are available on the CRC Facebook page at :

Malcolm Brown

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Volunteering in the DIU

I have been volunteering with the Digital Imaging Unit for about a year, during which time I have been researching and adding metadata to their digital collection, as well as selecting images for a recent postcard project. It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know the breadth of the University’s Collections and contribute to its online visibility.

As a student of the (MA) Fine Art degree  looking to start a career in the archive and museum sector, volunteering with the DIU has not only provided me with relevant work experience, but also enriched my visual and art historical knowledge by exposing me to an incredible variety of pictorial material.

The collection has a number of beautiful images of old Edinburgh and it is remarkable to see how, in some ways, so little has changed in the city landscape.


Glass-plate slides are such wonderful objects and these have incredibly vibrant colours. This particular image seems to be a photograph of the Bois de Boulogne, a park close to where my grandmother lived in Paris.

Bois du Boulogne.

The Capybaras, or Capivaras, are a type of giant rodents indigenous to the region I grew up in Brazil. It was a lovely surprise to discover this image in the University’s collection of Zoological Illustrations.


One of the many fascinating items I’ve had the pleasure to research for the DIU, a 17th century book detailing comet sightings throughout history, accompanied by intricate illustrations.


Pigs, pumpkins and ostriches… what more could you want?


Alice Tod

Facit Calculator Photography

0055792dThe Digital Imaging Unit recently had the mechanical calculating machine from the Godfrey Thomson Project to photograph. The calculator has this beautifully resolved logo which struck me as a little unusual for such an early and niche product. However discovering the company was Swedish explains such attention to design. The swift rise and decline of the company is a stark warning about ignoring research, development and competition

The calculator was photographed using the DIU infinity table lit from below with key and fill lighting arranged carefully to maximize all the detail and information present in the calculator. This was a challenge given the black colour and metallic reflective nature of the material. In addition multiple exposures were taken and the final set of images were assembled in Adobe Photoshop.

Malcolm Brown



Digitising Darwin

Heiskell DarwinOver the years several Darwin originals have made their way to us for photography- a handwritten sheet from the manuscript of ‘On the Origin of Species’, his class cards, letters and recently some shells collected by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle which had been rediscovered amongst Lyell’s geology collection. This week I was delighted to receive a whole trolley load of books from the Darwin collection which were being photographed in preparation for a printed catalogue. The Rare Books and Manuscripts team have already completed the online cataloguing (see their blog about this mini-project here ).

Much of what arrived in the DIU was from the Heiskell Darwin collection- a donation of first editions made to the University in 2012 from the Heiskell Bibliographical Foundation, although some beautiful plates from the ‘The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle’ came from our existing collection. As our image archive of Darwin is growing, I thought it might be nice to show some of the highlights here.

Susan Pettigrew

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