Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Piper Magazine Photography

For many years the Digital Imaging Unit have been the primary photographers for The Piper Magazine. The Piper is The Friends of Edinburgh University Library twice-yearly illustrated newsletter. The DIU enjoy the challenge of photographing a diverse range of fascinating material that comes our way for the magazine. This has included the friends purchase of  Holinshed’s Chronicles on one occasion and this new edition demonstrates particularly good marriage between the layout design of Mark Blackadder and the photography of DIU photographer Susan Pettigrew.

It would be a terrific resource to have the previous issues of The Piper made available as pdf downloads from The Friends website. The current exhibition in the Main Library celebrates Fifty Years, Fifty Books: purchases by the Friends of Edinburgh University Library, 1962-2012 Exhibition Gallery, Main Library, George Square 28 March to 14 June 2014. The exhibition is well worth a look and illuminating as usual. The DIU also photograph all exhibition openings in the Library. Below are some images from the 50/50 opening night.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer.


Outdoor Exhibition Bristo Square

Images created by the Digital Imaging Unit feature in a new exhibit outside the Dugald Stewart Building in Bristo square. It is fantastic to see how well our images respond to being enlarged many times beyond the original object size. It justifies our workflow of capture once at high quality re-purpose many times. Indeed these images were created at various times and were pulled together from our online resource for this exhibit. This exhibit also makes us keenly aware of the importance of our colour management workflow. We use hardware to colour calibrate our monitors after every 200 hours of use and it pays off when you see the images in an unusual format greatly enlarged and in broad daylight.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer


A Spring Time Natural History

Maybe it is this lovely spring weather that has got me thinking about the wonderful books on Natural History in our Collections. Perhaps the most notable of which is  The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, Vol.II, 1846 by John James Audubon. Famed for his fine artistry, life-like poses and inclusion of habitats, this naturalist was regularly quoted by such towering figures as Darwin.


Darwin himself edited several volumes, documenting The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle.  Including Pt.2: Mammalia by George R. Waterhouse.

Heiskell Darwin

One original we have completed in its entirety is the book by Edinburgh’s own James Wilson, Illustrations of Zoology. Surely this is the next candidate to be converted into the book reader format? Here you can see ‘The Great White Dolphin’ (Beluga) drawn by Patrick Syme and engraved by W.H. Lizars. James Wilson tells us that ‘For three months in 1815 a White Whale was observed to inhabit the Firth (‘Frith’) of Forth’.

0010939d Another of my favourites is the Herbal De Historia Stirpium, 1542 by Fuchs – the man who gave his name to the flower Fuchsia.

0004715dAnd who could fail to love this frog from Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, Vol.2?

0004145dOr miss the delicate beauty in the fronds of Hypnum preserved in the Album of Scottish Mosses, circa 1828? 


There are many more fantastic images from our Natural History  books, a few of which can be found by clicking the links below

After all this, I recommend a walk through one of Edinburgh’s many parks to see a bit of nature on your doorstep!

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

New Images & New Collection Publically Available

Last week we were very pleased to make 864 new images available to the public. In the DIU we had recently completed a batch of nearly 1000 high quality images from Readers Orders and Staff requests, so we handed these over to Library Digital Development Team to upload into LUNA . Of the images that could be made available to the public…

372 Images were added to the Western Medieval Manuscripts Collection

0055682d196 Images were added to the CRC Gallimaufry Collection


162 Images were added to the New College Collection

54 Images were added to the Roslin Institute Collection


11 Images were added to the Architectural Drawings Collection

10 Images were added to the Salvesen Collection

10 Images were added to the University of Edinburgh Collection and

8 Images were added to the Incunabula Collection

0055707dHowever, we are perhaps most excited to announce the new collection of ECA Rare Books . Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence has been very busy cataloguing these books (see our earlier post ) and tells us that the “Rare Books Collection of Edinburgh College of Art, includes about 1,500 items, which date from before 1489 to the twentieth century. Most of them are printed books; many of them are illustrated. It is particularly strong in books of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on architecture, design and ornament. There are also nineteenth-century photographs, examples of textile design, and early nineteenth-century hand-painted designs for Edinburgh Shawls. Many of the books originated in the collections of the institutions which preceded ECA: the drawing academy of the Board of Trustees for Manufactures in Scotland, and the School of Applied Art. This collection is now housed in the Centre for Research Collections in the Main Library”.

0055640d 0055616d 0055488d

Making new images available requires a real team effort, and I’d like to say a special thanks to Deputy Photographer Malcolm Brown, Scott Renton & all the Library Digital Development Team, and of course Elizabeth Quarmby Lawrence for all the metadata!

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

Volunteer work at the Digital Imaging Unit

The Centre for Research Collections is a remarkable resource for students at Edinburgh University, not only for research purposes, but also for experience working with collections.  I am an MSc student studying Material Cultures and the History of the Book.  As part of the course we were encouraged to volunteer within the CRC.  My interests lie in the field of the visual arts and the materiality of books, specifically the in the world of digital media.  Serena Fredrick at the CRC was able to match me up with the Digital Imaging Unit and within the DIU I have been researching and enhancing the metadata for one of the university’s photographic image collections: the Hill and Adamson Collection.  Hill and Adamson are world-renowned pioneers of early photographic techniques.  Building on the work of Englishman Henry Fox-Talbot, they created some iconic images of mid-nineteenth century Edinburgh from their studio on Calton Hill.0011901d
Hill and Adamson’s original creative remit was to capture portraits of leading members of the Free Church of Scotland who had been involved in the disruption of the established Church of Scotland in 1843, with the intent of using these portraits as study aids for a massive painting commemorating the disruption.
Soon word of this new means of portraiture spread and Hill and Adamson started creating images of and for Edinburgh society. The collection is full of images of friends and family of Hill and Adamson, as well as being a veritable who’s who in Edinburgh.
Hill and Adamson realised that this artform could also be used as a form of documentary reporting and began taking photographs of the Newhaven fishermen and women, as evidence of a strong, united and self-sufficient community.
Unfortunately Hill and Adamson’s collaboration was short-lived due to Adamson’s continually failing health and eventual death at the age of only 27 in 1848. However, during their prolific partnership they were responsible for the creation of thousands of incredible images. I have loved being a part of the team bringing this collection onto a digital platform and increasing access to such an important and exciting set of images. Here are a few of my favourite images, all of which can be found at:
1 calotype, print size 4.
Newhaven 1. 5 calotypes, print size 4.  Unbound images.
Caroline Ramsay, MSc Material Cultures and the History of the Book

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