Category Archives: Edinburgh Medical School

The Anatomy of the Horse

Recently I digitised Carlo Ruini’s ‘Anatomia Del Cavallo’ (The Anatomy of the Horse, Diseases and Treatments) as part of our Iconic’s collection on our i2S V-shape cradle scanner. It is a lavishly illustrated anatomic manual on the study of horses and was the first book to focus exclusively on the structure of a species other than man. In Ruini’s estimation, the horse combines ‘great love of man’ with natural docility and is celebrated for its many ways to bring pleasure and assistance to man that it is commemorated everywhere in monuments, tombs, poetry, and painting.

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Victorian Veterinary Journals

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The Anatomy of the Horse. Stubbs, George.

Recently I worked on digitising a small number of volumes of The Veterinary Journal from the late 19th century and late 20th century. Almost 100 years apart, the earlier volumes from 1889-1898 had some questionable advice and cures for ailments including the free use of toxic chemicals and even a few drams of whisky for a horse’s stomach ache! We view these archaic methods nowadays with humour – after all, some absurdities are expected from a late Victorian medical journal.

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Around the World in 90 years- the Story of Historic Leith Improvement Scheme Photographs

When Fraser Parkinson first contacted us about the collection of historic photographs of Leith that he had been entrusted with, my colleagues and I at the Centre for Research Collections were very excited. The photographs were taken to show the slums of Leith prior to the ‘Edinburgh (Leith) Improvement Scheme of 1924’, where large areas were to be cleared and rebuilt. Fraser tells us that:

‘The Town Council Minutes of 3rd April 1924 propose the demolition or reconstruction of ‘certain houses, courts, and alleys unfit for human habitation’.

The concerns of William Robertson, Medical Officer of health for the City and Royal Burgh of Edinburgh, were that the

‘narrowness, closeness and bad arrangement, or the bad condition of the streets and houses, or the want of light, air, ventilation or proper conveniences or other sanitary defects are dangerous or injurious to the health of the inhabitants of the buildings in the said Areas, or of the neighbouring buildings.’

The scheme involved large-scale demolition in this area of Leith, and the re-housing of most displaced residents out-with the areas covered by the scheme.

These photographs were taken as a record of the area at this time by the City Council.  They provided the photographic evidence of the conditions that presented significant risk to public health at this time.’

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DIU Moving Image Update

The work that DIU are developing around moving image has grown considerably in the last two years and the demand for moving image has increased exponentially with each new film produced. We now have around twenty two separate projects archived on the servers, some of these include up to six films in one project.  A good example of that is the Curators short films that appear on the Universities Collections web page. Recently we produced an exhibition introduction film for Towards Dolly : A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh. The Dolly intro film features on the University Collections page, social media and also on the Towards Dolly exhibition App. This is the second exhibition App we have contributed to which is proving a popular way to deliver content. The izi App is a free download from the Apple App store and contains information on the Dolly and “Out Of The Blue” exhibitions. We have also made our first contact with digitising 8mm film in the form of Eric Lucy’s “Drosophila Egg” for the Towards Dolly exhibition which is currently open.

Projects under way at writing include time-lapse films “Documenting the Redevelopment of St Cecilia’s Hall” the first section of which you can see below. This section is the very early stages and we are now starting to film the deconstruction of the 1960’s caretakers flat. This is an ongoing project which shall also include film of musical instrument conservation work to be shown on screen within the new development and musical performance using the collection itself.

The performances captured already include the exhibition opening concert for “The Stuart Sound” exhibition currently open in the Centre for Research Collections which featured a beautiful performance of the anonymous, ”  but probably” Padua Lute circa 1620. Also captured are the recording sessions from the Edinburgh College Music Box Studio. These are active projects still to be completed.

In addition we have created seven two minute films as content for the upcoming Main Library guide App soon to be released on the Apple and Android App stores. We also have a ton of footage still to be bashed and coerced into a watch-able form. Watch this space for new material soon.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer.

A lot of scanning and a little context

I am now coming to the end of my internship here in the Digital Imaging Unit. Over the past twelve weeks I have been responsible for digitising a large number of documents as part of the Godfrey Thomson Project. Collecting the project documents from Neasa, the Godfrey Thomson Archives Intern, I would then be required to capture every document individually using the Bookeye 4 Scanner (a machine that I have got to know very well lately, and one that behaves rather well, all told!).

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Photo Bombed

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A large order from the Lothian Health Services Archive came our way recently, which included postcards from the hospital & group portraits of staff and patients. In amongst them I discovered an early example of photo bombing- look between the shoulders of the 2 chaps in the centre of the back row- I love combination of serious faces of the people posing and the incongruous jaunty feet in the air behind them. Was this intentional? Or did he simply happen to be doing a handstand at the time…?

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It’s Not All Books…

As photographers for the Special Collections in the University of Edinburgh Main Library, we’ve seen a fair amount of beautiful books and manuscripts, but the diversity of the collections, both here at the Library and from other locations around the University always surprises me. Many of these have been bought to us for photography over the years, and on occasion, we have had to decamp from the studio and go out to the collection. In 2012 we were asked to go to St Cecilia’s Hall to take photographs for a Calendar to promote the redevelopment project, then in its infancy. We had a fantastic week photographing harpsichords, guitars and lutes in the 18th Century Hall to place them within their context. The instruments provided us with many challenges: harpsichords are not the easiest to light to bring out the gold details and elaborate painting – particularly not in a room with mixed light sources and green walls. In one shot taken by my colleague, Malcolm Brown, we were asked to show the whole object as if looking from above. Thankfully, the curator allowed us to turn the instrument on its side, although we sometimes tell people who ask us how it was done that we had Malcolm suspended from the ceiling Mission Impossible style to take the photo. Further information about St Cecilia’s can be found at http://www.stcecilias.ed.ac.uk/about.html

 

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Another highlight for us was the visit to the Anatomy museum to photograph the murderer William Burke’s Skeleton (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_and_Hare_murders). On arrival at the museum we discovered that there was major building work going on outside and the drilling was causing vibrations through the floor. At the time we were working with a Hasselblad multishot which took 16 shots to build up a very high resolution image so the slightest movement would ruin the shot. We had to try to shoot in the lulls between drilling- the challenges of location photography!

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We were also lucky enough to photograph the magnificent Renaissance Giambologna bronze Ecorche horse. Having decided that we wanted the photographs to be low key, dark images to bring out every muscle ripple and vein, we had to carefully light the cast so that it was distinct from the background. This required reflectors to be suspended from the ceiling to run a highlight up the neck and others to be held in place during the shots, a real team effort.

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3 dimensional objects always require more thought to the lighting to bring out subtle textures and details as you can see in this image of a Gandharan Sculpture, whereas the challenge of metallic surfaces is to hide unwanted reflections.

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It is always exciting to photograph these wonderful objects that have made their way into the University collections, and recently we have even seen some ‘Book Sculptures’ too.

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Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

The Universal Herbal

Fascinating book of the month requested for digitisation in the DIU goes to Thomas Greens “The Universal Herbal; or, botanical, medical, and agricultural dictionary. Containing an account of all the known plants in the world, arranged according to the Linnean system. With the best methods of propagation, and the most recent agricultural improvements.”  The book is lyrically illustrated with basic but pragmatic hand colouring befitting it’s dictionary status. However it is a visually delicious looking two volume set with some unusual and intriguing entries as can be seen below. Broad-leaved Bastard Parsley is certainly a new one to me.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer

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Happy New Year!

Have you been doing too much of this recently?

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And started the year with a splitting headache…

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Or maybe you got stranded by the winter storms….

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And had to be looked after by others…

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Either way, now that we have started a new calendar

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The DIU team hope that 2014 will bring you manna from heaven!

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New Photography for Main Library Exhibition – Collect.ed

The Digital Imaging Unit have been working on an amazingly diverse range of material recently thanks to a new exhibition being prepared for the Main Library by exhibitions intern Emma Smith. Collect.ed is the title of the exhibition described as “Curiosities from the University’s collections”. This work has presented the challenge of photographing a cast of the serial killer Burke’s brain, seven prehistoric shark’s teeth and a fabulous box of shells collected by Charles Darwin himself. Collect.ed will open on 5th December 2013 and run until  1 st March 2014, Monday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm, Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, Free Admission!

Malcolm Brown

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