Category Archives: Collections

Instrumental Challenges

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Last week saw the start of a new project- photographing many of the University’s Musical Instruments while they are in storage at the Library during the re-development of St. Cecilia’s Music Hall. These images are planned for use in the new museum space, in printed materials, for social media and interactive Apps. The only guidance we have been given is ‘coffee-table book’ which gives the DIU team huge scope for interpretation and creativity. As the project progresses we hope to bring 3D photography into the mix, but for starters, this week the musical instruments team brought me 3 items for some studio shots.

The first was a Triple-fretted clavichord, possibly Flemish and c1620 (ref. 4486). Although this piece was quite simple and unadorned, it did have a bright red ribbon woven through the strings and the keys made a beautiful pattern, so I decide on a detail shot to highlight the mechanism.

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The second item was a Rahab from Western Malaysia, c1977 (ref. 2101). This was a far more ornate and colourful piece. In fact, I was torn- both the front and back of the instrument presented interesting features to photograph, but how to get both sides at once? While at the Rijksmuseum conference Malcolm and I were impressed by their use of a black reflective surface in the photography of fashion accessories (see https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/formats/accessoires/index.jsp?lang=en). Malcolm suggested that we might be able to get a similar effect using a piece of black velvet and some glass, so I set up the studio to try it out. In the end I chose an angle looking down on the instrument that allowed details of both the strings and the red woollen back to be seen, however, the reflection adds further interest to the shot.

The final piece presented quite a different challenge. It is very rare that an object comes to us that leaves me scratching my head, but the ‘Jingling Johnny’ or Chapeau (ref. 6110) certainly did. A large, top heavy shiny brass instrument covered with dangling bells and fragile metalwork set atop a stick- how to keep it upright and perfectly still? The many shiny surfaces indicate that we will need to build a light tent to minimise reflections. This was clearly going to require some thought and planning, so we reluctantly decided to return this one to the store to reconvene another day!

In the coming months we will keep you posted on the projects progress.

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

Monsters & Maps Printed under the Watchful Dog

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Last week Mercator’s beautiful Atlas sive Cosmographicae found its way into the DIU, only after it arrived did we discover that it was actually his 503rd Birthday, a fact celebrated by google with a Google Doodle http://www.google.com/doodles/gerardus-mercators-503rd-birthday.

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Explore the Geology with LUNA

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Last week we were very excited to see a new LUNA collection go live- ‘Geology & Geologists’. This brings together images from the CRC’s Lyell collection (a wonderful mixture of correspondence and drawings), Arthur Holmes Geology medals, as well as recent images from The Cockburn Museum, School of GeoSciences. The Cockburn collection contains photographs of past Professors, and historic photos of the department as well as plates of fossilised fish.

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The National Monument of Scotland

Playfair, William Henry (b.1789, d.1857)  Return of Western Portico, 1826

Playfair, William Henry (b.1789, d.1857) Return of Western Portico, 1826

The Digital Imaging Unit has digitised many architectural drawings held in University of Edinburgh special collections over the years. They always present a challenge because of thier scale. They offer a fascinating glimpse of history in relation to many of the buildings in Edinburgh that we are familiar with on a daily basis. I think many of us have a positive relationship with the National Monument more commonly known as the Acropolis on Calton Hill. Continue reading

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3 Additions to the LUNA Book Reader Collection

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We kick off 2015 with the addition of 3 new Book Readers added to LUNA. The first two are both music manuscripts that came down to the DIU as part of the Readers Orders trolley. It is not often that we receive volumes to be digitised in their entirety this way, so it seemed a good opportunity. As a result we spared a bit of time to do the additional work to prepare them for the book reader software after the High Resolution images had been delivered to the customers. Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Book in Scotland and the Oldest Scottish Manuscript?

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The new Ms 39 Book of Hours available in LUNA Book Reader

We are delighted to announce that 2 manuscripts have been added to our growing collection of Book Readers in LUNA!

The first is Ms 39, an amazing early 15th century Book of Hours, with rich gold work, detailed miniatures and vibrant colours. See http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/d4wx22 for the Book Reader. A note in the front of the book claims this is the most beautiful book in Scotland, what do you think? What are the other contender’s? Continue reading

Iconic Photography

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Clement Litill’s 1580 bequest charter

Part of our remit in the DIU has been to work through a list of ‘Iconic’ Items from the collection in our spare time. Over the years we have completed the digitisation of some outstanding manuscripts and collections in this way, from the Hill and Adamson photographs (a personal favourite- see http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/jl5w63) to the wonderful Laing Album Amicorum (see http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/6oh338 ). Continue reading

RANDOMS

I wanted to share some fantastic images that have come through the Digital Imaging Unit via general random digitization requests. This material is bound for individual researchers and would normally pass under the radar. We have enough amazing material passing through DIU to make this a monthly blog feature. First up is from “Zoology of Egypt, Reptilia and Batrachia” by John Anderson Shelfmark : L*.17.93. The whole book is packed with outstanding images and worthy of digitisation in its entirety.

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Welcome to the Main Library

On Monday the 08/09/14 the DIU team set our time-lapse camera up in the main library forum to capture the first day of freshers week. It turned out to be a busy day.  Over 4000 people came in through the front doors. As staff we are mostly buried away in work rooms and offices therefore we don’t see the footfall through out the library. What an exciting and happening place!

Malcolm Brown Deputy Photographer

Welcome to the Library from DIGITAL IMAGING UNIT FILM on Vimeo.

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Photographists and the Grand Tour

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One of my daily problems in this job is being drawn into the objects we are digitising- it is always too tempting to start reading, and yesterday was one of the toughest challenges I have faced! A reader had requested a book-scan copy of a transcript from a Diary of John Shaw Smith and his wife Mary as they did the Grand Tour of the Mediterranean and Middle East between 1849-1852 (see http://www.archives.lib.ed.ac.uk/catalogue/cs/viewcat.pl?id=GB-237-Coll-20&view=basic ). Perhaps it was that John Shaw Smith was one of the earliest photographers to visit these regions (see http://www.luminous-lint.com/app/photographer/John_Shaw__Smith/A/), or perhaps it was because I have visited many of the places they travelled to, however once I started I became fascinated by the lively, sharp witted pair and their adventures. Continue reading