Category Archives: Edinburgh College of Art

2 and 3D Reflections

IMG_0334-2It is hard to believe that more than a month has passed since the fantastic “2 and 3D: Practice and Prophecies” Conference at the Rijksmuseum in April. So much was packed into those 2 short days: standardisation in colour and targets (who knew standards were so non-standard?), mass-digitisation and bespoke object specific photography techniques, panoramas, multispectral and 3D imaging, digital asset management and the role of photography in heritage institutions. This was a heritage photography event not to be missed, which is why I was delighted when the Association for Historical and Fine Art Photographers (AHFAP) offered me their competition bursary to attend. I gathered so much information in Amsterdam that I am still sifting through the notes and links and chasing up my post –conference ‘to do’ list! However, I would like to share a few of my highlights from the conference. Continue reading

Roslin Slide Collection – Composition

Black Japanese Bull, 4 as 5 Years, 1090 lbs'. Photograph of a Black Japanese bull, 4 as 5 years old and weighing 1090 lbs standing in a lane with a man holding its rope lead in the early 20th century.

Over the course of digitising the Roslin Slide Collection, amongst all the slides of tables, charts and the like, it has been the images of people, and their animals, that have grabbed my attention most of all. I have noticed two particular styles of photographic composition that are common throughout; the group shot (still popular today of course!) and the ‘one man and his animal’ shot. These images provide a sort of typology where the composition often remains the same with the people and environment changing. Continue reading

A Traquair Treat

0057151dAs there were several separate requests recently for images from the splendid ‘Song School St Mary’ manuscript by Phoebe Anna Traquair, we decided the time was right to digitise the book from cover to cover, replacing some fairly mixed quality old digital images and preparing it for the LUNA Book Reader http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/109unz . This item is one of my favourites (yes, I know I have many…), and it is a beautifully illuminated, vibrantly coloured, jewel-like treasure. Although made in 1897, Traquair created this on vellum, which adds to the impression of exquisite quality. Continue reading

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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Globe trekking with the Roslin Glass Slides Collection

'Step Cutting on Ice Face, Tasman Glacier, New Zealand'. Photograph of two men step cutting on the ice face of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Currently I am based in the Digital Imaging Unit where I am responsible for digitising a large number of glass plate positive slides (about 3500!) which make up part of the Towards Dolly Project within the Roslin Collection. The digitisation project itself – aptly named ‘Science on a Plate’ – is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is due for completion at the end of April 2015. Only this week, the first batch of 1000 images have been made publicly accessible via the University of Edinburgh Image Collections website.

Having worked through over 1300 images so far, it is difficult to know where to start when attempting to whittle down the numbers to a small selection of favourites to post here. I have, therefore, simply chosen a handful of images that seem to jump out at me for one reason or another. These images do something to represent the wide-reaching nature of the Roslin Glass Slides Collection; many document people and animals at a particular time and place, whilst others are more informative and study-based. The collection contains images that span the globe. I am constantly surprised as I move through them. One minute I will be looking at a photograph of a Clydesdale horse at a show in Brunstane Park, Edinburgh, and the next minute I will be looking at a sable in eastern Africa or an indigenous tribe in India. The collection is vast, diverse and engaging all at once. Continue reading

Photographing the Josephine Baker Bronze by Eduardo Paolozzi

An exciting new exhibition on the 6th floor of the main library in the Centre for Research Collections opens on the 13th November 2014 and runs until 27th of February 2015. The exhibition will include a selection of Edinburgh Universities collection of Paolozzi plaster maquettes which are wonderful three dimensional drawings of his ideas. The Digital Imaging Unit was tasked to photograph the Josephine Baker Bronze to coincide with this exhibition. We have produced a short day in the life film of the Digital Imaging Unit at work on the Paolozzi Bronze which you can see below. A larger better quality version is available by clicking the vimeo link below the film.

I first became aware of Paolozzi through an exhibition held at the Royal Scottish Academy for the Edinburgh 1984 International Festival called "Recurring Themes” , I still own the catalogue. His work and life made a lasting impression on me as a young man. The early collage work blew my mind and the way he fed pop culture back to ourselves dismantled and rearranged raising questions about pop culture itself was remarkable. Continue reading

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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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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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RASHID AL-DIN 1314 Library Exhibition Time Lapse Film

For the past month or so the DIU have been capturing our first ever time lapse footage of the installation of the current library festival exhibition RASHID AL-DIN 1314. We filmed over several weeks trying to capture the main installation events. This included the prep work by conservation, the delivery of objects from the National Museum, swathes of discussion over the exhibition, hard core carpentry skills and an insane press pack in full flight all leading up to the opening night. What we captured is only part of the story in that all the planning had been completed and work scheduled before shooting began including our own part of supplying the images for the display boards and background supports. It has been a huge revelation to see and document the level of application that goes into creating a Library exhibition. The overriding impression is of a truly massive collaborative effort involving many departments across institutions. Definitely worth a watch if only for the wonderful music by our very own Art Collections Curator Neil Lebeter.

RASHID AL-DIN 1314 Library Exhibition Time Lapse Film from DIGITAL IMAGING UNIT FILM on Vimeo.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer.