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Monona Rossol

I had the honor of listening to Monona Rossol speak while attending a Health and Safety round table during the 42nd AIC annual meeting. Monona is a champion and pioneer in thought when it comes to the health and safety of artists. I just wanted to put out here the title of one of her comprehensive books, "The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide" and a link to the website.

After listening to her, I came back to my studio with a newfound respect for the dangers conservators are exposed to every day and made some changes in my own practice. I highly urge everyone to at least browse the literature she has written and investigate for yourself.

ACTS: health and safety in art and theater



How to Evaluate Light Bulbs for Quality

Choosing lighting for your workspace can be intimidating.  Most people now know that poor-quality bulbs affect your ability to distinguish colors correctly.  But when you're in a store, how do you know which ones are the best for your studio?

Everyone knows that watts correspond to light strength.  We now know, however, that different kinds of bulbs produce different light output with the same wattage. LED and compact fluorescent bulbs use fewer watts than incandescent and halogen for the same amount of output.  That light output is measured in lumens; a typical modern 60-watt incandescent bulb outputs 800 lumens.

Recently, consumer bulb packaging is beginning to list a specification called CRI, or Color Rendering Index.  This is a measurement of how colors from 8 standard pigment samples are rendered in that light.  A value of 100 means it is equivalent to sunlight or the classic incandescent bulbs everyone's trying to replace.  Bulbs with a CRI of less than 80 don't render well, and the California Energy Commission says that bulbs with a CRI of less than 90 aren't eligible for the planned rebates.

The problem with CRI is that it doesn't tell the whole story.  

Read more: How to Evaluate Light Bulbs for Quality

Gamblin Sample

In April Robert Gamblin is giving a talk on his conservation colors and in my digging around I found a wonderful supplement to his samples!

take me sample land




Nikon DSLR's for Cultural Heritage Documentation

Last year I decided to upgrade from my trusty Nikon D80 in order to get some new features like live view, sensor cleaning, wireless options and video.  I also wanted my next camera to be capable of performing various functions for cultural heritage imaging like RTI for our practice Kept Art Restoration. In the process I made some unhappy discoveries that really don't emerge when reading spec sheets or even reviews.

I have a set of DX lenses and didn't want to buy new lenses.  This limited my choices to the D3200, D5200 and D7100.

D3200: No Tethered Capture

On paper the D3200 looked like it would suffice, but it turns out that this device, and its predecessor the D3100, are the only Nikon DSLR models in the last five years or so that do not support operation via USB cable ("tethered capture"), which is required for our RTI workflow.  The only way I could have known that before buying it was by reading the compatibility lists of tethered capture software like Sofortbild, but at the time the camera was too new for any of those software developers to mention them. Also there is no drive motor, but that hadn't affected me yet (see below). So back it went.

D5200: NO Drive Motor

I really wanted the D5200 to work.  It has a nifty flip-out screen that is not only great for video, but is really attractive for copy-stand work, to avoid having to crane uncomfortably over the rig.  It wasn't too expensive, is supported by app developers for tethered capture, had in-camera HDR, great autofocus, and was only a little larger and heavier than the D3200.  Alas, it does not include a focusing drive motor.  Not a problem for my main lens (the Nikkor 18-200 VR has its own motor). But my all-important (for shooting art) Nikkor 60mm macro and my best-looking lens (the Nikkor 50mm prime) became incredibly difficult to use, especially shooting outdoors where the LCD was hard to see.  So back it went.

D7100: This Is The One

Read more: Nikon DSLR's for Cultural Heritage Documentation

Cultural Heritage Imaging

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI)

Mike Jennings and I had the fortunate experience to attend the half day training session at CHI on June 4th, 2012. This group of folks, Carla Schroer, Mark Mudge and Marlin Lum, are leading the way in RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging), Algorithmic Rendering, Photogrammetry and Digital Lab Notebook. They have a mission and are extending the vision across the globe. CHI Training

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) drives development and adoption of practical digital imaging and preservation solutions for people passionate about saving humanity's treasures today, before they are lost.The principles that guide our work are leading to new and easy-to-learn imaging techniques that can be made available and accessible to people all over the world. By providing tools, technology, and training, CHI drives the adoption of new practices by a broad constituency, from major art museums to remote archaeological sites to fields in the natural sciences.

Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) fosters the development and adoption of technologies for digital capture and documentation of the world’s cultural, scientific, and artistic treasures. We do this by collaborating with experts from around the world in cultural preservation, natural history collections, computer imaging science, museum/library science, and data archiving. 

Personally, this half day session provided valuable information that I can utilize and begin on a journey of new understanding in RTI CHIwhich I hope to follow up on in the future. The team is very generous and open on sharing their intellectual property and are trying to make this technology something that every conservator and restorer can use in every day documention. I highly recommend going to their web site and learning about how and why they are making the valuable technology "user friendly".

CHI Technologies

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