Day Two

Conference Programme for Day Two, 15 June 2011

Alan Newman, National Gallery of Art Washington DC
Workflow processes of the Photographic Studio of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Division of Digital Imaging and Visual Services (DIVS) at the National Gallery of Art (US) provides institutional infrastructure and technical leadership in digital image capture, quality assurance, storage, retrieval, and delivery. The Gallery’s rapid transition from analogue to digital imaging systems in 2004 necessitated the staged implementation of a comprehensive digital asset-management strategy—a suite of interlocking applications, technical workflows, and image quality controls—which is core to the DIVS Digital Imaging Program.

To realise the first stage—management of high-quality direct digital captures of art—the Gallery acquired and configured Extensis Portfolio Server1. The Portfolio manages all digital assets created or acquired by the division as well as technical, administrative, and descriptive image metadata. It also supports many functional services at the Gallery, including review and management of extant colour transparencies, seamless management of images for the National Gallery’s intranet and public websites, colour-proofing method, and conservation treatment metadata.

By developing the image repository in stages, we were able to secure a low-risk, lower cost DAM solution for an immediate need at the division-level while deferring the second stage—a long-term, enterprise-level digital asset management system—until we had other necessary pieces in place such as:

—IRIS (Internal Request for Image Services), an online (web-based) work order management system for imaging services that supports all internal image order management and fulfilment.

—NGA Images (currently under development for launch in July, 2011), a public-facing e-commerce website for rights-managed licensing and image distribution.

—A planned Intellectual Property system to manage permissions received from copyright owners for images of works in the Gallery’s collections as well as images of works from temporary loan exhibitions or secured for publication. This will enable all rights, inbound and outbound, to be recorded and explained unambiguously.

—A planned enterprise DAM to provide a structured framework for the organisation, preservation, and retrieval of digital images for all Gallery departments.

This process is described in RLGDigi news Volume 10, Number 6 ISSN 1093-5371, Digital Image Asset Management at the National Gallery of Art, A. Newman & P. Dueker, http://tinyurl.com/yftrvol

The use of industry-standard ICC colour management helps ensure image quality control that is consistent across all image versions and outputs. This production environment enables an open-loop colour workflow and begins with ‘use-neutral’, high-resolution master files to create a variety of derivative files for specific needs (e.g., inkjet and laser printing, pre-press imaging solutions, conservation documentation, and web publishing).

Core to the image management and fulfilment strategy is a nested series of quality assessments for legacy analogue images. Digital images that are scans of these legacy images are matched to the transparency and, when possible, are matched directly against the art object. Ideally the art should be captured with a high-end digital camera in the digital imaging studios, then colour-corrected and proofed while the art is available for reference. Not all digital assets possess the same quality level. Assets may be (listed in descending order of image quality):

—High-end direct digital captures of art
—Rapid capture images using a DSLR camera and batch colour edits
—Scans of transparencies using different quality scanners (where the transparencies may have varying degrees of quality)

Also included in the DAM are specialised captures for conservation documentation such as images at different stages of conservation treatment and UV fluorescent imaging. The DAM must be able to identify what uses are appropriate for each type of asset, for which users each asset may be made available, and provide technical data so the source of the asset is communicated to the user.

Ken Jackson, V&A
Rapid image projects

Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, Marten Teigen, Ellen Holte,
Documentation Department at The Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway

Talk Slides – Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, Ellen Holte, Mårten Teigen (PDF – 10mb)

Our field of work covers a wide range of competence due to the extreme variations of artifacts: close working cooperation with scientists and technical curators for documentation of new archeological discoveries, exhibition production in interdisciplinary teams, and photographic participation in the REVITA project, a complete review and revision of our collections.

We are responsible for Norway’s largest collection of archaeological documentation, approximately 700,000 photographs. The extensive photographic archive includes pictures of its collections, archaeological sites, excavations, and anthropological expeditions and Antarctic explorations. Roughly 165,000 digitised images can be accessed from our online database at www.unimus.no/foto/

We would like to present our working methods. Everything from specialisation to conveyer-belt photography and from coins to Viking ships, showing the challenges we face on a daily basis.

Steve Cole, English Heritage
Imaging a Nation

Talk Slides – Steve Cole (PDF – 9.8mb)

This talk will look at a number of sites around England that are managed by English Heritage as historic sites and tourist attractions, highlighting the work of the Imaging section.

As well as the sites under the care of English Heritage it will also be an opportunity to discover some of the more unusual buildings and monuments that fall within English Heritage’s sphere of interest, many formerly ‘top secret’ sites.

The paper will also explore the changing technology used to capture our heritage and make it visible to a wider audience.

Roderick Ewart
A Scandinavian perspective

Dani Tagen
A Brazilian perspective

Talk Slides – Dani Tagen (PDF – 3.5mb)

Cassandra Parsons
Photography at the Wallace Collection

Talk Slides – Cassandra Parsons (PDF – 4.5mb)

This talk is about the experience of working on a photography project at a small museum, detailing how and why the European Arms and Armour project was embarked on, what happened when I joined the museum, and the struggle to photograph such a large collection with a tiny budget, very few staff and no studio! This will be accompanied with many photographs of the project and some of the final results as well as covering how I dealt with shooting and lighting such smooth, shiny objects. I will also demonstrate our digital catalogue, which is the product of this five-year project.

James Davis
Web Content in the Tate Gallery

Latest ambitions and innovations for the next-generation Tate website..

Tony Harris, Government Art Collection, UK
Podcasting – based on on a true story

Talk Slides – Tony Harris (PDF – 1.1mb)

Some thoughts on how to start podcasting. A beginners tale.

Government Art Collection podcast channel on YouTube

Graham Brandon, V&A
Workshop on Performance photography.

This talk will consist of a live photography event of a short staged performance, with a critique of the images made. Brandon is one of the few museum photographers employed to record theatrical performance for archive purposes. He will describe and show the approach he takes when undertaking photography in the theatre. Delegates will be encouraged to undertake performance photography themselves and jointly criticise their own work.

A short film of the performance can be seen below.

Poster displays & online demos

Tony Harris
Building an iPhone app

Clare Johnson
Retouching the Lafayette Archive

Paul Gardner
Layer masks