Sonia Jędrysiak

Exploring the possibilities of the Digital Humanities

Tag: digitisation

Adventures in Digitisation: Practicum

As part of my MA in Digital Humanities, I’m doing a Practicum with National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. The project has three deliverables: digitisation of at least 6 objects chosen by the Museum supervisor, desk research into current digitization practices in other European Museums and finally, writing a ‘step-by-step’ white paper that would help the Museum staff undertake the digitization themselves and possibly, include it in the future standard practices of objects acquisition. The objectives are clear and achievable in the 3,5 months time frame given for the project. What I’m most excited about is the opportunity to have a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes side of the museum and learning how to work on a project like this – celebrating little victories and tackling the obstacles as they come along. Structure from motion technique can be a very rewarding method when done right.

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Quality Control

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and shoes

With only few days to go before finalizing our project, it became more than clear that the biggest mistakes were made at the very beginning of the project. That being said, we did the best as we thought we could during data capturing session at the National Science Museum in Maynooth.

Before capturing each object we took couple of trial photos, to make sure that the camera settings are right, focus is correct and that the object is placed correctly within the light box (it was also important to determine which background would look better: black or white). Our objects had many brass, glass and polished wood elements which made it very challenging to make sure that there is as little reflectiveness as possible (post factum, we concluded that it would be best to use polarizing filters). Some of the objects had movable parts that would be set in motion as the objects were rotated during capturing, which caused some additional issues with focus. Each taken image was being examined on the camera display, however it was impossible to spot all the flaws on such a small screen.

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The importance of context

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Source: https://standrewsrarebooks.files.wordpress.com

The most difficult part of an analysis of a photograph is the realization that it never exists in a contextual vacuum. Chosen subject, technique used and execution of the shot contains a lot of valuable information about the photograph as a material object, but also about the social meaning behind it. Although the focus of an audience automatically goes to the captured image, it is important not only to ponder upon the reason of why this and not other image was chosen by the author, but also to understand in what context its physical copy exists. Hence, one could argue that the most challenging aspect of digitalization of a photograph, especially historical ones, lies in preserving this contextual materiality.

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