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Selecting a method of image capture


Three main factors were taken into consideration when deciding on an appropriate method of image capture for FARNE material:

1. The age and condition of the material.

The condition of archival material can vary greatly according to the method in which the item has been stored. Exposure to varying temperatures, light and humidity, as well as the frequency and nature in which an item is handled can all contribute to its condition.

The oldest item in the FARNE archive is the Henry Atkinson manuscript of 1694. Whilst the Atkinson manuscript is held in ideal conditions by Northumberland Record Office, deterioration in paper quality can only be expected in an item of this age. The manuscript will have had many homes during its lifetime and will undoubtedly have been exposed to varying degrees of light, damp and heat. It was therefore extremely important to select the correct method of image capture for this manuscript, and others like it, in order to prevent any further damage during the digitisation process.

In cases where we felt items were too fragile to be scanned using a conventional flatbed scanner, it was necessary to use specialist equipment. The picture below shows the purpose built camera used for photographing fragile or oversized items.

Bronica Digital Camera
Bronica Digital Camera.


Attached to the back of the Bronica 80mm camera is a digital scanner back. The camera is mounted on a stand which can be lowered and raised depending on the type of material being photographed. The item is rested on the cradle below the camera where it can be fully supported and photographed without incurring any damage. Lights at each side of the camera ensure the item is evenly lit.

Bronica Digital Camera
Bronica Digital Camera.


2. Size and format of the material

Many of the items FARNE has digitised were simply too large to be captured using a traditional scanner. Although the scanner was large enough to capture images up to the size of A3, large song sheets and advertisements often exceeded this. In these cases it was necessary to use the mounted camera. The camera could be raised to its full height in order to accommodate large items. The powerful camera lens prevented any reduction in picture quality or clarity.

There were also a number of large or tightly bound items selected by the project. Although in theory these items were small enough to be captured by the flatbed scanner, risk of damage to the spines of the items made this method of capture unsuitable. Using a cradle under the mounted camera allowed these items to be fully supported, while the camera could be angled to capture the required image.










Bad Practice Good practice
Good practice for bound items.



Occasionally an item selected by FARNE would be faded or illegible in some way. This was particularly true of items that had been exposed to bright light or that had been photocopied. Although a traditional flat-bed scanner can scan at high resolutions and could help to enhance faded text to some degree, the mounted camera was usually preferred in these cases. Not only does the scanner back allow extremely high quality image capture, but the powerful lens and ability to alter exposure, shutter speed and focus, allows images to be enhanced to a far greater degree.







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FEATURED STORIES



Selecting a method of image capture
Selecting a method of image capture
Issues surrounding appropriate image capture for archival items

Carrying out image capture
Carrying out image capture
Methods of image capture.

Editing digital images
Editing digital images
Processes and practices involved in digital editing.

Image standards and formats
Image standards and formats
Creating master copies and web delivery files.


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Gateshead Central Library
Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, NE8 4LN
Tel: 0191 433 8430