Thursday 14 March 2013

Digital Imaging for our Virtual Museum

Thanks to support from the Department of Culture and the Arts we recently developed six new exhibits for the Virtual Museum on our website. A lot of people have commented about how great the images look and wondered about our photographic process. It wasn't really very complicated! Most objects were photographed in a white box that was open at the top and one side. This box had been custom-made for this purpose.

Objects were placed in the box and we took many photos of each object. Even if a photo looks great it is worth taking another identical shot and more from different angles or sides. You can't always foresee which one will end up being the most suitable. We tried to be creative with the angles and perspectives we took the photos from. A perfectly composed front-on photo isn't necessarily the best.

Our room had overhead diffused fluorescent lighting, which was sufficient. We did get some minor shadowing due to the location of the box and lighting, but we felt a little shadowing kept things looking real. Photoshop Elements was used to adjust brightness, contrast, colouring and to remove the background. Having a simple and consistent background, such as that of the white box, ensures this task isn't harder than it needs to be. On a few occasions we lined the box with red or green cloth so it was a more contrasting colour.

The photos were taken with two different 2010 model cameras - one reasonably inexpensive and the other quite pricey! They were a 14.1 megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 and an 18 megapixel Canon EOS 60D. Both produced great images for our purposes. The auto-focusing of the Canon was superb as it refuses to take the photo if it can't focus!

The overlooked advantage of undertaking this work is the potential re-uses it provides. We now have great digital images of many objects which can be added to their documentation, used with promotions and marketing, in publications, with educational resources, here on our blog, on social media and basically... anywhere!

Want to know more about the doll? Take a look at our virtual exhibit on Toys.


Gould Genealogy said...

That's way cool!! Keep up the awesome work.

Linda said...

Very nice - reposting!

Linda said...

Just out of curiosity - do you ever photoshop out the junction lines, or just leave them in?

Andrew Bowman-Bright said...

Hi Linda, do you mean the junction lines of the box? We remove the background entirely so none of the box is there any more. It is then the object on a transparent or pure white background.

Linda said...

Thank you for that - should have read the post slowly! Have just bought a light tent/box, with lights, and need to do more work with that - not looking as good as this. Or as cheap.

Andrew Bowman-Bright said...

Another even cheaper alternative is to photograph items against a clean white wall. The aim for us was to get a very simple consistent background that could then be easily edited out. It also assists in getting a better photo as the camera has nothing else to focus on except the object. Fun times!