If you come to our digitization lab you might be surprised to find, somewhat prominently featured, the puzzle table.
The jigsaw puzzle is a staple in our office, communally worked on during periods of time when computers are rebooting, large batches of files are transferring or when we just need a short break to clear our heads. I find I do some of my best creative problem solving while taking a puzzle break.
The puzzle has a more practical application too. We need to continue to hone our skills figuring out how all the pieces fit together, because occasionally we have to take something like this…
And turn it into this…
Letter fragments from the Wade Hall Collection of Civil War Soldier Letters, UK Special Collections. (currently undergoing digitization.)
In the 1800s, one couldn’t just run down to the copy shop to have letters duplicated. There were letter presses, but there were also “letter books,” full of parchment copying paper. Some of these books could copy about 1,000 letters. The examples below are from the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation Papers, UK Special Collections.
Recently, the imaging staff had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on demonstration of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) with assistant professor William Endres from UK’s College of Arts and Sciences Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies.
RTI, an emerging technique in the area of cultural heritage imaging, is a method where an artifact is captured in a series of digital photographs. While the camera position remains the same for all of the images, the light source is moved around the object. Ideally 30 to 60 images are taken, each one with a different angle of illumination.
Specialized software then compiles the images into a single dynamically rendered image. The RTI software allows the viewer to interact with digital rendering by virtually re-positioning the light source within the interface to see the image created from the corresponding light position.
This gives the viewer a greater sense of contour of the surface of the subject and enhances surface detail.
RTI also allows for mathematically derived specular enhancement to reveal surface detail that may not be seen under normal observation of the artifact.
Professor Endres has recently been awarded a grant to digitize the St. Chad Gospels, housed at the Lichfield Cathedral in England using RTI. You can learn more about his project and RTI here.