Today’s blog post comes from one of our Emerging Professionals Scholarship recipients, Steph Guidera! She attended the MSI Workshop on the Friday of the Annual Symposium and has this review:
The first day of the MRCG Annual Symposium offered an early bird perk of a fascinating workshop. In this workshop, one could adopt super powers to see past the normal spectra. Super powers?! Quite worth the 3am wake up call this required for me, flying from Minneapolis. Now, just a tinge of information on your author. I am a pre-program intern at the Midwest Art Conservation Center (MACC). I was lucky enough to win a scholarship (there were 3 of us who attended thanks to this generous program) to meet, greet, assist, photograph, and, most importantly, learn. So, as a conservation-information-brain-sponge, I was thrilled to be a part of the workshop on Multispectral Imaging (MSI). Once there I learned I wasn’t the super hero…these cameras and filters are!
A group of approximately 12 of us were walked through the necessary steps, equipment and analysis of MSI. Going through the process in small groups, we were able to see, up close, the effects that different filters and light spectra have on objects. We sat with UofM’s own Carrie Roberts who showed us the typical (i.e. most cost effective for small, non-profit institutions) set-up of a modified DSLR with applicable lenses and lights. She brought us through the following filter processes: ultraviolet (producing UV reflected images and UV-induced luminescence images), visible (visible reflected images and visible-induced infrared luminescence) and infrared (infrared reflected images or IRR). These processes can be helpful when identifying coatings, detecting specific pigments and organic binders and revealing layers beneath the surface, to name a few. Depending on the fluorescence of the material under specific spectra, discoveries and conclusions can be made. Through the analysis side with Aaron Burgess, we were able to see how Adobe Lightroom’s filtering capabilities allow conservators to see their objects in a new light (dad joke, sorry). One can, through use of reference sets and a trained set of eyeballs, interpret the different fluorescences, highlights and other marks to identify specific stages of the piece. Aaron Steele, imaging specialist, taught us about different sophisticated camera equipment and the pros and cons of each kind. As I mentioned, many labs/facilities use modified DSLRs, but if the need to upgrade exists, a Goodrich or OSIRIS model may be well worth the investment. Both of these cameras, Aaron said, are wonderful pieces of equipment that capture such quality images that the DSLR cannot dream of. These advanced cameras will take very high resolution images of magnified parts of a piece, then create a whole image, through software. Stitching hundreds of small images together to get one very high resolution photo is something I would’ve thought madness! But through this, we’re able to have evenly lit, crisp photographs of work for preservation and recording purposes.