Saturday, April 09, 2005

The New Yorker: Capturing the Unicorn

A student pointed out this article to the class on the seven tapestries known as "The Hunt of the Unicorn" owned by the Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art) in New York City. The tapestries were removed from the Cloisters for a construction project. Since the backs of the tapestries had been exposed to very little light, the images on the back were bright and vibrant. A decision was made to make digital images of the backs. The article says:
To make a digital image of the Unicorn tapestries was one of the most difficult assignments that Bridgers had ever had. She [Barbara Bridgers] put together a team to do it, bringing in two consultants, Scott Geffert and Howard Goldstein, and two of the Met's photographers, Joseph Coscia, Jr., and Oi-Cheong Lee. They built a giant metal scaffolding inside the wet lab, and mounted on it a Leica digital camera, which looked down at the floor. The photographers were forbidden to touch the tapestries; Kathrin Colburn and her team laid each one down, underneath the scaffold, on a plastic sheet. Then the photographers began shooting. The camera had a narrow view; it could photograph only one three-by-three-foot section of tapestry at a time. The photographers took overlapping pictures, moving the camera on skateboard wheels on the scaffolding. Each photograph was a tile that would be used to make a complete, seamless mosaic of each tapestry.
This resultant files were so numerous and large, that an unforeseen problem occurred -- the files couldn't be merged together to create complete images! Read the article for the details.

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Thanks, Elizabeth, for pointing out this article.

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