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Subject: Storing digital images

Storing digital images

From: Robert K. MacDowell <macdowell_r>
Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Paulina Lobaton <paulina.lobaton [at] ashmus__ox__ac__uk> writes

>The Conservation Department at the Ashmolean Museum has recently
>started taking digital images to record the treatment process of
>objects instead of the traditional slide film. We would very much
>like to hear how other conservation departments store their images
>in their computer files. If it is done by accession number, by the
>department to which the object belongs to, etc. What are the storage
>methods you find useful and drawbacks. Any experiences and
>suggestions are very much welcome.

We do a fair bit of this sort of file management, and the techniques
we find useful are all based on the Microsoft Windows scheme of
"Folders". (We have no experience with other operating systems, but
would imagine they all share these features in some way).

In Windows, we begin with "My Documents", which is a folder in
itself, and inside of this we right-click to get a dialog that
offers options such as "New", and following the arrow to the left or
right, find "Folder"  or "Text Document".

In your case, why not create a folder named "Conservation Projects".
Then, you can create folders within this one, so create a few more
folders such as "To Be Processed", "In Progress" and "Finished".

Let's imagine you have a piece of Chinese Export porcelain in the
form of an armorial bowl. Create a folder in the "to Be Processed"
folder named "Armorial Bowl". Inside this folder, you then collect
all of your digital images, which will likely be files with the
extension .jpg or .tif. You can rename these files if you like by
clicking on them and hitting F2 on your keyboard. Also, in this
folder, we would create a "Text Document" with a file extension .txt
(or a Microsoft Word document with extension .doc), and name this
document "Armorial Bowl.txt" (or .doc).

Once all of this is organized, you can leave the bowl information
where it is until you begin to work on it, at which time you can
drag the entire "Armorial Bowl" folder into the "In Progress"
folder. When the project is finished, it is then dragged to the
"Finished" folder. Wherever the "Armorial Bowl" folder is, you keep
notes on the project in the text or Word document you have created
in that folder.

Assuming you have the "Status Bar" enabled in Windows Explorer, some
of the information pertaining to files will appear there when files
are clicked; you can also annotate individual files by
right-clicking on them and opening up the "Properties" dialog, which
offers you the opportunity to add more commentary and store it with
the actual file.

Caution: If you use the "Properties" feature, you may lose this
information if you change operating systems--we learned this very
painfully when our Windows 2000 system melted down and we built a
new Windows XP system. All of the "Properties" info we had kept with
the image files was unreadable in XP--so we had to build another
Windows 2000 system to manually read and copy all of this info to
the new XP system.

Another item that's worth noting is this. I think all digital
cameras annotate the image files they create with a file set called
EXIF, and if you have an image editing software item like Adobe
Photoshop, this info may all be readable inside that application.
Depending on the camera, EXIF info includes time and date of the
exposure, some data on the camera, exposure, shutter speed, Exposure
Value (EV) and whether or not flash was used. (Don't forget to set
the camera's date, time and clock and try to think about it when
Daylight Savings Time comes up and goes away ;->)

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway--please BACK UP
whatever you do on an external drive, a CD or a DVD in case the
system you are working with does what our Windows 2000 system did.
We didn't lose anything, but we suffered mightily with the
"Properties" issue. Hope this is of some help to you,

Robert K. MacDowell
MacDowell Restorations
39845 The Narrows Road
Waterford, Virginia 20197
540-882-9000


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:33
                Distributed: Wednesday, December 5, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-21-33-008
                                  ***
Received on Saturday, 24 November, 2007

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