Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Merging Images in Photoshop, Part One

One of the most common problems in digitization is how to deal with an image that is too big for your camera or scanner. The simplest solution is to photograph or scan the object in separate pieces, then merge those pieces together, however this can present its own set of problems to those unfamiliar with imaging software.

In this post I will be describing my own method for merging together images. There are many other ways to accomplish these tasks, and if you have a way that works for you, I encourage you to keep using it, but also be aware of its potential pitfalls. The main benefits of my own method are the ability to quality-check your work as you go, and make simple non-destructive edits that can be changed or reversed as needed. Also, for simplicity’s sake, I will be referring to my own Mac OS based workflow for menus and keyboard shortcuts.

Here is the whole image that we’re trying to assemble, and for whatever reason, it’s been captured in two side-by-side pieces in the standard .tiff format. It is crucially important, when capturing, to make sure there is overlap between the captures. This is going to help us check how well-aligned our merging is, so the more overlap the better.

Notice how each side is wider than half of the image

Now that we’ve got our two images, open both in Adobe Photoshop and choose whichever one you want to start working on. I usually go from left to right for simplicity’s sake, so here I will be starting on the left side of the image.

In Photoshop, select the Image drop-down file menu, and select “Canvas Size…” (or use the keyboard shortcut: option+command+C). Click on the canvas width field, and double it. In the “Anchor” field, select the leftmost column of the grid so that Photoshop knows where to put the empty space.

You should be left with an image like this:

It will end up a little wider than is necessary, but it’ll be easier to trim it down after the fact than to add more space. This will now become our “master” file. Do a “Save As” at this point and designate it as such.

Next, go to the second image that we are going to merge into the master (in this case, the right side image). The next step should be familiar to most computer users: select all of the image (command+A), and copy it to the clipboard (command+C). Then go back to the master file and use paste (command+V) to add it into the image.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll obviously notice that this new image is not in the correct position. However, by looking at the Layers panel on the right side of Photoshop you’ll see that the new image is on its own layer, resting on top of the background (if you do not see the Layers panel, select the “Window” drop-down menu and enable “Layers” there). Thus we can edit it without disturbing the original “bottom” layer.

Now, with the top layer selected, click on the “Opacity” field in the Layers panel and set it to 40%. This will make the top layer semi-transparent and allow us to line it up with the bottom layer.

Then, with the Move tool selected (V), begin moving the top layer around and trying to find where it lines up. Look for any solid shapes that are shared by both images, or where the borders intersect. Letterforms provide nice clear and easily-spottable shapes, which is why I have used them in this example, but it can be anything so long as it’s shared by both images.

We’re getting there, but it’s obviously still not right. At this point, find an area of overlap and zoom in closely. Then, with both the top layer and the move tool selected, simply “nudge” the top layer into place using the arrow keys. The arrow keys will only move the layer one pixel at a time, so obviously this is for the finest level of adjustments.


Nailed it!

Now for the final steps! In the layers panel, set the top layer’s opacity back to 100%. Then inspect the images along the borders, making sure that it looks seamless. While checking for quality be sure to zoom in and out.

At this point you can crop the image down to its original size, and it will be ready to go. However, one important piece to remember is that layered .tiffs, in addition to simply being larger files, are also not commonly supported by web or other software. What I like to do at this point is to save the “Master” file with both layers, and then create a new version for common use. The common use version will get flattened (Layer -> Flatten Image) then do a Save As in whatever format is required such as .jpeg or .pdf. This way, if any changes need to be made, we can always go back to the Master version.

And there you have it! A nice, seamless image. In the next post in this series, I will go into more detail for dealing with other problems, such as skew and mismatched backgrounds or details.

Written by Ryland Ianelli

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Road Trip to Geographies: New England Book Work, the New England Chapter of The Guild of Book Workers 2014-2015 Exhibition

On October 8th, 2014, Stephanie Wolff and I were invited to the University of Vermont to give a talk about the Geographies: New England Book Work exhibit and to share our techniques and approaches to our own work. The event was coordinated with the recent meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont at their annual meeting to view special collections material. Prudence Doherty, Public Services Librarian, was our host and very generously brought out many items from the Library’s collection which also related to the theme of New England.

Upon our arrival the exhibit space was nicely occupied by students, hopefully some of them had taken the time to consider some of the items in the cases!

Here is a 180 of the three cases displaying the work. It’s not often that exhibitors get to see what the shows look like as a whole and this one was especially well displayed, thanks to Stephanie Wolff and Linda Lembke.

The first part of the program Stephanie and I talked about the show and highlighted the various techniques and expressions of creativity that were reflected in the bindings. 

Prudence, opened up the cases so we were able to really show the books in more detail, taking turns to point out the special features of many of the bindings. The show displays a wonderful array of fine bindings as opposed to artist’s books so we had an exploratory dialogue on the nuances between those two factions of binding approaches. 

After our time at the exhibit we retreated downstairs to Special Collections where Stephanie and I talked about our work. I come from a more traditional approach where I will always select a text and create a binding that reflects the contents. Stephanie on the other hand will take great pains and process to create the whole entity of her work. She brought to share all of her “story boards” that illustrated her voyage from concept to finished product. As a look into an artist’s creativity this was a wonderful opportunity to really see how these wonderful bindings come to be.

After our talk we stayed a bit to look at the wonderful items that had been placed on the table and had a pleasant visit with many of the members. I thank Prudence and the Book Arts Guild of Vermont for this opportunity to come together.

For more information about the exhibition, check out the Guild of Book Worker’s New England Chapter website.

The exhibit will be at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT through December 12, 2014.

Written by Deborah Howe

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Space Oddity: Dartmouth Canes

The American Library Association annual conference concluded in early July and while at the conference I gave a presentation to the Book and Paper Interest Group of the Preservation and Reformatting Section of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services. The theme was "Space Oddity" and the presentation had to be given in an Ignite Talk style, in our case 15 slides at 20 seconds each for a total of 5 minutes.

What follows are the slides and my comments for each.

Canes of Dartmouth College

This storage solution for Dartmouth's collection of canes was created by North Bennet Street School summer interns, Becky Koch and Laren Schott, with oversight from Deborah Howe, the Collections Conservator.

The problem was how to store these wooden canes. The bulk of the collection were canes hand carved by Dartmouth students during their senior year. The most common embellishment of the cane head is what is know as the "Indian Head Cane".

Here Deborah and the interns are arranging the canes by size.

Prior to this treatment the canes were stored in a type of umbrella stand with open sides and very little protection. The canes were not stable and would slip and slide within the stand. The enclosure solution used both pre-made boxes and custom fit inserts. To begin, the canes were sorted by size. Most of the canes were a standard length. 

The canes were surfaced cleaned prior to rehousing them. To surface clean them our interns took dry and sometimes slightly moistened (with water) cotton swabs and wiped away soot and dust. No repairs were necessary. All of the canes were in generally good shape.

The housing solution consisted of adapting a pre-made box to hold an insert tray, and thus created two layers for storage: a bottom layer and the insert tray forming the second layer.

Pre-made box.
The pre-made box was purchased from Gaylord. It was made of polypropylene measuring 
38 inches x 24 inches, and about 6 inches deep.

Using heavy, natural cotton webbing, handles for the pre-made box were created and reinforded with Vyvek to help support the weight. The Vyvek is shown inside the box, where the cloth webbing is threaded through. Deborah suggests that in the next iteration of this box she would improve it by adding support stops for the insert tray to the pre-made box.

The insert tray was fabricated from 2 pieces of blue, acid free corrugated board. Adaptations were made because a single sheet was not large enough to build the walls up.


For the insert box special attention was also paid in building handles that could withstand the weight of the canes. To do this the cotton webbing was threaded through the bottom of the tray that had been reinforced with a layer of 40pt board for extra support.

In order to separate the canes from each other dividers were made from 10 point map folder stock. The folder stock was creased and folded to create a pocket. Each pocket was about 2 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Two pieces of folder stock were needed to create each divider layer.

To construct the dividers score lines were determined and a pattern was made from a strip of paper. These marks were transferred to the 10 point folder stock.

Both short edges of the 10 point were marked, then the pencil marks were lined up on the edge of the table. The 10 point was creased cross grain to maximize length and to improve rigidity in the walls of the dividers. Because of the length creasing on the board shear was not possible.

The dividers were placed on both the bottom layer and the insert tray. They were not attached in any way – although they could be if desired. Deborah suggests sliding in 40 point strips inside the divider walls to give additional support and rigidity.

With the dividers in place the canes were arranged on each layer and the insert tray placed on top. Each box can hold 16 canes: 2 layers of 8 canes each. When each box set was constructed it was bar coded and labeled with the archival series number.

Bottom layer with canes.

Insert layer in the box with divider and canes.

There were also canes of irregular size: longer than the rest or with heads that made it difficult to apply a standard approach. For these canes the divider was placed diagonally in the box and the canes arranged accordingly.

By the end of the project over 100 canes were cleaned and stored in 8 custom boxes for 24 linear feet, and shelved in the Special Collections remote storage facility. A finding aid for the cane collection now lists the canes by individual box number thus improving not only the storage but also making it easier to retrieve a single cane. By this single conservation treatment both storage and retrieval have been improved.

Thanks to Deborah Howe for collaborating with me to create this Ignite Talk and to Becky Koch and Lauren Schott who designed this storage solution.

Written by Barb Sagraves

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dartmouth Library Joins the National Digital Stewardship Alliance

We are very excited to announce that Dartmouth College Library has joined the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a consortium of organizations that are committed to the long-term preservation of digital information. The mission of the NDSA is to establish, maintain, and advance the capacity to preserve our nation's digital resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Members include universities, consortia, professional societies, commercial businesses, professional associations, and government agencies at the federal, state, and local level.

The NDSA is organized into 5 working groups: Content, Standards and Practices, Infrastructure, Innovation, and Outreach. Each group develops and executes a series of projects, which have included:

·         Developing the Levels of Preservation, a set of guidelines on tiered levels of digital preservation (Infrastructure WG)

·         Publishing a report on "Issues in the Appraisal and Selection of Geospatial Data"  (Content WG)

·         Creating Digital Preservation in a Box, a toolkit to support outreach activities that introduce the basic concepts of preserving digital information (Outreach WG)

·         Recognizing innovation in the community through the NDSA Innovation Awards (Innovation WG)

I am very excited to join the Standards and Practices Working Group, which works to "facilitate a community-wide understanding of the role and benefit of standards in digital preservation and how to use them effectively to ensure durable and usable collections." Projects undertaken by this group include a report on "The Benefits and Risks of the PDF/A-3 File Format for Archival Institutions" and a recent survey assessing stumbling blocks for video preservation.

Written by Jenny Mullins

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dartmouth at the Digital Directions 2014 Conference

Image from the blog PDXretro.com

This past July I had the great opportunity to attend the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Digital Directions 2014 conference. In a lucky turn, this year’s conference was held in Portland, Oregon, home of my alma mater, Reed College. In addition to reexperiencing the highlights of one of my favorite American cities, I was able to meet and engage with many people doing amazing work in digital collections across the country and beyond.

The conference covered a fascinating diversity of topics, from high-level project management and planning to specific examples of workflows and equipment setups. One of the first things impressed upon me was the fascinating diversity of digitization efforts occurring across the world. As the demand for digital content continues to expand, many institutions are rushing to fill that need. Because of this, it can often seem that no two institutions’ digital programs are the same, or even particularly similar.

To its credit, the Digital Directions did a phenomenal job accounting for these various setups. The three days were jam-packed with a fascinating variety of discussion topics and presentations. The first day consisted of mostly big-picture type talks. We discussed the interplay between digital preservation (maintenance of access to digital content) and digital curation (adding value to digital content), as well as how to craft each institution’s best practices and standards according to their needs. The day was wrapped up with an impressively no-nonsense discussion about rights and responsibilities from a legal perspective by Peter Hirtle, followed by a lovely meet-and-greet at the Portland Art Museum.

The following days covered a wide variety of topics, including a fascinating section about audio and video digitization (an area unfortunately outside my range of experience). However, it soon became apparent that the challenges faced by those audio and video digitization teams were remarkably similar to my own in the world of object and document reproduction. Many digitization projects face the same fundamental roadblocks: time, equipment, resources, access, and storage.
Image from NEDCC's twitter account

While the specifics varied, these fundamental issues could not help but make themselves apparent. The relative merits of, say, cloud storage (to pick a random example), can be endlessly debated among digital librarians, and indeed I’d doubt there ever will be a definitive final-word on this topic. But the crucial takeaway must be a willingness to engage with these issues, understanding the risks and drawbacks inherent in each option so that they can be minimized, or at the very least understood fully so that we may deal with them more effectively in the future. Among the many useful things I learned at Digital Directions 2014, perhaps the most important one was that my own peers are an incredible resource, both within Dartmouth and world-wide. By learning through their experiences and sharing my own, I hope to do my part to keep the Dartmouth Library’s Digital Collection growing and improving well into the future.

Written by Ryland Ianelli

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

100-ish Days of Digital Preservation

Hello, there. It's been a little over 100 days since I started as Dartmouth College Library's first Digital Preservation Librarian. I've been working closely with staff in many departments to define my role and work out how best to ensure long term access to the Library's digital content. Here are some of the things that I've been up to:

  • Maxed out our master file server space.
  • Learned about awesome projects and connected with colleagues at Digital Preservation 2014.
  • Made some head-way into assessing our e-resource preservation strategies.
  • Used BagIt to package 45,000 files totaling 2413 GB for long-term storage (see above re: maxing out server space).
  • Started digging into PREMIS .
  • Learned to harness the power of Twitter for professional research #digipres .
  • Started brainstorming strategies for preserving analog and born-digital a/v content.
  • Dipped my toes into web and database preservation in response to a faculty inquiry.
  • Got really excited about sustainability and digital humanities projects.
Digital Preservation Brainstorming!

 I’m looking forward to my role in the Library continuing to evolve and grow over time. As these and other projects develop, I will tell you all about them here. Stay tuned for the next 100-ish days of Digital Preservation!

Written by Jennifer Mullins

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kress Conservation Fellow Tessa Gadomski arrives!

In August we announced that we were recipients of a Kress Conservation Fellow grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. grant.

On September 8th, Tessa Gadomski, started her Fellowship. Tessa, recently graduated with a Master of Science in Art Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, with a major in Library and Archives Materials. Along with this degree, she has also completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in Preservation from Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Delaware receiving Honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Conservation, her second major was Art History with a minor in Chemistry.

Tessa has worked are the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Weissman Preservation Center of Harvard and Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services in Kansas City Missouri which specializes in restoration of works of art on paper and photographs.
One of her intern appointments was at University of Delaware, working on Russian Icons. She created a reproduction of a Russian icon using traditional materials and techniques, and then participated in conserving a Russian icon from the University of Delaware Museum’s Collection.

While here at Dartmouth Tessa’s focus will be to address and perform conservation needs of Rauner’s Iconography collection. This collection within Special Collections has over 1,300 cataloged items that include printed images, glass slides, original art on paper and other media, photographs, albums and digital files. A particularly significant subcategory of the collection is focused on the history of Polar exploration.

Tessa is well prepared for such a project with her broad background and wide experience, not only will we be able to advance the work needed on this collection but we will be able to learn from Tessa and glean new techniques and ideas she can share from her conservation experience.

Tessa is original from Albany, New York, so she is very happy to be back in the northeast closer to her family.  Welcome Tessa!

Written by Deborah Howe