Large format photography calls for a particularly high level of technical and creative skills. It requires are in depth expert knowledge in order to exploit the possibilities to the full extent.
That is the only way to produce exceptional high detail images, which can be further disseminated to acquire knowledge from any kind of interest fields. Large Format Photography can be used in all types of environments for a wide range of materials. In our case, its applicability in unwrapping cylindrical surfaces from ancient cylinder seals produced enormous detail providing us with high-resolution panoramic images up to 8,000 x 65,000 pixel resolution. That is the largest digital panoramic images currently available with a wide color gamut and an outstanding dynamic range output.
Our custom-build unit consists of a Sinar mechanical large format camera kit with base rails, lenses specialized in large format photography, better light digital 4”x5” scanner back that can create panoramic, rollout, QVTR images and an electrical precision motor base. The digital scanning back captures pure Red, Green and Blue information for each pixel in resolution settings up to 8000 pixels in height. The resulting images can be well over 1GB and provide amazing detail and tone range that could never be captured with film or DSLR cameras. The tri-linear sensor on board is not capturing an image of the subject in front of the camera all at once as any normal camera does, but rather by physically moving a unique, highly-optimized tri-linear color image sensor smoothly across the image plane, building up the image one line per color at a time. The sensor is a patent of Eastman KODAK the world leaders in photographic mediums and equipment.
This Large Format unit at the Cyprus Institute is being customize for the needs of Cultural Heritage requirements in collaboration with the University of Southern California and is fully flexible for add-ons so to fit the criteria of any case study (e.g art reproduction, conservation/restoration, spectral imaging and archiving).
In the past, seeing the entire scene of a cylinder seal could only be done by examining an impression of the seal on clay. This would show the carved design in its basic elements, but left much data undocumented. The artisans who carved the seal designs often made use of the characteristics of the stone when creating their works. This aspect of their work and their related choices can only be seen by looking at the actual surface of the seal, not the impression.
The presence of the custom-built LF camera at CyI will allow the Center to become a leader in the photography of this key class of artefact. There are currently some 2000 cylinder seals known from Cyprus, about half of them in Cypriot museums. From the Middle East, some 30,000 seals are known, primarily from Iraq, Iran and Syria. There has been little attempt to work on large-scale studies of the seals since photography has been problematic in the past. The successful work on the seals during the first pilot project should act as the invitation to developing a larger project on this subject.