Issues in Photography

Throughout my time in the Pacific Northwest Archaeology Lab I have engaged in several small projects.  I started working with ceramics and glass, and have switched my focus into working on the photography of belongings recovered through Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology. We do photography in the lab because it is important to create a digital record of the belongings we are analyzing. Artifact Photography allows for us to create a visual database that can assist our analysis, as well as enable others to access the belongings and learn from them.

The photo that I chose is of one of my favorite artifacts, it is a plastic bead excavated from the the Grand Ronde School privy.  This picture was the first time I had photographed a three dimensional object where the depth of field was not an issue.  I really appreciate the edges of the artifact in the photo.  Artifact Photography has a very common issue with depth of field.  There are a few very prominent issues in photography one of those being depth of field and another being light reflection when photographing objects such as glass.

Depth of field was the most prominent issue when I first began photography, it made it almost impossible to shoot artifacts fully in focus, as larger items often result in blurring of certain areas of the photo. To resolve this issue, I used Photoshop to merge a series of pictures so as to eliminate the blur.  Photoshop stacking is where you take a series of photos of the same artifact and stack them on top of each other, using the program to extract areas in focus in each image and form a new image, thus solving the issue of depth of field.

The other major issue that I noticed when shooting the artifacts was light reflection making it so that you cannot see the artifact very well.  This mostly occurred when I was shooting glass and made it so that the actual glass was very difficult to see in the picture because the light made the glass shine and impossible to see.  I am excited to see what new skills I will learn in photography; what new challenges will show up, and how I will resolve them next quarter in the Pacific Northwest Archaeology Lab.

By: Zach Stewart

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