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Rock Art, how to photograph

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  #11  
Old 06-10-2010, 03:36 AM
Natasja Natasja is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

Thank you Kraellin! & Craig for programme suggestion, very much appreciated, I will try your advice on nearby easy accessible art, before going out for 'real', esp the polarising lens. Don't have a seperate flash yet, just a fixed one, but can adjust the strenght/bracket. Question about the reflector, what kind should it be, white, gold? Going to make my own folding one. Rock Art sometimes in caves (deep, low & dark) but mostly in relative open overhang. Lightning equipment, depends on amount of funding I can raise, for now it is surviving, going to work hard on technique and can't wait to go out, I'll keep you updated and once again THANK YOU! Natasja
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  #12  
Old 06-10-2010, 03:45 AM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

I live in Arizona in a part of the USA that is rich in native American petroglyphs/pictographs, but I've never tried photographing them.

One of the universities here offers classes and trips, it seems, to study such art, and I will give you some links to them in hopes that they will be able to help you. Now that I've read a bit of them, I think that you may already know about them - is that where you got the info you already have?

**Newest link** - Computer-Assisted Photographic Documentation of Rock Art (PDF) -link is to page - look towards the middle of the page for this title and click the link to read the pdf. Discusses use of Photoshop techniques to enhance images - use of LAB color space, etc.
Digital Enhancement techniques
This is a direct link to download a pdf by same man above with more specific info

Archeologist's Handbook - tips

Here are links from the university mentioned above -


Listserv - Netgroups links - Europe / Asia / S. America

Rock Art Discussion - ListServ for Arizona State Univ. rock art discussion groups

Summary of photo tips (relate more to film photography, but some general info)

Somewhat readable sections from above listserv -

items from above list - relating to photographic techniques (some answers are from the 1990's and reference links that no longer exist).

Search for "photography" list of discussions relating to photography of rock art

infrared - "... Infrared film does not produce results which separate the petroglyphs from rock surfaces. Where it may produce more useful results is on
pictographs which use organic pigments or binders. In order to use either IR or
UV photography with pictographs you need light sources which contain light in
these ranges of the spectrum. The open shade illuminating many pictographs
contains little IR light for example..."
infrared_2 - "...
infrared enhancement works particularly well in the case of petroglyphs, where the crystalline structure of the surface is fractured AND where the substrate rock is dark, e.g., basalt. This is due to the high contrast characteristics of infrared film, which can be obtained similarly by using Kodak Technical Pan film with a filter the same color as the pigment..."cross-polarized enhancement - info is old, but technique might be helpful if you can find the reference he lists. Maybe you can find him?

scientific photography - has some references you might check out

YouTube video from group

Alain Briot, photographer (seen on LuminousLandscape.com) has done a lot of study/photography of Native American rock art - here is a page from his website Beautiful-landscape.com

Spectral Selectivity by Ed Scott & Hollis Bewley

Rock Art photography - Oliver award - American Rock Art Research Association

As Craig suggested, a polarizer will be helpful in some conditions. Shoot in raw format, not jpeg. Lighting from the side will often help show the texture and emphasize the art. There was some question in the ListServ groups about whether using flash hurts the rock art - they may have found the answer to that question by now. Use of a reflector should be no problem. Photoshop or GIMP ( a free program with similar tools) would allow use of numerous techniques that will increase enhancement of whatever image your camera captures - you will need to learn both photographic and post-processing skills. This website can help you with practice, if you want.

Good luck - are you part of a group or on your own? Finding a group in a nearby university would probably be a big help for you.

Last edited by CJ Swartz; 06-10-2010 at 05:18 AM. Reason: added links
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  #13  
Old 06-10-2010, 04:48 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin View Post
i
now, if you're really feeling risky, take a bucket of water with you and if the art can stand it, wet the rock. this will most likely give you a lot better contrast between the rock and art. test this carefully first. you dont want to wipe out the art
THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!!!!!!

On federal land (BLM, Park Service etc) it is against the law to even touch the rock art let alone pour water over it. People are in prison for long periods of time for messing with this stuff and rightly so. Do you suppose that people do this kind of thing in the Sistine Chapel? To some folks the rock art is their version of the Sistine Chapel. Look, photograph, do not touch!
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  #14  
Old 06-11-2010, 09:17 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

hehe, i hadnt thought of that, mike. i'm sure you're right and i retract my earlier advice on this. i'd hardly compare rock art to sistine chapel art, but your point is taken.
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  #15  
Old 06-11-2010, 09:52 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin View Post
i'd hardly compare rock art to sistine chapel art, but your point is taken.
I would. Every culture at some point in time produces art that is of that quality, to them. But it is normal for other cultures to not appreciate the effort.

Here where I live (and rock art appears around every other corner) the question is , if some person could develop a paint that has lasted for several thousand years, why can't todays paint company's do that so we would not have to continuously repaint our houses?
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  #16  
Old 06-12-2010, 12:07 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

rofl. i love your point about house paints and you also make a good point about the time element and appreciation for when it was made. and really? there's a lot of rock art in Co.?
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  #17  
Old 06-12-2010, 11:27 AM
Mike Mike is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin View Post
rofl. i love your point about house paints and you also make a good point about the time element and appreciation for when it was made. and really? there's a lot of rock art in Co.?
Really there is a lot of rock art in CO! Maybe not as much as in UT, AR and NM, but still a fair amount.

http://www.rangely.com/CanyonPintado.htm This describes an area that is just north of us. Very interesting and most of it close to the road so on a hot summer day (maybe 100 or better!) one can enjoy then escape back into an air conditioned car.....

Then of course to the south is the Mesa Verde area that not only has rock art but all the big stone mansions that where built hundreds of years ago.

To the east of us is UT (about 30 mile to the boarder from my house) and they have more rock art than one can really comprehend.

I often stand in front of one of these things and think that maybe a thousand years ago a person stood there and created that. I wonder just what he was trying to tell me?
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  #18  
Old 06-13-2010, 02:54 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

fascinating. i knew arizona, new mexico and maybe utah had quite a bit, and then there's the cave paintings in france, but i wouldnt have thought Co. had much till you said something. i'm not far from mammoth cave here in kentucky and have been on several of their tours, but i dont ever recall seeing rock art there. odd, now that i think of it, since the caves were used by native americans.

thanks, mike.
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  #19  
Old 06-29-2010, 01:12 AM
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C0bweb C0bweb is offline
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Re: Rock Art, how to photograph

Hi Natasja,

I'm new to this site as well but decided to reply to your post since rock art is a part of my research. I agree with the other bloggers who say that you should never put water (or any other substance) on the rock art. Using flash photography and light disks are usually okay but it can vary from site to site so it's generally a good idea to ask first before you start using them (especially in the case of the flash). To learn more about site etiquette, various tours, and fieldschools, you can look at these two web sites: http://www.shumla.org and http://www.rockart.org/index.html .

The techniques you use to photograph the rock art will vary depending on the conditions at the site and also whether you are photographing pictographs or petroglyphs. Most of my experience comes from photographing pictographs, although some of these techniques may work as well with petroglyphs.

I have been using a UVIR camera to record rock art and have had very positive results. By using different filters and layering techniques I can often increase the visibility of figures that are otherwise difficult to see. Unfortunately UVIR equipment can be some what expensive and time consuming to process in post. I'm not sure what your background is with rock art but if you are just starting out with it then I would recommend starting with digital enhancement of images taken with an ordinary digital camera. There are several techniques that work well and are not as expensive.

The least expensive method (that I know of) is using a program called D-Stretch. It is a plugin for Image-J software. Both Image-J and D-Stretch are free and verrrry user friendly. They can be downloaded at http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/ or you can just Google Image-J and find it that way.

A second option is to post process using Adobe Photoshop. It is not as user friendly but will sometimes get better results (especially with grayscales). I use the Lab mode and adjust the levels to create a false color image or grayscale. If you are interested in reading more about how to do this you can look at the Rupestrian CyberService web site: http://www.rupestrian.com/ or read some of the publications written by Drs. Bob Mark and Evelyn Billo. They are the ones who taught me how to do enhancements with Photoshop.

Hope this helps!
Thanks
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  #20  
Old 07-04-2012, 04:56 PM
4N6site 4N6site is offline
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Arrow Re: Rock Art, [fixes broken link]

The mentioned color deconvolution plug-in is from 4N6site.com. Check out some examples here.
Previous posts contain outdated links, but the plug-in is available through 4N6site.com.
You can also contact the site if you want to be absolutely sure you get the maximum out of the plug-in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0lBaldy View Post
To enhance your primitive cave or rock art... You might try the Color Deconvolution Plug-in as I did here after doing a levels

I used the deconvolution in different layer modes and at various opacities then blended the final merge with the original

Good Luck !
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