UCI’s Special Collections & Archives holds a wealth of 3-dimensional artifacts, but unlike paper, you cannot just scan an artifact and send it across the world to a remote scholar. What we needed was a way to share our 3-dimensional treasures with those who could not physically come to visit us. Since we are not able to send our artifacts to remote patrons, a photo studio along with a professional camera, was the next best solution.
Building a studio when you’re working with limited space comes with some challenges. We needed a dedicated place with no foot traffic and no windows. Most importantly, we did not want to take up any valuable real estate in our stacks; we need as much space for our collections as possible! A storage closet ended up providing the perfect solution.
Each photo studio requires unique pieces of gear for its particular situation. One challenge that we faced was the width of the room. The closet is narrow, which causes a lot of shadows from the wall to be cast on the object. Another challenge was finding the exact shade of paint for the walls so they would not reflect light, which would in turn affect the true colors of the photographed object. We brought all our challenges to a professional photographer, who easily solved all our problems and helped us order the best equipment for our needs.
Earlier this week the Archives team, along with our indispensable student workers, have been hard at work setting up our brand new photography studio. Our studio is complete with a digital SLR camera, museum-quality lighting, and object stands for the purpose of photographing artists’ books and other visual, 3-dimensional objects.
We are now at the testing phase, this includes moving around the softbox lights (to eliminate shadows that tend to obscure the tiny details in the items), moving the backdrops up and down, and playing around with different settings on our fancy, new camera.
It’s been so much fun getting everyone involved to be part of this process that I’d hardly consider calling it work. So please, stay tuned for the exciting result of our much anticipated endeavor!