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The Watermark Initiative

"Watermarks" Discussion List Archive from Virginia Tech

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Digital Camera Facsimiles

Tomas Stohr made some comments in his last email note which we did not
respond to in our first reply, but which seem to us important points for us
all to consider. We refer to his comments B and C. we have responded to his
Comment B, on coded watermark descriptions, separately.

At  9:46 AM 11/25/97 -0800, Ing. Tomas Stohr wrote (COMMENT C):

>C) Digital Camara fascimile: I believe this is the future of
>reproduction of watrmarks for most researchers and students. This method
>should be included as a separate procedure and fully explained.

(Response by Bob Allison)

You are right, Tomas, to point out that in the Greek Watermarks Archive
informational pages that I have posted so far I do not include anything
about digital camera facsimiles. It is simply because I stopped in the
middle of that project when Jim and I took on the Roanoke Watermark
Initiative project (as we called it).Otherwise, I would surely have done
that by now.  I decided to cease work on that project until it became clear
>from the Roanoke project how I ought to develop the Greek Watermark
Archive.  I should put a notice to that effect on the home page of the
Greek Watermark Archive site, and I appreciate your bringing it to my

(continued response from Bob & Jim)

ABOUT DIGITAL CAMERA FACSIMILES: There is no doubt that those images are
impressive, but it seems to us that there are some serious problems with
this method, which I think we mentioned at the Roanoke Conference.  Namely,
that unless you are making an image from a perfectly flat piece of paper
and using equipment (some kind of camera stand) that guarantees that the
camera is set up perfectly at right angles to the paper, you will get
distortion in the image.  You can put a millimeter rule on the page for the
purpose of generating a reproduction that is the exact size -- but in fact,
you will reproduce only the rule itself at exact size, since you have not
been able to control for distortion.  Most of the work with the Greek
manuscripts is with paper in books and pamphlets, where you have to deal
with problems not only of the curve of the pages at the gutter, but also of
cockling.  While it might be possible to make some adjustments with a
digitized image, you can't get a facsimile that is guaranteed to match the
original.  The only way to do that that we know of is by a contact print.

For publication purposes, the best approach might be to make a contact
print with Dylux paper as a control, and a digital image for resolution and
clarity, then make the adjustments to the digital image using the Dylux
print as a control on problems of distortion. But that sounds like a very
labor intensive process, and one that you wouldn't want to tackle for very
many watermark facsimiles (as would be the case in establishing an on-line

Other comments, anyone?  Discussion of these kinds of issues is essential
if this is going to be a successful collaborative project.

Bob Allison             Jim Hart
<rallison@bates.edu>     <jhart@bates.edu>

Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion and
Chair, Classical & Medieval Studies
Bates College,
Lewiston, Maine, USA 04240

E-MAIL:         rallison@bates.edu
TEL:            (207) 786-6307
FAX:            (207) 786-6123

The Watermark Initiative was created by

Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, Bates College and

James Hart
Information Services, Bates College Lewiston, Maine, 04240