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Photographing Artifacts – FSC project

Photographing Artifacts

Larry has volunteered to take photograph some of the important artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel site. In the early afternoon, he was taking pictures of important bottles for future research.  We caught him photographing a medicine bottle with the words “pain killer” and “vegetable”. Researchers will find a date and more details about the product.

You can do a quick search for “pain killer vegetable bottle” on Google and see what you find! Who knows, the artifact featured in this video could be Perry Davis’ vegetable pain killer…

Photography and archaeology:

Photography has been the principal medium for the recording of archaeological sites and artifacts since the middle of the nineteenth century. Photographing artifacts is a simple way to research and get answers about an artifact without having the artifact physically present and exposing it to possible dangers (such as falling off a desk!).

Tips for photographing artifacts:

  • Use a camera you are familiar with. You want to be able to get the entire artifact in focus. If your item is small, use a macro setting.
  • Use a neutral background: black, white, or grey  – depending on the colour of the artifact you are photographing
  • Use a scale in your image. This helps the researcher understand its size without a scale, it’s hard to tell if an artifact fits in your hand or is bigger than a toaster. For museums, the scale is placed near the frame of the photo without touching the artifact, so that it can be cropped out later on.
  • Try to fill the frame with your artifact.
  • Use indirect, natural light whenever possible. Flash from a camera is typically avoided as it can create a light burst in an image, hiding important details.
  • Use a tripod. Shaky hands can make an image blurry.
  • If you have photo editing software, use it to correct lighting and coloring errors, crop or resize photos if necessary.