Author Topic: High tech photos of impossible to read gravestones  (Read 2424 times)

Offline londonscorpion

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High tech photos of impossible to read gravestones
« on: Wednesday 13 May 15 16:12 BST (UK) »
I am sure everybody has come across the problem of deciphering with the naked eye, let alone from a photograph, the inscription on a very old headstone: the stone can be weathered to nothing or completely covered with lichens. Even worse is where the stone has leaned to such an extent that (a) it is impossible to get into a good position to read and (b) very difficult to know exactly how to photograph it. Any consideration of cleaning the headstone is out of the question as many graveyards are classified as living! So what to do?

My thoughts are that there must be a technology out there that could overcome these problems. How about some kind of Xray photography that would make it possible to read the internal fractures caused by the mason's hammer.

Can any one point me in the right direction to further investigate this possibility.
Clark, Clarke, Batchelor, Diamond, Ruddick,
Yorkshire: Oaks, Denton, Sykes

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Offline rayard

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Re: High tech photos of impossible to read gravestones
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 13 May 15 16:34 BST (UK) »
I read recently that if you very gently put some baking foil over the gravestone and again, gently, rub lightly with a soft sponge, the lettering becomes easier to read. I'm not sure that this is a good idea, I don't like interfering with them for fear of damage, there are conservation rules too.
 I usually dampen them carefully.
I'm sorry I don't know about the high-tech photography, I just thought this might help.
rayard.

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Offline Cancan

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Re: High tech photos of impossible to read gravestones
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 16 June 15 13:44 BST (UK) »
Hi,

We have a project on going of transcribing inscription of gravestones.
And we have really had some weathered and disintegrated ones which have been nigh impossible to read or decipher.

We have used water but our best result has been with the good old chalk!
We get different results by using the different coloured chalks and pressing the chalk into the lettering. 
White generally isn't good, but the deep pink, blue and green have had a lot better results. 

Might be wroth a try if you haven't already used it. :-\

As for the positions to get into to get the inscription, I think we've had a go at nearly all too!
We now just stick our hand with camera under take lots of photo's and then piece them together to get what we can.

Best of Luck!

The Manchester General Cemetery Transcription Project, Bookmark our website to see updates and information also. http://mgctp.moonfruit.com

Offline londonscorpion

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Re: High tech photos of impossible to read gravestones
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 16 June 15 15:00 BST (UK) »
Thanks for all your suggestions and help.

In the meantime has anyone heard of Reflectance Transformation Imaging. I read about this at the Cultural Heritage Imaging website at: http://culturalheritageimaging.org/Technologies.

Complex but worth a read - might still need to clean the stones though.
Clark, Clarke, Batchelor, Diamond, Ruddick,
Yorkshire: Oaks, Denton, Sykes