Conservators have been using infrared, or IR, cameras to examine and document artwork since the late 1960s. "But these cameras can cost upwards of $100,000, so the number of paintings studied by this technique has been extremely limited," said UA optical sciences and physics Professor Charles M. Falco.
‘The technique is based on the fact that many common pigments are partially transparent to infrared light, making it possible to use appropriate infrared sensors to capture important information from surfaces that are covered by layers of paint," he said.
Early last year, Falco – an experimental physicist who has been interested in photography and in art since childhood – had an idea that he thought might work.
– of works of art.
Falco bought a one-generation-old Canon 30D camera on eBay.
Then he began visiting museums to photograph art.
In a little over a year, Falco has tested his system under a variety of conditions in a dozen museums on three continents, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the National Museum of Western Art in Toyko, Japan.The first paintings Falco studied were in the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Among these works is a painting titled "The Man of Sorrows with Saints and Donors." It was painted by an unknown French artist, probably sometime between the years
1525 and 1550."My camera let me discover something about that painting that nobody knew existed - that there are guide lines under the paint that the artist used to create the pedestal in perfect perspective," Falco said.
"These lines reveal that this Early Renaissance artist understood and based his drawing on the constructed laws of perspective."
Next, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Falco had the chance to test his camera on the same three paintings that conservators had recently analyzed using a $100,000 IR camera.
"They were thrilled because for one of the paintings, I captured essentially all the information the expensive camera did, and for the other two paintings, I captured between half and two-thirds of the information that the expensive camera did," Falco said.
Falco's converted camera, including its 35mm f/2 lens purchased for less than $250, cost about $2,000 total.
"So you can have at least half the information about these artworks that is revealed in the IR for $2,000, versus having no information at all because you can't afford the $100,000 camera," he said.
On his visit to Japan's National Museum of Western Art last December, Falco photographed about 100 artworks that interested him in less than two hours.
"I just walk up to a wall where the painting is on exhibit and take its picture. Even in subdued museum lighting, I can handhold the camera to get a good IR image at 1/30 of a second."
He added, "I probably now have more IR reflectograms in my computer than have been taken in total during the entirety of the last 40 years."
Editors of the "Review of Scientific Instruments" invited Falco to write a technical description of his high-resolution imaging instrument and published the paper as the cover story of their July 2009 issue. The paper, titled "High resolution digital camera for infrared reflectography" is published online.
Falco will give invited lectures on the camera and its applications at the University of Washington in January, at an international conference on digital image processing in Singapore in February and at the meeting of the American Physical Society in Portland, Ore., in March.
Falco's work is based on a collaboration with the artist David Hockney and on image analysis research funded by the Army Research Office.CONTACT:
Lori Stiles | University of Arizona
Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research