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
A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes
20.07.2018 | Science China Press
Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers
20.07.2018 | Purdue University
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
23.07.2018 | Science Education
23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.07.2018 | Life Sciences