Digitizing Historical Documents by Macroscopic Solutions

Macroscopic Solutions, LLC (founded in 2013) is a small business located in Tolland, CT specializing in the development of high clarity imaging and 3D modeling techniques using innovative processes known as focus stacking, panoramic photo merging and photogrammetry.  Development of these techniques has led to the production of novel imaging technologies designed to accommodate a variety of scientific, historical and archeological materials.  The company offers products and services to researchers and principal investigators in academia, government and industry.

Technology

Macroscopic Solutions has developed the Macropod products, which are non-invasive, high-resolution imaging systems utilizing a DSLR Camera body, lens, speedlight flash and motion control system.  The key innovation and differentiator is that these systems are specifically designed to overcome depth of field limitations by producing consistently clear results completely in focus using motion control.

The technology (fig. 1) combines panning and focus stacking capabilities, which are manually controlled by the photographer. These capabilities work in unison to provide superior performance for alignment, positioning, vibrational dampening and lighting.

Materials are manually positioned on an angled platform called a cradle, which extends away from the imaging apparatus to protect against operator errors.  The platform is wrapped in static-free foam.  Plastic and foam wedges are used for additional support.

The Macropod technology is described as a non-invasive and non-destructive method for imaging materials certified by the physiological section of the Botanical Society of America and Yale University.

Macroscopic Solutions strongly encourages the use of focus stacking as these methods produce substantially better results than single shot exposures; however, single shot exposures will be captured if preferred by the client. Digital quality of both focus stacking and single shot exposures will match or exceed 4-star FADGI requirements.

Figure 1. Document Imaging Station

Cameras

The DSLR camera bodies to be used are either a Canon 6D (21 megapixels) or 5DSR (51 megapixels). For all task orders, unless otherwise directed, the 6D will be used.  The quality of the 6D exceeds the FADGI 4-star rating requirements and keeps file size to a manageable standard.

Lenses

The lenses to be used are either a Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM or 24-105mm USM f4.0.  These lenses are used because they provide the optimal field of view at working distances of 15-200 cm.  These lenses can accommodate materials ranging in length, width and depth while complying with FADGI requirements.

Motion Control

The motion control used to digitize cultural heritage materials is designed to 1) panoramically align the camera system and 2) perform focus stacking.  Panoramically aligning the camera system instead of aligning the materials being imaged significantly reduces handling time by the operator.  Focus stacking enables the operator to capture completely clear imagery that is in focus without the need to introduce noise generated by closing the aperture and increasing the ISO.

Lighting

The speed light flash is a Macro MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite designed to illuminate subjects for no more than 1/200 of a second from a safe distance.  This provides maximum exposure with little to no temperature increase.  Furthermore, the flash is used in conjunction with Macroscopic Solutions turtledove diffusers, which deflect and soften light from the source twice before reaching the subject.  These diffusers eliminate glare without the use of color altering filters such as polarizers, UV filters, etc. (fig. 2).

Figure 2. Light Diffusion

Focus Stacking

The focus stacking software (Zerene Stacker) is used to render depth of field.  It collects data from multiple focal planes to generate an improved depth-of-field and substantial resolution gain (fig. 3).  Color, proportion, dimensions, etc. are unaffected using this software as described in numerous scientific articles and publications (sources provided upon request).

Figure 3. Demonstrating improved clarity using focus stacking techniques.

 

Figure 4. Digital Imaging Apparatus

Workflow

Image Capture

Imaging is performed utilizing the Macroscopic Solutions motion control technology described in Volume I, Section 1.B (fig. 4).  This technology creates a non-destructive, low-light photographic environment designed to capture detailed images of materials with no depth-of-field restrictions.

Camera settings to be used:

  1. ISO ~100-500
  2. Exposure 1/180
  3. Flash 1/16-1/64th output power
  4. Aperture f 4.0

Images are captured according to the star rating choice specified in each individual Task Order; otherwise, as per the 3 or 4-star rating outlined by object type in the FADGI.

Materials are placed upon the cradle and photographed in sequence, from back to front, using the camera settings provided.  A minimum of 15 images will be captured for each page to gather depth of field information.

The 15 individual focal planes are combined using Zerene Stacker, which generates a sharp, final output image of each page.

Use/Access Images Saved As:

  1. JPEG file: 72 dpi JPEG files at 2400 (in width) pixels with an appropriate corresponding length. ~4.5 MB per page.

Archival Master Images Saved As:

  1. TIFF file: 400 dpi TIFF files at 3648 (in width) pixels with an appropriate corresponding length. ~11 MB per page.
  2. JPEG 2000: JPEG 2000 file: 400 dpi TIFF files at 3648 (in width) pixels with an appropriate corresponding length. ~11 MB per page.
  3. PDF/A: Booklet: 400 dpi files at 3648 (in width) pixels with an appropriate corresponding length. ~11 MB per page.

File compression is not performed under any circumstances unless approved in writing by the COR (Request for Proposals Number P17PS00938 C-1).

Metadata

Technical metadata requested per individual task order will be embedded in each image.

Filenaming

Bound Materials

parkacronym_catalog#_page#.filetype

Single Sheet Materials

parkacronym_catalog#_”f” or “b”.filetype f = front b = back

Labeling

Labeling of all materials (hard drives, DVD’s, CD’s, boxes, etc.) will include the park acronym, catalog number(s) and other identifying numbers provided by the NPS.  Additional labeling is necessary only when specified in the Task Order.

Housing/Rehousing

All objects, unless otherwise instructed, are handled by trained professionals with dry, clean, bare hands.

Ledgers will remain in the original archival box until they are ready to be digitized.  After digitization occurs, ledgers are returned to the original archival box to be stored until review and return shipment.  Storage cabinet environments are consistent with NPSMH – Part I, Chapter 7.

Handling of ledgers will be conducted by our primary associate photographer and technician (Volume II).  All handling procedures are in accordance with NPSMH – Part II, Chapter 6 and Appendix J: Curatorial Care of Paper Objects.

Where problems occur outside of our technicians’ expertise, Macroscopic Solutions is to consult the COR.  If problems requiring immediate attention occur and the COR is unavailable, the head of Department of History at the University of Connecticut, Dodd Center is offering to provide consultation when necessary (Volume II).

Quality Control 

Requirements for post processing will be consistent with directions shown on individual task orders.  All post-processing will meet 3–4 star FADGI requirements.

Post-processing is available if requested.

The software tool JHOVE will be used to validate files and reports will accompany all deliverables.

The Project Manager and Senior Photographer will inspect all images for defects, errors, etc.

Work Area

Macroscopic Solutions, LLC is in building 1 of Nerac Inc. facilities located at One Technology Dr. Tolland CT 06084.  For full transparency, the NPS is welcome to visit and tour our facilities before, during and after review of proposal P17PS00938.

HVAC

The entire building is outfitted with a climate controlled HVAC system to regulate humidity and temperature.  Originally designed to protect and preserve computer servers, this system regulates humidity between 40-60% and internal temperature between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Electronic Security

The building is wired with an alarm and user entry security system.  Every individual is granted access via key card to be swiped at 1 of 2 primary entrances.  Employees are granted access to the building between 6AM-8PM Monday thru Friday.  Company representatives are granted access 24/7 and have the right to permit/restrict employee access. Macroscopic Solutions’ entire workforce is granted access 24/7.  Visitors are granted entry by a lobby clerk and must check in before entering the office spaces.

Macroscopic Solutions owns and maintains internet cameras with standard surveillance/recording capabilities.

Fire Detection

The facility is equipped with a fire alert system, which sends alerts directly to Tolland Fire & Rescue located less than 1 mile north on Rt. 195.  Fire crews appear on site within 3 minutes of any drill or triggering of the alarm.  Both buildings are made from fire retardant materials and do not have sprinkler systems in place. 

Storage

NPS materials will remain in original archival boxes until they are ready to be digitized.  After digitization occurs, ledgers are returned to the original archival box to be stored until review and return shipment.  Storage cabinet environments are consistent with NPSMH – Part I, Chapter 7.

Samples of Work

Samples of work presented in this section are generated by Mark Smith, Nicole Breault and Chad Fagan who comprise the management team of Volume II.

Signed non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements prevents Macroscopic Solutions from sharing imagery generated for clients and copies of these contracts are available upon request.  An alternative solution to fulfilling the requirements of this section was to have the management team prepare sample images based on loose pages and bound materials provided by the Geosciences department at the University of Connecticut.  Metadata shows the date of digitization is within the last 3 years.

Sample Group 1: Archival Master Files

Description: Bound volume of Elements of Geology by Le Conte, pages 130-134 and unbound documents of Dr. Anthony Philpotts (emeritus at Yale University) collective notes, 5 pages.

Object Media Types: TIFF 16 Bit, JPEG 2000 and PDF/A saved as 400dpi with

Information about camera or scanner used: Macropod Pro Document Digitization System

Year of Completion: 2017

Involvement of the Key Personnel represented in sample:  Digitized by Mark Smith, Chad Fagan and Nicole Breault

Sample Group 2: Use/Access Files – Single Sheet Objects

Description: Unbound documents of Dr. Anthony Philpotts (emeritus at Yale University) collective notes, 10 pages.

Object Media Types: JPEG files saved as 72 dpi, 2400 pixels in width as requested

Information about camera or scanner used: Macropod Pro Document Digitization System

Year of Completion: 2017

Involvement of the Key Personnel represented in sample:  Digitized by Mark Smith, Chad Fagan and Nicole Breault

Sample Group 3: Use/Access Files – Bound Materials

Description: Bound volume of Elements of Geology by Le Conte, pages 130-149

Object Media Types: Bundled PDF/A file saved as 72 dpi, 2400 pixels in width

Information about camera or scanner used: Macropod Pro Document Digitization System

Year of Completion: 2017

Involvement of the Key Personnel represented in sample:  Digitized by Mark Smith, Chad Fagan and Nicole Breault

Reference 1

Starkwhite

Primary Contact: Chantelle Smith

Title: Associate Director

510 Karangahape Road

Auckland, New Zealand

chantelle@starkwhite.co.nz

+64212473000

Secondary Contact: Dr. Fiona Pardington,

Title: Chevalier de l’Ordre Française des Arts et des Lettres

PO Box 155229, Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141, Aotearoa/New Zealand

chantelle@starkwhite.co.nz

+6421398666

Terms of Engagement:

Between:
Mark Smith of Macroscopic Solutions and Dr. Fiona Pardington

Mark Smith/Macroscopic Solutions will be employed by Fiona Pardington to complete the following work on her upcoming project with the working title Nabokov Blues.

To document Nabokov species as directed by Dr. Fiona Pardington using Macroscopic Solutions technology at the following locations:

Musée Cantonal de Zoologie, Lausanne;

Cornell University Insect Collection, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY;

The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, NY.

Fiona Pardington will own all copyright of the artworks created during this period of employment.

Restrictions around the use of images is as follows:
All works created during this time must be authorized before use.
In no circumstance can Macroscopic Solutions use the artworks for business promotion.
No social media can be posted using this body of work.
Correct titles and credits must accompany the artworks at all times.
All files created during this time will be transferred to Dr. Fiona Pardington on a hard drive supplied.
Macroscopic solutions has no rights to the images created for Dr. Fiona Pardington.

Mark Smith/Macroscopic Solutions will accompany Fiona Pardington on the itinerary prepared.

Auckland to Geneva; Geneva to Ithaca; Ithaca to New York

Mark Smith/Macroscopic Solutions has committed to this project with time allocated in August 2016. In recognition that Mark Smith/Macroscopic Solutions is the reason this body of work was made possible a stipulated fee will be paid on completion along with any expenses for travel reimbursed. Macroscopic Solutions will be recognized for its invaluable services in all PR and publications covering this project.

Statement of Performance

“In the 15 years I have worked as an Assistant Director of dealer galleries, I have collaborated with many technicians to realise artworks and Mark’s service is nothing but exceptional.

His professionalism, immediacy with responding to emails/requests, understanding of the subject and how to handle the objects, technical knowledge, ability to organise, quote accurately, get along with people, is simply extraordinary.

Mark went above and beyond the call of duty for us and made Dr. Fiona Pardington’s dreams a reality thanks to his dedication, commitment and skills. Without the development of his camera equipment and skills as a photographer, Fiona’s project Nabokov’s Blue’s: The Charmed Circle would not have been possible either. Mark delivered more than we had hoped.

It is without hesitation, that I write in support of his application to the National Park Services. I can be contacted anytime for a verbal reference on +64212473000.

Thank you for your continuous support Mark”

Chantelle Smith

Associate Director

510 Karangahape Road

Auckland, New Zealand 

Sample of Work

Installation view Honolulu Biennial 2017

Reference 2

Natural History Museum of London

Primary Contact: Maxwell V. L. Barclay
Title: Senior Curator in Charge
Entomology: Coleoptera & Hemiptera
Department of Life Sciences
Natural History Museum
London SW7 5BD

m.barclay@nhm.ac.uk

T: 0207 942 5911

My recent TEDx talk at the Royal Albert Hall is now online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGcu8WwheUU

Terms of Engagement:

Macroscopic Solutions is to photograph the specimen described below on site at the Entomological Collections Network annual meeting in Portland, OR.

Darwinilus sedarisi is a species of rove beetle, the only species in the genus Darwinilus. It is named after Charles Darwin and David Sedaris. It is found in Argentina. A specimen of the beetle was collected by Charles Darwin in 1832 during the voyage of the HMS Beagle, but not formally named as a new species until 2014.[1][2][3][4]

Taxonomy

Darwinilus sedarisi was first described by the American entomologist Stylianos Chatzimanolis in 2014. It is known from only two specimens, both of which are males. The holotype was collected in 1832 by Charles Darwin from Bahía Blanca, Argentina during the voyage of the HMS Beagle.[1]

The second specimen was collected from Río Cuarto, Córdoba by a certain Breuer and deposited at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany. The exact date the specimen was collected is not known, but it is known to have happened before 1935 since the German entomologists Walther Horn and Ilse Kahle listed Breuer’s collection in a 1935 paper.[1]

Darwinilus sedarisi is the only species in the genus Darwinilus. It is classified under the subtribe Xanthopygina, tribe Staphylinini, subfamily Staphylininae of the rove beetle family Staphylinidae.[1]

References

4  Dell’Amore, Christine. “Found: New Beetle Collected by Darwin 180 Years Ago”. National Geographic. Retrieved 15 February 2014.

Statement of Performance

“I had the opportunity to meet Mark in Portland, OR during the Entomological Collections Network a few years ago.  Macroscopic Solutions sponsored the meeting and was demonstrating the company’s imaging products and services for international entomological curators at Natural History Museums and Universities.  I found the equipment very interesting and gave Mark a specimen from our collection at the Natural History Museum, London to photograph.  This particular specimen is of particular interest because it was just described and new from material brought back from the Beagle Voyage by Charles Darwin, and at the time was the only known specimen of its species. It is also a metallic species, which are notoriously difficult to image because of reflection of light. Mark’s care of the specimen, his ability to photograph it, and the quality of the images that he produced were exceptional. Since the photo was taken, it’s been used on Oregon television, as the Natural History Museum beetle collection’s ‘Twitter’ image, and on numerous posters and talks about Charles Darwin and the collections of the Natural History Museum. I would recommend him very strongly for the National Park Service document digitization project because he is extremely careful, professional, and the quality of his work is excellent. He is also a pleasant and easy person to work with.”

 

 

Maxwell V. L. Barclay

Senior Curator in Charge

Insects Division, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD

22nd May 2017 

Sample of Work

(Holotype) Darwinilus sedarisi (only known sample in existence), Collected by Charles Darwin in 1832 from Argentina, South America, Imaged by Macroscopic Solutions

Sample provided by Max Barclay of the Natural History Museum in London and described by Stylianos Chatzimanolis of the University of Tennessee.

Darwinilus sedarisi is a species of rove beetle, the only species in the genus Darwinilus. It is named after Charles Darwin and David Sedaris. It is found in Argentina. A specimen of the beetle was collected by Charles Darwin in 1832 during the voyage of the HMS Beagle, but not formally named as a new species until 2014

Reference 3

University of Connecticut, Dodd Center

Primary Contact: Dr. Peter Baldwin
Title: Professor, Department of History
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

241 Glenbrook Road

Wood Hall, U-4103

Storrs, CT 06269

Peter.Baldwin@uconn.edu

(860) 486-3854

Terms of Engagement:

Macroscopic Solutions imaging device to be used by historians to expose text from a set of diaries that have been partially expunged. The top layer of paper has been scraped away, but not entirely. Hi-res scans of the diary pages are requested using the most non-invasive approach necessary.

Several short passages in Volume II and the second Thoughts Diary were photographed at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center in January and May of 2014 by Mark R. Smith of Macroscopic Solutions LLC, using a process that formed a composite of extremely high resolution images from multiple angles allowing each letter to be examined at a microscopic level.  Smith describes the process as follows: “Panoramic images are comprised of focus stacked frames, which have been stitched together to show individual lines of text.  The focus stacked frames contain approximately 30 individual focal planes stitched together along the z-axis for unlimited depth-of-field viewing.  Panoramic and focus stacked imagery were collected and processed with the Macropod imaging system by Macroscopic Solutions.” (Email to author from Mark R. Smith, 26 January 2015). The composite images were then manipulated for further scrutiny using Adobe Photoshop software.

Statement of Performance

“In my research into the diaries of Samuel Edward Warren (1831-1909), I have found that Warren carefully expunged numerous passages, especially those concerning his sexuality.  In many cases, the top surface of the page had been scraped away with a blade or with ground glass embedded in rubber.  I hired Mark Smith to produce extremely high quality images of several passages, to see if such images could capture enough surviving flecks of ink to allow the words to be reconstructed.  Mark was pleasant to work with and handled the manuscripts with the calmness and care needed to allay the archivist’s concerns. The resulting images were amazingly clear and detailed. Unfortunately, the author’s erasures had been too thorough to allow me to discern the full passages even from these excellent images, but I was fully satisfied with Mark’s technical skills and professional manner, and would recommend him highly.”

Peter C. Baldwin,

History Department,

University of Connecticut

Sample of Work

Text had been removed by abrasive glass etching and written over.  High resolution imagery was produced to recover names, places and dates.