17.102 image-enhancement

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jun 19 2003 - 05:19:46 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 102.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: Melissa Terras <melslists@yahoo.com> (155)
             Subject: Re: 17.094 image-enhancement

       [2] From: "Arianna Ciula" <ciula@media.unisi.it> (20)
             Subject: Re: 17.088 an image-enhancement manual?

       [3] From: Suzana Sukovic <S.Sukovic@library.usyd.edu.au> (41)
             Subject: Re: 17.088 an image-enhancement manual?

             Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:05:18 +0100
             From: Melissa Terras <melslists@yahoo.com>
             Subject: Re: 17.094 image-enhancement

    Dear Willard et al

    At the risk of blowing my own trumpet (or publishing my own manuscript?) I
    recently completed my doctorate at the Department of Engineering Science
    and the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford, which looks
    into this problem, namely, how image processing techniques, and artificial
    intelligence techniques can be used to aid historians in reading damaged
    and deteriorated texts.

    Terras, Melissa (2002). Image to Interpretation: Towards an Intelligent
    System to Aid Historians in the Reading of the Vindolanda Texts. D.Phil
    Thesis, Engineering Science, Oxford University.

    However, to cover the main points:

    - Each document is different, and it is very difficult to come up with one
    technique that can be used on all. However, there are some points which
    become clear:

    1. The most helpful technique developed so far uses infra red photography
    to make carbon ink visible. This is well documented in papers such as

    Bearman, B. H. and S. Spiro (1996). "Archaeological Applications of
    Advanced Imaging Techniques." Biblical Archaeologist 59:1.

    Advanced techniques, such as those for the Vindolanda texts, can only be
    used prescriptively for documents with very defined and similar physical
    characteristics - see below for papers. There are various projects going on
    at CSAD involving digital imaging and AI. The website, again, is

    2. There was a really interesting special edition of literary and
    linguistic computing that came out in 1997 which covered various
    techniques. ie Bagnall, R. S. (1997). "Imaging of Papyri: A Strategic
    View." Literary and Linguistic Computing 12(3): 153-154.

    Bowman, A. K., J. M. Brady, et al. (1997). "Imaging Incised
    Documents." Literary and Linguistic Computing 12(3): 169 - 176.


    3. As far as individuals using photoshop... this is entirely anecdotal. But
    with the experts I have worked with, it has become obvious that certain
    simple filters and techniques are the most helpful. a. reversal of images -
    inversion of colour. this often brings out points the human eye could not
    see easily when the image was "the right way round". inversion of black to
    white is the most helpful. b. messing about with contrast and brightness.
    again, this can highlight areas which had been previously missed or
    overlooked. c. sharpening filters in photoshop are useful. Although it
    should be obvious that whenever filters are applied to a source image, that
    image is distorted, and the user has to be careful to always look back to
    the original so that they dont see things which are "not there" in the
    first place. This is always an interesting problem when using imaging
    techniques and visualisation techniques in the humanities. d. reversing
    images - back to front. it sometimes helps the human eye to see things.
    Papyrologists and palaeographers often like to read things backwards,
    funnily enough. e. obviously, zoom is really useful.

    It should be pretty simple to write a pared down manual of photoshop to
    cover these points. we tried to teach some of the experts to use layers but
    generally no can do....

    4. trivia hounds, the first use of computing/imaging and papyrology was
    actually back in the 1960s,with these two independent studies

    Levison (1965). "The Siting of Fragments." Computer Journal 7: 275 - 277.

    Ogden, J. A. (1969). The Siting of Papyrus Fragments: An Experimental
    Application of Digital Computers. Mathematics. Glasgow, University of
    Glasgow. Ph.D. Thesis.

    5. Other interesting articles?

    Brady, M., X. Pan, et al. (Forthcoming, (2003)). Shadow Stereo, Image
    Filtering and Constraint Propagation. Images and Artefacts of the Ancient
    World, London, British Academy.

    Brown, M. S. and W. B. Seales (2001). 3D Imaging and Processing of Damaged
    Texts. ACH/ALLC, New York University.

    Kiernan, K. S. (1991). "Digital Image Processing and the Beowulf
    Manuscript." Literary and Linguistic Computing 6: 20-27.

    Lundberg, M. J. (2002). "New Technologies: Reading Ancient Inscriptions in
    Virtual Light", West Semitic Research Project, University of Southern
    California. 2002. http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/wsrp/information/article.html

    Prescott, A. (1997). "The Electronic Beowulf and Digital
    Restoration." Literary and Linguistic Computing 12: 185-95.

    Schenk, V. U. B. (2001). Visual Identification of Fine Surface
    Incisions. Department of Engineering Science. Oxford, Oxford
    University. D.Phil Thesis.

    Seales, W. B., J. Griffioen, et al. (2000). "The Digital Athenuem: New
    Technologies for Restoring and Preserving Old Documents." Computers In
    Libraries 20(2): 26-50.

    Stark, J. A. (1992). Digital Image Processing Techniques With Applications
    In Restoring Ancient Manuscripts. Cambridge, Department of Engineering,
    University of Cambridge. EIST Project Report.

    My thesis is in press at the moment. Well, its still being written into a
    book, but should be getting put together soon. when I get round to
    finishing it (and stop looking at the internet....)

    Hope this helps!


    Dr Melissa Terras
    Assistant Manager
    Engineering Policy
    Royal Academy of Engineering
    29 Great Peter Street
    SWIP 3LW

       --- "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard
    McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>)"
    <willard@LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU> wrote: >
             Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17,
    > No. 94.
    > Centre for Computing in the Humanities,
    > King's College London
    > www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
    > Submit to:
    > humanist@princeton.edu
    > Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 06:36:26 +0100
    > From: orlandi@rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it
    > > manual?
    > The best experiments, to my knowledge, have been
    > done by
    > Fotoscientifica Re.co.rd, a small very specialized
    > firm
    > based in Parma (Emilia, Italy), in collaboration
    > with teams
    > of scholars and archive people.
    > You may consult their web page:
    > http://www.fotoscientificarecord.com/
    > which has also an English version.
    > On the other hand, I think that what Chiara
    > Faraggiana di
    > Sarzana writes, prefacing the publication of one
    > such
    > experiment, is very true: [my translation] Our
    > experiment
    > has confirmed once more the peculiarity of the
    > material
    > of EACH palimpsest folio. It is manifestly
    > impossible to
    > propose one technique universally valid, and
    > applicable
    > with similar results to every kind of manuscript.
    > (_Manoscritti Palinsesti Criptensi_, Ravenna-Parma
    > 1998)
    > Tito Orlandi
    > Tito Orlandi
    > orlandi@rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it
    > CISADU - Fac. di Lettere Tel.
    > 39+06.4991-3936
    > P.zale Aldo Moro, 5 Fax
    > 39+60.4991-3945
    > 00185 Roma
    > http://rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it/~orlandi

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             Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:07:45 +0100
             From: "Arianna Ciula" <ciula@media.unisi.it>
             Subject: Re: 17.088 an image-enhancement manual?

    I am working on digital reproductions of medieval manuscripts for a research
    project of palaeographical analysis and what I have missed from the
    beginning of my research is such a manual.

    Surely everyone could experiment the best solution for his own case, but a
    directional methodology is still needed. What we have for physical
    restoration and conservation of old books, we do not have for treatment of
    digital images. This is valid not only for the general digital image
    processing (the features and opportunities regarding filters and the
    purposes of the digital edition), but even for the process of scanning of
    old books and charts as a whole (for instance: which product or scanner fits
    better which document and which material conditions?).

    The link I might suggest is the web site that tells the story of another
    project I am involved with: a relational database on musical manuscript


    Actually, in this case the images are not really seen as primary instruments
    of analysis (as it is the case of the purposes of my Ph.D. research and in
    general of the palaeographers' studies), but as terms of comparison and
    verification of the digital edition.


    Arianna Ciula

             Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 10:08:54 +0100
             From: Suzana Sukovic <S.Sukovic@library.usyd.edu.au>
             Subject: Re: 17.088 an image-enhancement manual?

    Dear Willard,

    Here are a few comments on your questions. I am glad that you started this
    discussion because I feel for quite some time that imaging experts and
    people who work on digitisation projects need to develop some instructional
    material together.

    >I am involved in a project to produce an electronic edition of a single
    >medieval manuscript. This edition will of course provide high-definition
    >images of the ms pages. Some of the pages in the manuscript are in poor
    >condition, with among other things bleed-through of ink from the other side
    >of the leaf. We anticipate that users of the edition will want digitally to
    >enhance these pages or parts of them. If "enhancement" were a simple matter
    >then of course we would provide enhanced images, but it is not. Deformative
    >play of various sorts, yet to be discovered or problematic but fruitful,
    >needs to be encouraged. It occurs to me that the best approach would be to
    >provide in the introductory material to this edition a description of how
    >particular filters, say in Photoshop, can be used under particular
    >circumstances to bring out features of an image. I can imagine, for
    >example, addressing the problem of a word originally written in silver ink
    >or paint for which the metal has mostly fallen off, leaving small bits
    >behind. What filter, or what filters used in what sequence with what
    >settings, would be best to show the remaining metallic bits?

    This one is very difficult to answer without seeing the images.

    >Does such a image-manipulation manual for manuscript scholars exist? If
    >not, would there be sufficient interest to motivate the collaborative
    >production of such a manual?

    I think so. Most people develop their own ways of enhancing page images but
    it would be very useful to have a proper instruction how to use various
    features of popular software packages. It would be great to have a regular
    review of a new Photoshop release that would list new features which could
    be used to enhance page images.


    Suzana Sukovic
    Rare Books and Special Collections Library
    University of Sydney Library, NSW 2006

    tel: (02) 9351 2992
    fax: (02) 9351 2890
    e-mail: s.sukovic@library.usyd.edu.au

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