Thursday, 18 February 2016

New photograph of the seal of Alexander the Great

(click to enlarge)
For the catalogue worksheet for the seal, now with this photo, see:
The Seal of Alexander the Great -- part two.

Part one is the background story and introduction
Part three is on the epigraphy;
Part four is on the iconography
Part five has the legend that surrounds the type, and some afterthoughts

Having recently bought a new camera (Nikon CoolPix S3700) after my old Olympus died. I have been replacing a few pictures on the blog. In some cases, I have not got around to replacing all examples of a a specific picture, but this one is only shown once. The small size of the seal and its dark colour made it difficult to get a good image (with attempts made with three different cameras, including one done by someone else on a fairly good Canon DSLR). The problem was never just the camera, it was the lighting and the background, and of course, tiny dust and fabric particles.

This time, I cleaned and dried the deal carefully to remove only the modern particles and not to affect the patina in any way, then I took more than a dozen photographs with different lighting at different angles; at different distances from the lens; and on different coloured backgrounds. Some of those were deleted right away while others underwent a more judicious review and and some further processing. The winner was the one above, although a particle floating in the air did find its way onto the seal on my copy stand and can be seen as the tiny white line at the bottom edge. Most of it was cropped out when I selected the image and anti-aliased the edges to five pixels. I also placed the selected image on a neutral grey background to bring out the (post-processed) colours which I had colour-matched in diffuse daylight. The biggest problem with the lighting was the getting glare on parts of the image. A dark charcoal grey turned out to be the best background, but I had to prepare the selection area by increasing the gamma considerably to find the edges, then I overlayed an unaltered copy onto the selection and floated the selection with the replaced image as  you cannot exactly go back without losing something. It all took three graphic programs Because the most modern one could "speak" to the oldest one (Fauve Matisse) and the third one (less ancient) acted as "translator". Most of the real work was in Fauve Matisse which does not work on anything later than Windows XP

The old version
Whenever I can afford it I will get a decent Nikon digital SLR with a proper macro lens and then I will replace the  photo yet again, but the tiny Nikon CoolPix did a surprisingly good job.

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