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Proceedings Paper

Accurate color images: from expensive luxury to essential resource
Author(s): David R. Saunders; John Cupitt
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Paper Abstract

Over ten years ago the National Gallery in London began a program to make digital images of paintings in the collection using a colorimetric imaging system. This was to provide a permanent record of the state of paintings against which future images could be compared to determine if any changes had occurred. It quickly became apparent that such images could be used not only for scientific purposes, but also in applications where transparencies were then being used, for example as source materials for printed books and catalogues or for computer-based information systems. During the 1990s we were involved in the development of a series of digital cameras that have combined the high color accuracy of the original 'scientific' imaging system with the familiarity and portability of a medium format camera. This has culminated in the program of digitization now in progress at the National Gallery. By the middle of 2001 we will have digitized all the major paintings in the collection at a resolution of 10,000 pixels along their longest dimension and with calibrated color; we are on target to digitize the whole collection by the end of 2002. The images are available on-line within the museum for consultation and so that Gallery departments can use the images in printed publications and on the Gallery's web- site. We describe the development of the imaging systems used at National Gallery and how the research we have conducted into high-resolution accurate color imaging has developed from being a peripheral, if harmless, research activity to becoming a central part of the Gallery's information and publication strategy. Finally, we discuss some outstanding issues, such as interfacing our color management procedures with the systems used by external organizations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 June 2002
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 4421, 9th Congress of the International Colour Association, (6 June 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.464615
Show Author Affiliations
David R. Saunders, National Gallery (United Kingdom)
John Cupitt, National Gallery (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4421:
9th Congress of the International Colour Association

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