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Header image for the Before Egypt conservation blog post

Telling a story with photos: ceramics conservation for Before Egypt

Artefact photography is just one aspect of what I do. Another, at the other end of the scale, is documentary photography.

Unlike my artefact photography, which is carefully controlled and thought out, documentary photography is about working with what you’ve got, and reacting to the moment. Your environment dictates the photography, rather than the photography dictating the environment.

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A screenshot of Helicon Focus doing focus-stacking

What is focus stacking?

Have you ever looked at those amazing macro photos of flowers and insects by professional photographers, but when you tried it yourself, your photo was grossly out of focus?

That’s probably because the photos you saw used focus-stacking.

Focus-stacking is a technique photographers use when they can’t get all of their subject in focus in a single shot. And it’s a technique that I use almost all the time for my artefact photography.

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Photographing flint tools using a lightbox

It can be all too easy to think that doing artefact photography is routine, a bit samey and perhaps … dare I say it … a tiny bit dull.

Nuh-uh! Not so. Especially if you’re able to be a bit investigative and curious.

Doing the photography for the Before Egypt exhibition, I needed to photograph some flint tools and stone palettes.

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header image for osirian triad blog post

An Osirian triad amulet

On 19 July 2018, my photography session at the Garstang was a Tiny Egypt one. Feeling a bit like a child at Christmas, I took a box of amulets into the imaging suite and dug in.

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Travelling back to the time before the pharaohs: the Predynastic Period

So, it’s a new year and I have a new project to get working on at the Garstang (hooray!). The museum’s next exhibition is planned for 2019 and shifts right back to the Predynastic Period; the time before the pharaohs. I don’t yet know what the detailed theme of the exhibition will be, though it is early days. What I do know, however, is that there’s a lot for me to be photographing, so my work’s already begun in earnest.

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Update from the Garstang: tiny amulets and a visit from Bob Brier

Having had a bit of a break from photographing artefacts while the Book of the Dead exhibition was being put together, I started back at the Garstang a couple of weeks ago.

Whilst having a bit of an explore of the storerooms, I happened upon some boxes of amulets; I knew immediately these tiny little objects could be great fun to photograph.

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Light Night opening of the Book of the Dead exhibition

After numerous hours in the photographic suite, many more vying with Photoshop, followed by several weeks of nail biting, hoping my photos would make the grade, finally, we got there. The Book of the Dead exhibition opened at the Garstang on 19 May 2017 as part of Liverpool Light Night.

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Repairing papyri in Photoshop

Using Photoshop to repair papyrus that have sustained damage is a technique I’ve used for several images featured in the Book of the Dead exhibition. This blog post explains why the sheets of papyri are damaged and how I bring them back together in Photoshop.

The process of repairing papyri
So, what is it I’m doing when I’m repairing papyri? The purpose is to pull together and realign broken sections. The example I’m using here is from a copy of the Amduat from the Garstang Museum. The Amduat was a funerary text whose contents showed the nighttime journey of the sun-god through the underworld. This particular copy belonged to a lady called Tjaty from the 21st Dynasty of ancient Egypt (1077–943 BC).

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