Digital Treasure Trove: Macro Photography

Contribute by Zoe Smith, Project Museum Collections Assistant

PAFA’s collection primarily consists of paintings, works on paper, and sculpture. There are some more unique objects in the collection such as medals! PAFA has a discrete collection of medals that were sculpted for the many prizes it awarded artists during its Annual Exhibitions. These objects are much smaller in comparison to the typical objects that we have photographed for the past year. Because of their size, the photography workflow needed to change to obtain a preservation quality image. The project team added a lightbox and new Helicon Focus software. Together, these dramatically improved our capabilities and efficiency.

One of the benefits of using this workflow with the medium format camera is once the photograph is completed, you can zoom in on miniscule details, showcasing the precision and skills of the artist.

The miniatures in the collection are even smaller than the medals–smaller than a quarter! The focus stacking technique allows us to capture stunning details throughout each piece. Using this technology to photograph these objects brings a new life to each piece. This detail from a Temple Trust Fund Medal is less than 2 inches and shows an amazing rendering of PAFA.  

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