To John Huntington, Dominik, Arlo Griffith, et al.,

The kind of scanning tent shown in the picture that Arlo sent derives from the work in the 2000s by Tom Malzbender at HP Labs (in Palo Alto, California) known as “Reflectance Transformation Imaging.” The technology now is about 20 years old. I reviewed its uses in paleographical and archaeological research at one of the early Harvard Roundtables on the Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, back in 2001, shortly after Tom had demonstrated its uses in enhancing archaeological inscriptions. 

John: I think we also discussed the technology back then as well on the private “Scholarly Services List" that Lars Martin Fosse was running then when the Indology List wasn’t operating.

A lot of very detailed information on the technology — and how to use it —  can be found on the webpage of the non-profit "Cultural Heritage Imaging Project,” which is run by a very large set of US and a few non-US Research Institutes. For a list of the full members of collaboration, go here ). 

Tom Malzbender I noticed this morning is on the Board of Directors.  For really deep written and graphic overviews, both technical and non-technical, of how "Reflectance Transformation Imaging" works, go here; there are good pictures there of some of the reconstructions.

Warm regards,
Steve Farmer
The Systems Biology Group,
Palo Alto

Overiew here:

Adeline Levivier, Visual Data Manager for the DHARMA project, whom you see in action in this photo, has conceived this cube-shaped tent with movable LEDs and obtained excellent result for photographing copper plates during our fieldwork in Bangladesh last year. If there is interest, I can ask her to write up a description of how to build this very portable contraption.

Arlo Griffiths 

Envoyé de mon iPhone

Le 17 juil. 2020 à 03:16, Dominik Wujastyk via INDOLOGY <> a écrit :

Dear John, I've never tried to buy one, but there's an "order" button on this web page:
If you do get one, I'd love to hear your experience with it.  If it's as good as it sounds, I'll get one too.  I don't have thousands of images like you, but I do some manuscript photography in India from time to time.  I've used a downward-facing Nikon on a tripod with a remote shutter release in the past.  Good results, but quite a fiddly setup, and good light is usually difficult.


Professor Dominik Wujastyk

Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity

University of Alberta, Canada

South Asia at the U of A:

On Thu, 16 Jul 2020 at 12:38, John Huntington via INDOLOGY <> wrote:
Dear Dominik
I was truly excited by your note on the Transksribus not so much by the project itself but by the scan tent that they are using. As you may know I have been both an art historian and  photographer of fine arts, of primarily Buddhist art, for five decades and the scan tent they are using with its internal lighting and ease of object manipulation seems ideal for some of our work. To that end I have tried to find one in the photographic equipment market. No luck. Do you have any idea where such a tool might be available?

Sorry to bother you with this but there are a couple of thousand flat images to prepare for the Archive, it will be a great service to me if you know. 

Thank you 

John Huntington
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