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  collectSPACE: Artifacts (was: Hardware)

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Author Topic:   collectSPACE: Artifacts (was: Hardware)
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-20-2005 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I first created collectSPACE, it was for the purpose of displaying my collection, though it wasn't for others' eyes; it was for my own. I was moving and I knew that it would be some time before I could unpack (given the nature of the relocation), so I decided to post pictures of my items online so that I could see them when I desired.

One thing led to another and the site's focus gradually and then quickly changed from a personal gallery to providing an information and community resource for space history and space memorabilia enthusiasts. Still, I kept my collection displayed as part of it, both as a means of sharing the artifacts for which I am only a custodian and to continue to fulfill my original intent with the site. Along the way, I have hoped that other collectors - and those fresh to the hobby - might see something they like and pick up the hobby themselves.

With all of that in mind, I have just completed an overhaul of my "Hardware" section and in the process renamed it "Artifacts". I have re-photographed previously exhibited items and updated the gallery with pieces that I hadn't previously displayed. There are are now 80 artifacts in the gallery, spanning both the U.S. and Russian space programs (though mostly U.S.) from Mercury/Vostok through the ISS. Each piece has its own page, with historical information and a brief description of the item. Some artifacts' photos can also be enlarged (to illustrate detail or related items).

The new section can be viewed here.

Rizz
Member

Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-20-2005 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a nice collection Robert. Thanks for sharing it. And thanks for collectSPACE.

Many of those artifacts can be a challenge to image - nice job! Who does your photography?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-20-2005 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Rizz.

quote:
Originally posted by Rizz:
Who does your photography?
I do myself; if the item was flat I used scans, but for all three-dimensional artifacts I used my Nikon D70. A combination of green screen, a custom-built dark box and Photoshop tools were used to separate the artifacts from their backgrounds, giving the (hoped for) impression that they are floating in space.

Rob Joyner
Member

Posts: 1305
From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 12-21-2005 01:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, Thank you! Thank you for all you have done!

You have many autographs, flown items, etc., and I was wondering which of these is your absolute favorite...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-21-2005 02:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rob Joyner:
I was wondering which of these is your absolute favorite...
Rob, that's a tough choice! From just among the artifacts, I would have to say it is the collectSPACE pin that flew to the ISS for personal (but obvious) reasons.

Historically minded, I am partial to the Apollo 11 flown bread cubes and the Viking 1 metal shavings that were to be presented to President Ford.

Taking everything I own into account, the choice is easy: my signed copy of "Who's Who in Space" as it has been the one item that has traveled at my side for the past 20 years. It is as much a personal scrapbook as it is an astronaut autograph collection.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 12-21-2005 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stunning collection Robert... I am very happy to see the Viking acrylic went to a worthy home.

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 818
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 12-21-2005 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Really nice job in reorganizing the collection site. The collection is really a great cross section of all eras of spaceflight.

nasamad
Member

Posts: 1911
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 12-21-2005 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great items Robert, but I was even more impressed with your photography!

How about a feature on how to photograph your artifacts? I bet there's quite a few of us who just can't seem to get it right and could do with your expert advice.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-21-2005 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by nasamad:
How about a feature on how to photograph your artifacts ?
I am not sure if I am qualified to write such an article. At the very least, I would butcher the terminology as I never learned traditional photography. I came into cameras from the digital side; my first camera was an Apple QuickTake (the only film cameras I have owned have been of the throw away variety). I have been through about 20 digital cameras, the last five being Nikons as I feel their in-camera software is the most intuitive and their build quality the best. The D70 is my first (D)SLR.

What you see in the collection gallery is largely the result of trial and error. Every item was photographed at least 5 times, most many more (in one case, I took over 100 shots until I was happy with the result). Each photo would be slightly different as I modified camera settings, lighting and backdrops.

Regarding the latter, I primarily used three (backdrops): a blue drop cloth, a red drop cloth and a dark box - a five wall cube with black interior sides that alowed for back-lighting from an interior lamp. When appropriate, I used pole-mounted lights that could be angled to provide reflected or direct illumination. (Other times I would shoot in a pitch black room, allowing the camera's flash to provide the only light source.)

The dark box was used when items had transparent or translucent components, e.g the acrylics. The blue and red cloths were used when objects were solid. I would then take the resulting images into Photoshop and carefully - sometimes pixel by pixel - separate the object from its background. I would then adjust brightness, color balance and contrast until the desired effect was reached.

Other than that, I can recommend buying a few clear acrylic risers and display triangles. They can "float" your item and as they are clear, are easier to remove digitally.

I'll be happy to offer advice to other collectors or answer questions as I can but the best suggestion I can volunteer is to treat each item individually. There is no one setting or set-up that works for every item (at least not in my experience). You need to approach each piece as a separate photo shoot and consider what might work best for that particular item. And do not be afraid to experiment; so long as you are shooting digitally, you can always hit the delete key on the camera or computer.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-21-2005 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was playing around with the imagery from my collection today, loading the individual shots onto my iPod for the ultimate in portable collections.

In the process, I came up with the following, that in larger format is now the wallpaper for my computer's desktop. Maybe this will give others an idea of how to display their collections at their work places or homes:

Leon Ford
Member

Posts: 309
From: Shreveport, LA, United States
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-21-2005 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Leon Ford   Click Here to Email Leon Ford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have had very good luck photographing my artifacts outside, in bright sunlight on a black poster board. It is very easy and I get very good contrast and detail on the artifact. Try to shoot during the middle part of the day and shadows are no problem.

Just a low cost, low tech way to make some nice photos. All the photos on my web site were shot like this.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 12-21-2005 09:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
In the process, I came up with the following, that in larger format is now the wallpaper for my computer's desktop.
The only problem is that your collection is becoming so expansive you will need to have another monitor to display a second wall paper as you add more "stuff"!

mensax
Member

Posts: 861
From: Virginia
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 12-22-2005 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensax   Click Here to Email mensax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My, how your collection has grown over the last couple of years! Congratulations on the newest pieces... some really sweet ones in there... many unique and one of kind.

I've always been impressed with your photography skills... if you recall I had the privilege of experiencing your photo studio/office in DC years ago. I imagine it's improved since then.

I know that this upgrade took a great deal of your time but we all appreciate the result of your efforts, as I'm sure you do. I also enjoyed your words in introducing your collection...

quote:
I keep my collection displayed... both as a means of sharing the artifacts for which I am only a custodian... I hope that other collectors - and those fresh to the hobby - might see something they like and pick up the hobby themselves.
...and when they do put together a collection, they will share it with all of us in a similar way.

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