It's all in the detail

Behind the scenes

It's been a productive last few weeks on the project. In this time we've agreed upon and implemented a digitisation standard to encompass the entire 3,500 strong collection. We will be posting some more technical details on the process we used to make these important decisions during the next few weeks. For now, let's have a look at the implications of our new high quality digitisation standard in layman's terms.

Part of our decision making process was to create a series of test scans using different scanner settings and file sizes. The results were astounding! Because the Holtermann negatives were created using the wet-collodion or wet plate process they are virtually grain free. In short, this means that their resolution is only limited by the quality of the camera lens the negative was exposed with, so we are able to pick out tiny details in the negative and bring them up clearly. In the picture below of the gold rush town of Gulgong, NSW for example;

This image had previously been batch scanned from the corresponding 35mm copy negative, so we had a basic idea of what was in the image. Unfortunately, details such as text in signs and the items in shop windows were not distinguishable. Until, that is, we rescanned the original glass plate negative on our new scanner. Below is an enlarged section from the original 35mm copy negative scan (left) and our new scan (right) - you can see the amazing difference in detail retention the high quality scan is giving us.

Every word on the poster is clearly visible. Not only that, the costume and accessories of the time - such as the pipe and hats in this image - have become much easier to examine. What fantastic implications for historians and future researchers of the gold rush era in Victoria and New South Wales!

Family historians will also be able to gain an insight to their gold rush ancestors never before possible with clear close up views of those amazing faces available. A great example is this gentleman outside Stafford Henry Barnes' Mudgee Drug Store in Gulgong, NSW;

We would love to hear your thoughts on our progress so far.