Using a modified Canon 30D DSLR (purchased off eBay) Professor Charles M. Falco has been able to reveal underlayers of existing artwork showing details previously unknown about the artwork.
The technique of using infrared (IR) to examine old artwork is certainly not new, but Professor Falco’s camera mod allows pretty much anyone, with or without specialized skills, to do the initial testing.
Charles Falco, Professor of Optical Sciences, did a simple mod on the Canon 30D to remove the IR blocking filter that is standard on current DLSRs, and replace it with a visible light blocking filter. (This is what many IR photo enthusiasts do themselves) He then adjusted the Auto-focus and Auto-exposure systems to work with the new setup.
“The lines in this underdrawing show up in a detail of a Renaissance painting titled “Man of Sorrows with Saints and Donors.” The lines apparent in the infrared converge to a well-defined vanishing point, showing that this particular artist understood the laws of geometrical perspective. (Credit: Charles Falco)”
This is all known technique. What Professor Falco gets credit for, as far as I can see, is having the credentials (read: an academia union card) to make curators of museum collections aware that it can be done without an official museum undertaking. Previously, such work would require all the permissions and insurances to send an artwork to a lab equipped with expensive hardware to do the (mostly) same thing. Now an underpaid grad student can be pressed into service!
An interview podcast with Professor Falco can be heard on KJZZ (NPR Phoenix)
There is also a piece in the UANews, Scientist’s Camera Sees Artwork Down to Its Underdrawings, on the Professor’s efforts.
Not to be snarky, but Charles! You’re a respected Professor of Optical Sciences, a life long photographer. Get a better portrait of yourself! This one is soft, shaky, out of focus and has poor color fidelity. Turn that camera on yourself, and hold still!
Or, get in touch with me for a sympathetic professional portrait. I’m only a few miles away from you 😉
But, thanks for doing the camera modification work.
I’ve been working with digital IR, and what I’ve discovered will be revealed in a later set of posts on PhotographyUncapped. Cheers.