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I would be interested to know what forum readers think of the role of photography when carrying out an excavation.
Do recent archaeology graduates have a formal training in photography?
Is the production of point clouds/3D models, from normal photos, a standard technique taught on courses?
Have any readers photographed areas of an excavation outside the visible spectrum (near UV and near IR), with a normal digital camera on a tripod and appropriate filters?
Has anyone used a thermal imaging camera with any success?
Judging by the typically appalling end results, no I don't think they're allowed anywhere near a camera at Uni, and they certainly aren't taught basics of site photography like e.g. getting the scales straight and maybe putting the number board somewhere in the foreground of the shot where it might be readable.... Sad
Oh, right, is this another thread slagging off university training for not being vocational enough?Smile

In answer to your questions John, I got all my actual picture taking training with companies. There were certianly photos taken during my training dig but I was busy doing other tasks. I did get plenty of training in the technical aspects of images and surveying during my masters, though not in any of the techniques that you mention.

Can you really see more features on a site outside the visible spectrum, or is it just that the edges are clearer? I have heard of IR aerial photos showing more bits of cropmark than can be seen in normal light, but that can be explained by how the plants absorb/reflect different parts of the spectrum...
Photography is very important as a source of "proof" and a way of catching things in pictures that the photographer may not have noticed at the time (or didn't think important until way too late...), but it is a skill that needs taught on site. Skills are variable, and there are some folk who shouldn't be let loose with a camera! At least with digital cameras "on site" training can be effective because the results can be reviewed straight away.

I got no formal camera training as an undergrad (long, long, ago, in a Uni far, far, away...), and as a Masters student I still got no piccy training, but did get a full term of ink drawing with Rotring pens. Not sure what happens these days. (My general camera skills were self-taught, followed by dig-specific stuff like scales & ID boards & record-keeping learned on the job.)

While I've seen interesting results with UV and IR (based on special film and/or gear), I seriously doubt these are skills for the untrained. And don't get me started on point clouds! Once you start down the photogrammetry route you need serious knowledge to avoid wasting time producing garbage, and I can't see it being anything but the preserve of those with a specialist bent. (And I've done it as well as taught it to site staff...) With any tech on site you need somebody in the chain with the knowledge (theory & practice) to QC the results and troubleshoot, because many of the newer toys give results regardless (rather than just failing if something is wrong) and these may or may not be correct even if they look pretty to the untrained eye. That doesn't mean cutting out the general staff from the process - just that they need a lot of hands-on skilling & supervision to get up & running.
At my Uni (Poland - Gdansk) we did not get any training in photography. But I know from "the first hand" that there is a great potential for archaeology.

At my last job (for Norwegian company) I was using a camera with five lens (each was doing a photo in different wavelength - IR, R, G, B, UV). It was installed on a plane and was taking photos vertically to the ground.
After that using for example ArcGIS I was mixing them in many different ways to get color image. We had a spectacular results, I found a lot of sites and objects (for example Vikings mounds) which were not mentioned at Norwegian National Archaeology database. We made surface research to verify results - Objects were there. Wink
Photography skills seem to have gone by the way-side over the last decade, I did some training at uni but most of the skills were learned on the job. Most folk don't want to/have to learn the skills nowadays because of the use of digital cameras. At first they were used in conjunction with the film formats but this seems to have been gradually eroded to the point where only digital pics are taken and I know the local county mounty up here is happy with that single format. I still prefer to use colour, black and white and digital.
John Wells Wrote:I would be interested to know what forum readers think of the role of photography when carrying out an excavation.
Do recent archaeology graduates have a formal training in photography?
Is the production of point clouds/3D models, from normal photos, a standard technique taught on courses?
Have any readers photographed areas of an excavation outside the visible spectrum (near UV and near IR), with a normal digital camera on a tripod and appropriate filters?
Has anyone used a thermal imaging camera with any success?

In my opinion, photography is vital to any excavation and is often an under used resource. Not just for the primary record but in recovering other folks mess-ups and re-interpretations.
Also where would a publication be without some snazzy photos.

Photographing a site with UV or IR? Can't see why this would be of use on a site, aerial photos yes.

As for thermal imaging cameras, yes my dad used to use them in the firebrigade, don't know how they would be useful on an archaeological site, unless you are hunting for bunnies or hamsters.
At the UofEd, we had the option of taking an Archaeological Illustration course which more covered methods used when preparing your photos for publication, a lot less about standards used in the field. We also did have an optional 3 or 4 hour intensive seminar on 3D artefact scanning, which was quite good and surprisingly easy. That was mostly PhD students in osteo, I think I was the only straight archaeology track student there. But on the whole we weren't taught much by way of survey methods and the tools you used to get it done, I think the expectation from universities in the UK these days is that you figure that stuff out on your own through field schools. I did my undergrad in the USA where it seems like there is far more of an interest in teaching survey methods and photography (I had at least two classes in both land and marine based survey methodologies) and there was definitely a photography element to that, but not so much about how to use a camera, just what types of pictures are effective during survey and when. From friends doing masters at various schools in the northeast (US), they seem to be pushed out into the field as soon as possible so they get all those experiences, especially with using GPR, GPS, and GIS so they'd be marketable after graduation. This of course is probably just a case of "depends where you go"...

I'm ramblin' on like a foo'....
Quote:Photography is very important as a source of "proof" and a way of catching things in pictures that the photographer may not have noticed at the time (or didn't think important until way too late...), but it is a skill that needs taught on site.
Not sure that go along with this. I try to take pictures of what I have noticed. Take a post hole pre-ex picture. Not sure in what way it is proof or what I might not have noticed until it was to late.

Personally glad to see the back of wet chemistry K1000s and all the associated photography experts mainly because it was a post ex "proof". Digi offers the possibility of pre ex recording and a bit of geophysics. pretty certain that there is no point teaching that to anybody doing a BA.
Good photos and good photos.

here are a couple. Now which one is more useful? well presented, thought out, clear... etc. People do have to learn some basics in photography

I am with Unit on saying bye bye to film... but the temptation is to equate lots of digital photos with - there will be something in there we may be able to use.

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You decide. or does it not matter... ?
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