Monday, January 11, 2010

Film vs. digital photography in archaeology today

Colleen at Middle Savagery is running a poll asking archaeologists about what kind of photography they use for their research nowadays, film or digital. Go give her a hand if you're a field archaeologist.

In recent years, I've come to rely exclusively on digital photography, with prints when they're needed. By and large, though, prints are rarely needed anymore and .tifs and .jpegs have been more convenient to insert in both field reports, publications and conference presentations. I'd be curious to know if this is generalized, especially in paleoanthropology.

This is actually an interesting question, with important implications for how archaeological data gets preserved for posterity. In recent years, I'm familiar with at least one study that has used recently rediscovered original glass photo plates to derive new information on an important collection of human remains that was destroyed during World War II (Velemínská et al. 2004). With the issue of the preservation of data in digital format for posterity becoming something of a hot topic in archaeology today, the issue of how archaeological data and documentation are acquired, stored and curated is a very relevant one indeed.


Velemínská, J. Brůžek, P. Velemínský, A. Šefčáková and S. Katina, The use of recently re-discovered glass plate photo-documentation of those human fossil finds from Předmostí u Přerova destroyed during World War II. J. Natl. Mus. Nat. Hist. Ser. 173:129–132.

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