Behind the scenes Collections Long read Series

Imaging takes an Isolated View (Part 1): Hidden Treasures or Unknown Pleasures?

Working from home has given us the opportunity to delve deeper into our image processing software.

Working from home has given us the opportunity to delve deeper into our image processing software. What has become clear is that we only use 20% of a software’s true capabilities. The number of menus, sub menus and plugins can be somewhat overwhelming at first and of limited use within specific imaging fields. 

This led me to take a look at our Multispectral Imaging software, ImageJ. ImageJ is an open source image processing program for multidimensional image data with a specific focus on scientific image analysis. We use ImageJ for processing multispectral image data of palimpsests, faded and obscured texts and also for pigment analysis using spectral reflectance curves. We use it in a very specific way with a tested workflow and set of tools. 

For the my Isolated View, I thought I’d take a look through the multitude of plugins and macros available on ImageJ. I had a basis of an idea from our work with spectral curves of pigments and was interested in alternative ways of visualising data.  

The plugin that caught my attention was the Interactive 3D Surface Plot plugin. This plugin creates interactive surface plots, the luminance of an image is interpreted as height for plotting in a graphical space. Luminance is best characterised, in this case, as an indication of the brightness of a surface to the human eye. 

At first, I started with our multispectral images but found I could import any image format. I was interested in how pigment and colour from an image could be represented in a graph, this then led to a more visually creative outputs by removing the grid, axis and key so that the plots only remained. We have seen too many graphs and charts on the news and social media of late. 

Here’s video clip to give an idea of the software interaction:

An image of one of our Golden Thread colour calibration charts and then an image of the same chart as a 3D lined ribbon.

Golden Thread colour chart
Golden Thread colour chart as 3D lined ribbon

So, how about a John Rylands Library Special Collection item?  

Here’s Greek P 457 – the St John Fragment, a papyrus fragment of St John’s Gospel, Chapter 18, verses 37-38, in which Christ appears before Pilate. It was discovered in Upper Egypt, possibly at Oxyrhynchus. It is part of a codex, and is the earliest known fragment of the New Testament in any language. It was acquired by the Library in 1920. 

Here is the verso of P 457 in the ImageJ plugin.

And a screengrab of the verso as a cross section crop. Remember this is not a topographical representation but a representation of luminance. 

A screen grab of a cross section of the St John Fragment luminance as a lined ribbon.

And edited in Adobe Photoshop.

A screen grab of a cross section of the St John Fragment luminance as a lined ribbon, edited in Photoshop.

A screengrab of the full Verso.

A screen grab of the St John Fragment luminance as a lined ribbon.

And edited in Adobe Photoshop.  

Some of you will be able to see where this is going…  

A screen grab of the St John Fragment luminance as a lined ribbon, edited in Photoshop.

A nod to Manchester born Graphic designer, Peter Saville, and his 1979 iconic Joy Division album cover design “Unknown Pleasures”

Hidden Treasures, by Tony Richards

5 comments on “Imaging takes an Isolated View (Part 1): Hidden Treasures or Unknown Pleasures?

  1. stellahalkyardoutlookcom

    Fabulous! Joy Division is the St John – it could only happen in Manchester!

  2. Jane Gallagher

    This is great, thanks for sharing Tony! After so much study and interrogation, the St John Gospel fragment still has secrets to reveal.

  3. Fascinating, thanks for sharing this!

  4. szrawlings

    This is amazing. I am very keen to know more about this. Are you planning on publishing any more in-depth articles?

    • Tony Richards

      Hello,

      Thank you for your comment, What would you like to know?
      And yes, we are planning more creative and experimental Imaging blog posts in the near future. The content will be varied.

      Tony

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