Building an Archive that will Last: File Size

Above: The Eastern Cape from the air. Africa Media Online’s Mobile Digitisation Unit has relocated to the Eastern Cape to digitise the International Library of African Music

Welcome to the second edition of the Digital Picture Library Manager blog designed to add value to the management of your picture and media collections as well as to keep you up to date with developments at Africa Media Online and the world of digital imaging that could be of benefit you.
In this edition:
1. Building an archive that will last: file size
2. Black owned company acquires majority shareholding in Africa Media Online
3. Digital imaging masterclasses meet the need in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg
4. World’s foremost African music archive to be digitised by Africa Media Online
5. South African photographer, David Goldblatt, wins prestigious honorary fellowship
1. Building an archive that will last: file size

Capturing files that will last: digital imaging consultant, Graeme Cookson at the International Library of African Music

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The new imaging standards, which can be downloaded here, gives target file sizes for submission to its image library in megabytes. This is because the size of an image is a more accurate measure of its quality, as long as it has not been interpolated (had the size bumped up artificially), than the commonly used measure – resolution. For resolution to be a useful measure, the dimensions of a file need to be mentioned. Simply saying a file is “300 dpi” is not enough. It is like saying “100 km/hour” in response to the question “how far is Pretoria from Johannesburg?” “100 km/hour for 1 hour” is going to be a far more useful answer. Likewise “300 dpi at 10 cm by 15 cm” tells you more about how useful an image will be. To get to the point more quickly in response to the question about the distance from Johannesburg to Pretoria, one could have said 100 km. In the same way a more efficient way to speak about file size is in Megabytes.
The Digital Imaging Standards document outlines the target file sizes for building a collection for professional print purposes and for archiving.

The minimum standard for professional news and sport photography, where photographers often have to shoot large numbers of images to capture the action, is the most lenient in terms of file size. An 18 MB file can be shot on a 6 megapixel camera.
On the other extreme are images for commercial work which should be between 50 and 60 MB in size so that they can be used on everything from a magazine advert to large display boards.
50 to 60 MB is also the file size if you are wanting to produce archival quality scans from negatives and transparencies. Museums and archives also tend to have to scan photographic prints and here the file size will vary according to the size of the print. The convention is to scan the print at it real dimensions (eg. 10 cm x 15 cm) at 600 dpi. This means you are capturing enough data to print that image at twice the size of the original.
The minimum file size for editorial images is between 24 and 30 MB which is sufficient for printing a full page of a magazine and has enough quality factor for a double page spread. Of course with all of these we are speaking about minimum targets and if a sports photographer captures images at between 50 and 60 MB those images simply become useful for more purposes.

2. Black owned company acquires majority shareholding in Africa Media Online

Picture collections need to be digitised for the purpose of preservation and access. You want to make sure you do it right the first time so you do not have to revisit an expensive process again

Kabusha Technology Investments Pty. (Ltd.) has recently acquired a majority stake in Africa Media Online. The change in ownership means that Africa Media Online is now officially black owned and holds the status of HDI as defined by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industries. The new executive chairperson and director, Sandile Swana, said there are two primary developmental needs in Africa, cost effective transportation and effective communication. He sees Africa Media Online as a solid investment as it is contributing greatly toward effective communication in the African continent as African media professionals, media organisations and heritage institutions are empowered by the technological platform developed by Africa Media Online, to tell Africa’s story to a global audience. Africa Media Online’s Director, David Larsen said he was delighted to be in partnership with Kabusha Technology Investments Pty. (Ltd.) as they bring a solid financial base to the company and considerable financial skill. Kabusha Technology Investments Pty. (Ltd.) now owns 51% of the company, the Larsen Family Trust 39% and Dr Rouen Bruni has a 10% equity share.

3. Digital imaging masterclasses meet the need in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg

UK based digital imaging consultant, Graeme Cookson, demonstrates masking techniques in Photoshop to participants in the Practical Digital Workflow masterclass in Durban

Africa Media Online’s digital masterclasses run in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in August with Graeme Cookson received wonderfully high ratings from participants. Africa Media Online’s Director, David Larsen, said he was delighted with the feedback. “Considering that all participants at the six masterclasses were imaging professionals in their own right – designers, museums professionals, professional photographers and the like – it was amazing that across the board participants expressed that they benefited greatly. We are obviously hitting the mark. It is obviously rewarding for us in view of our passion to empower African imaging professionals to be confident in working at international standards. It is always wonderful working with Graeme because he is not only extremely knowledgeable but also a brilliantly clear communicator.
This year Africa Media Online ran two types of masterclass in each city. A two day, Practical Digital Workflow masterclasses where participants sit at work stations and put into practice what they are being taught, was added to the one day Digital Imaging Essentials masterclass which had been successfully run in 2005 and 2006. This year the Digital Imaging Essentials masterclass got the following average scores from participant evaluations out of a possible 10 (bearing in mind that the participants were all imaging professionals): Durban – 9.1; Cape Town – 8.9; Johannesburg 8.5. The new Practical Digital Workflow masterclasses got the following average scores from participant evaluations out of a possible 10: Durban – 9.6; Cape Town – 9.5; Johannesburg – 9.1.
Africa Media Online intends to bring Graeme Cookson out again next year and is in the process of finalising dates and courses. There is also a possibility of running classes in other cities as an invitation has already been received from Bloemfontein.
4. World’s foremost African music archive to be digitised by Africa Media Online

ILAM’s Director, Professor Diane Thram examines pictures in the archive. Africa Media Online’s Mobile Digitisation Unit will be digitising the collection over the next two months

The International Library of African Music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, is known as one of the “greatest repositories of African music in the world.” Not only does the archive contain field recordings from as early as the 1930s, it also contains up to 8,000 images taken by Hugh Tracey, his son, professor emeritus Andrew Tracey and other researchers and photographers.
Africa Media Online’s Mobile Digitisation Unit relocated to Grahamstown this past weekend to begin cataloguing and digitising these images and capturing associated meta-data as part of a preservation project funded by South Africa’s Africa’s National Heritage Council.
In 2006 Africa Media Online assisted ILAM Director, Professor Diane Thram, in creating the funding proposal which led to the awarding of a National Heritage Council grant to catalogue and preserve ILAM’s photographic and film collections. As part of the digitisation process, a selection of the most usable images will be made and copies of them retouched and keyworded using the African Archival Thesaurus. They will then be made available to a global audience online on ILAM’’s MEMAT powered web site.
Africa Media Online’s Director, David Larsen, says, “We consider it a great privilege to be working with Professor Thram and her team in what is a vital project in the preservation of African heritage. We are grateful to the National Heritage Council for taking the initiative to preserve such an essential resource for future generations.” Prof. Thram says, “I wish to heartily thank the South African National Heritage Council for the enabling funding and Africa Media Online for their dedicated cooperation in planning and now executing the essential work of making ILAM’s historic collection of images of sub-Saharan Africa available to the world.
5. South African photographer, David Goldblatt, wins prestigious honorary fellowship

Hugh Masekela, soon after his return to South Africa in the 1980s. Photograph: David Goldblatt Hugh Masekela,soon after his return to South Africa. music Photograph David Goldbatt/South

In a ceremony on October 4, South African photographer, David Goldblatt is to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society. The prestigious award is only presented to up to eight photographers a year. Goldblatt is South Africa’s most awarded photographer. Last year he won the world’s most prestigious photographic award, The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. Goldblatt’s work is represented by Africa Media Online on as part of the South Photos archive. The Royal Photographic Society’s Honorary Fellowships are “awarded to distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof.”