Leading Lights: World Class Lighting for Heritage Collections

In January 2016 we had the privilege of working with The Brenthurst Library for a week digitizing a rare collection of papers of the last Commander of the Dutch garrison in the Cape, Robert Jacob Gordon. The project was a collaboration between The Brenthurst Library and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum have Gordon’s paintings and digitization offers the opportunity to bring the whole collection together without having to move the originals.

Africa Media Online at the Brenthurst Library digitizing the Gordon papers as part of a collaboration between The Brenthurst and the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. We had just recently invested in a Phase One XF camera with IQ3 digital back (seen here syspended above my colleague Nkanyiso Ngcobo) and Broncolor lighting. The Gordon project was the ideal project to work on as the Rijks Museum required conformance to Metamorfoze standards. Our Broncolor Scoro E power pack with two Pulso G 3200J lamps provided beautifully consistent lighting.

To do this, though, the work needed to be done at the highest standards of color fidelity. The Rijksmuseum are using the new European standard developed by Hans van Dolmoren called Metamorfoze. The Metamorfoze standard sets the minimum parameters for the capture of digital manuscripts where one needs to not only preserve the information contained in the manuscript, but the appearance of the manuscript itself as it was at the point in time it was captured. An essential element in this, apart from creating a custom profile that matches exactly to the capture target used, is bang-on consistent lighting.

For some time we have been looking for a lighting system that is geared for the colour consistency needed when digitizing natural and cultural history collections. While in New York last November I had the privilege of interacting with Jeff Hirsch from Fotocare who advises many of the large cultural heritage institutions in New York including The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He pointed me in the direction of Broncolor, the World’s leading lighting system when it comes to colour fidelity. After investigating various systems, we realized that if we are going to be capturing the most significant collections in Africa, we needed to invest in the best when it comes to lighting. So we took the leap and invested in the Broncolor Scoro E 3200 RFS power pack with two Pulso G 3200J lamps.

One of our two Broncolor Pulso G 3200J lamps. Swiss company Broncolor is the World’s leading lighting company when it comes to consistent colour temperature, which is why many heritage institutions have invested in their system.

Broncolor uses a unique patented technology called Enhanced Colour Temperature Control (ECTC) that ensures the constant color temperature so critical in capturing cultural history collections like that of the Brenthurst Library. It certainly did not disappoint in the Gordon project, producing beautifully consistent lighting right across the entire collection.
The staff at the Brenthurst Library certainly expressed delight at the results. Apart from being pleased with the quality and consistency of the results, Jennifer Kimble, the Brenthurst Library’s point person on the project spoke of Africa Media Online’s involvement in the project saying: “They worked quickly and efficiently with good results. I liked their work methodology, they handled the manuscripts with the care they required and met the standards as requested. I was very impressed with the overall service and will recommend them to similar institutions.”