A Hands-on Seminar on “Documentation and Database Compilation of Cultural Properties An Introductory Guide to Photographing of Cultural Properties—A Practical Course of Photographing for Documentation of Cultural Properties Organized at the Tohoku History Museum

Explanation of the point of attention in taking a picture of ishari
Hands-on practice of shooting spouted pottery
Hands-on practice of shooting shimacho

 Documentation of cultural properties aims to obtain information needed to conduct research on cultural properties, and to protect or utilize them. In particular, photographs convey detailed information that words alone are unable to express fully, and by setting the appropriate shooting conditions, more information can be conveyed.
 We organized a seminar on practical photographing for documentation of cultural properties with the title above, which was targeted at the staff of member museums of the Liaison Council of Museums in Miyagi Prefecture, at the Tohoku History Museum (Tagajo City, Miyagi Prefecture) on March 12th, 2021. Co-hosted by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), the Tohoku History Museum, and the liaison council, the seminar was the liaison council’s second workshop during fiscal year 2020. During the seminar, measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 were taken, such as requiring participants to wear masks and ensuring social distancing and ventilation.
 Following a lecture in the morning, hands-on practice of taking pictures of a variety of objects in the collection of the Tohoku History Museum, such as spouted pottery in the Late Jomon Period, ishari, a traditional lure for catching octopuses, and shimacho (a swatch book of stripe-patterned kimono fabrics), was conducted under the guidance of SHIRONO Seiji, an artificer at TOBUNKEN. All participants in the hands-on practice were requested to bring a camera with them and other equipment, such as lights and reflector boards, was provided by the museum. In the practice, we emphasized the importance of handling light. All the techniques were applicable using an existing or inexpensive device; one example was eliminating deep shadows that inhibit observation by illuminating the target object by projecting the light on a reflector board, which was hand-made by the staff at the museum. Participants worked on the practice with keen interest and many of them commented that they hoped to share what they learned with their colleagues or to use the techniques acquired in their work.
 Let us take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone at the co-host organizations and all the participants that provided us with many useful suggestions. We hope to continue to organize seminars by taking advantage of this experience.

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