Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Working with Photos

4 pictures = 4000 words, right?
At work, I'm going through photos from the summer's archaeology field season and plugging them into the final report.  I need to review the photos, because there is still writing and analysis that needs to be done for most of the sites and the photographic record is an important part of understanding and reporting the sites.  While I'm doing that review, I figured I might as well pop some of the photos into the report at the same time. I like watching the page number go up on the report and this is one of the easier ways to make that happen.

Recording photos
Of the thousands of photos that I took this summer, about 725 made it into the official photolog.  In the field, the photolog was a little white survey book that we recorded the photo number, date, site, direction, camera used, photo description and photographer's initials.  On rain days that information was entered into a spreadsheet and all of the photos in the photolog were stored in a single folder (backed up in many locations, of course).  These photos are technical photos that show some aspect of the sites, features, or artifacts that we felt were important to record and preserve.

The notes that go in the photo log are invaluable.  Without the notes, would I remember that this pile of rocks is a cache and that this is the view of them facing northwest?  Probably not.

Digging through the photolog
Now I'm going through the photolog and winnowing it down again to find the photos that best illustrate the sites for the final report.  These photos, along with maps, tables and text will be the record of the sites.  For newly discovered sites, they will be useful in relocating the sites in future years and in the case of mitigated sites, they are the final record of how the sites appeared before, during, and after excavation.  Archaeological excavation is a destructive process so its important to keep good records as you work.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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