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Above: Mimosa Mall, Bloemfontein: In the rush and glitz of Christmas it is easy to forget the child born into poverty in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago who, without an army or any political, community or religious position, has impacted centuries of history and billions of lives

Welcome to the third 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: interpolation
2. National Heritage Council applauds digitisation of World’s foremost African music archive
3. Struik Publishing invests in digital imaging training
4. Africans feature on the 2008 World Press Photo jury
5. Reinhardt Hartzenberg, Picture Editor

Building an Archive that will last: Interpolation

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Participants in the Practical Digital Workflow masterclass are taken through the essentials of digital imaging step by step

The africanpictures.net Imaging Standards Document outlines image quality for professional markets and archival preservation. In the last edition we dealt with file size, now we want to look at the related subject of interpolation. Interpolation is a means of “bumping up” the file size of an image. Although this practice should be avoided on the whole, as it is a compromise in the image quality, it does prove useful for designers who need a very large image for a bill board or display poster.

To interpolate an image, a software package such as Photoshop will simply invent more pixels. The problem of course, is that the software does not know what the picture ought to be and so if there is a black pixel sitting next to a white pixel, the software will simply insert pixels in between with colour gradients that step through shades of grey from black to white. This works to a point, but if you push it too far the image becomes fuzzy and blurred. There are software packages, however, which do a better job at this than most. Probably the best known is Genuine Fractals which now claims to be able to enlarge an image up to 1000% without any loss in quality.

In terms of building a picture collection that is going to stand the test of time, the best is to use no interpolation at all. The principle is that you want to create an archive that is at best quality and most useful for being repositioned to any use. Interpolation is best left to the end user. Even if the image you are supplying to an end users is too small for her need, the advantage of sticking to the zero interpolation standard is that the end user can be sure that they are having to interpolate an image that has already been interpolated.

2. National Heritage Council applauds digitisation of World’s foremost African music archive

AMO ILAM Team

The Africa Media Online team at the International Library of African Music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown at the start of the digitisation project. In the first phase of the project the team scanned all the pictures and captured related metadata. The second phase will involve the creation of a MEMAT powered web site and the selection, retouching, keywording and loading online of 1,000 of the images

Africa Media Online has been undertaking the digitisation of the photographic collections of the International Library of African Music in Grahamstown funded by the National Heritage Council. Warara Kakaza from Leap Digital, who are the project auditors for the National Heritage Council, visited the project and had this to say afterwards in a brief telephone conversation with Africa Media Online’s Director David Larsen:

David Larsen: Having visited the ILAM project what is your perspective?

Warara Kakaza: We are happy and satisfied with the progress. We could see visible things that you could touch and feel and we were quite excited when we left. The work looks like it will be finished even before the planned timeline. Professor Diane Thram was on the ball and we also spoke with Melinda [AMO's metadata capture team leader]. We also interacted with Reinhardt [AMO's picture editor]. We are very happy with the way things are going. We also spoke with Ian [AMO's product manager] telephonically and I gave him quite specific feedback to say we were quite happy. I think what really made us happy were the kind of opportunities that that project has. Even after the NHC funding is gone there is big potential and tremendous opportunity and not only for South Africa but also for the whole continent. It really made us feel so good.

David Larsen: Did you feel it was well managed?

Warara Kakaza: Yes well managed… In fact I also made a comment to say that of all the… Because we go through all these files that the NHC has and of all the proposals we have gone through your proposal was the most well put together proposal. It was so clear exactly what you are going to do. It is so easy to measure. It is so easy to see, to monitor and evaluate it, to see whether things are happening or not happening. It was so professionally prepared and it made our work very easy… The fact that even the public will have access on the web site made us feel that we will always have access and generations to come will have access to that information. We were very happy!

3. Struik Publishing invests in digital imaging training

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Construction cranes against the night sky at Cape Town International airport

The digital revolution has placed many of the tasks, once confined to specialists in the repro houses, into the hands of photographers, designers and dtp operators. One of the foremost publishing houses in South Africa, Struik Publishers recognised the need for staff to be well equipped in this area and invited Africa Media Online’s Director, David Larsen, in to deliver a one day Digital Imaging Essentials masterclass to over 20 staff members in early November. A wide range of staff including picture editors, designers, photographers and IT personnel clearly benefitted from the course giving it an average score of 9.58 out of a possible 10.

Africa Media Online is finding many organisations are asking for this kind of training. Arlene Gippert from Struik is more than happy to respond to anyone who would like to know how this course helped her staff arlene@striuk.co.za

4. Africans Feature on the 2008 World Press Photo Jury

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Artistic Director, Simon Njami, addresses dignitaries at the launch of the 2005 Bamako Biennale, Bamako, Mali

South Africa’s Jodi Bieber and Cameroon’s Simon Njami feature on the panel of the 2008 World Press Photo Awards. Jodi is a product of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and has won eight World Press Photo awards. Simon Njami is editor-in-chief of Revue Noire and has been artistic director of the Bamako photography biennale since 2001. He has curated numerous exhibitions of African art and photography, including Africa Remix, which is touring the world and is currently in South Africa.

If you are wanting to submit, the deadline is Thursday, 10 January 2008, 23.59 Central European Time. The easiest way to submit is via the new online system. A number of us used it last year and it was a whole lot easier that packaging CDs and application forms. Here is the link: https://submit.worldpressphoto.nl/

The World Press Photo newsletter asked jury chairman Gary Knight for some tips on the best way to select submissions for the 2008 contest. He said “A story or portfolio will be better received if it contains a limited number of strong, intelligently sequenced images. Don’t feel you have to make up the maximum number of 12. Weak images in an otherwise strong body of work may condemn the whole essay to the wastebasket. As for single pictures, demonstrate some judgment in your selection of strong images. And please remember that we are here to judge, not to edit.”

5. Reinhardt Hartzenberg, new Picture Editor

Reinhardt Hartzenberg

With a background in fine art photography, Reinhardt Hartzenberg joined Africa Media Online as Picture Editor in May

Reinhardt Hartzenberg is an M-Tech Photography (Cum Laude) graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology. His most significant contribution to African photography to date is that he was the founder and is the current editor of the South African Journal of Photography. He also opened the Imaging Hub Photographic Gallery in Pretoria, in order to raise awareness of Fine Art photography in South Africa. Reinhardt is passionate about the future of African photography. Reinhardt joined Africa Media Online in May 2007 as Picture Editor.

A Joyful Christmas and a New Year Full of Hope

Africa Media Online Staff

Africa Media Online staff members who attended a recent Christmas celebration

From all of us at Africa Media Online we want to wish you and your family a joy filled Christmas and a safe New Year. Thank you for your support and interest in what we are doing over the past year and we look forward to interacting with you in 2008, a year filled with destiny!

Our office will be closed from December 21, 2007 and will reopen on January 2, 2008.

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