Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kodak, Panama and Australia’s First People

Barro Colorado

We had all heard that Tito helped the Smithsonian Institution’s research station on an island in Gatun Lake, Panama. My father-in-law, a Kodak man, started his career in his native Panama at their Tropical Labs. A chemist, he became an authority on the preservation and restoration of film products in tropical climates. The primary problem was fungus growth.

View of the Biological Lab. buildings, 1950 (Smithsonian Institue Archives)

Barro Colorado is an island formed when Gatun Lake was created as a water supply for the operation of the canal. The island, thus provided a preserved habitat. In 1924 a natural history lab. was founded. This would later become the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

The photo shows Barro Colorado Island Lab. buildings and dock from Gatun Lake. The tramway to the top of the island is visible.

It was the 1960s and sometimes on Saturdays he and his eldest daughter (and my connection to the family) would visit the island. She remembers these pleasant boat trips to the island, with its Howler Monkey calls in the tropical forest, wandering tapirs, and iguanas taking in the sun.

Descriptions of all this have been aided over the years by photographic slides, projected after family get togethers. Many of the colored photos have faired well, but several have not (although in fairness, they may have been experimental rather than product films).

Staff members holding a large snake, c. 1960


Baird’s young tapir (L) and a coati-mundi (R)

Cleaning House

Well, Tito no longer needs the house, and it naturally fell to the family to clean things up for selling. A common story of a family’s accumulation in a home of fifty-plus years. Among the old text books, pre-prints from his articles (a form of pre-PDF personal archiving for publishing scientists) and patents, was a poster with a picture of two Australian aboriginal men.

Actually, what I saw first was an inscription from the photographer on the folded back of the poster. He thanked Tito for his help with fungus on his film negs.

Mr. Olivares,
I want to thank you for all your help with the problem of fungus on my film. It was you more than anyone else who made the present show possible. I am very grateful for what you did.


Exhibit poster

The photographer, Roger Manley, presented ‘Sullen Landscape, Australia Photographs’ in 1979 at the Davidson College Art Gallery, Davidson, North Carolina. Manley studied at Davidson College, after which he spent two years living in the Australian outback with an Aboriginal* tribe. He is currently director of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University.


Manley’s gracious note, the photos of Barro Colorado, and Tito’s subsequent visits to the Smithsonian in Wasington are reminders of the (pro bono) contributions made by an industrial scientist. At the time this was not that common, and not often encouraged. Good for him.

In the modern era, I would expect to see the results of such consulting to be more widely known. Perhaps described at IS&T conferences, and local university seminars. I have found such external (non-proprietary) projects, whether for institutions, international standards, or as adjunct faculty, have complemented my primary work. Spice of life, don’t you know.
* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

P.S. Tito was a member of IS&T, and published in the society journals.

Family photo on Barro Colorado (by Tito) over 30 years after earlier visits

On boat to the island in Gatun Lake, 1996

Postcard from Amsterdam


I attended the 2+3D Photography – Practice and Prophecies conference in May, held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.


Here is a video postcard, courtesy of Google Photos. The photos are largely unedited, some captured on film. The audio was recorded while walking around with my mobile phone, with simple editing also.

Here is the link to the two-minute video.  This will open in Google Photos – when it opens, CLICK to hear audio.

Click picture for link to video

Conference Presentations

Recently, the material for many of the conference presentations was posted.

Postcard from Riga

For those who attended the IS&T Archiving Conference last month, here is a souvenir postcard-video, courtesy of Google Photos. The photos are largely unedited, and are from my analogue (film) and digital cameras. Many of you will notice the different ‘look’.

There is probably an interesting story here

The audio was capture while walking around with my mobile phone, with simple editing also.

Here is the link to a 2 min. video. This will open in Google Photos – when it opens, CLICK to hear audio.

..and over here we have …

First Archiving Conference, Mariachi and Charrería (en español)

English language version  –  Todas las fotos tomadas en el día

El tema de un reciente programa de radio Latino USA fue el Tucson (Arizona) Rodeo, también conocido como La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros. Escuchar la historia de la familia y la competencia de sus 8 años me recordó una gran experiencia que tuve al asistir a la primera Conferencia de Archivos de IS&T en San Antonio, Texas. Esta serie de conferencias anuales continúa, y el próximo mes estaremos en Riga, Letonia.

Estábamos en San Antonio un par de días antes de la conferencia, e interesado en asistir a un servicio de iglesia mariachi domingo. En consejo de nuestro hotel, fuimos a Mission San José iglesia, 15 min. lejos. Disfrutamos de la música mariachi y masa en español. Durante los anuncios al final un artículo me llamó la atención. Una Charrería, debía celebrarse más tarde ese día cerca. No saber mucho acerca de esta exhibición local / competencia de equitación, decidimos verlo.

Charrería, o charreada, ha sido descrito como el abuelo del rodeo. Se originó con el español en América. Charros, jinetes mexicanos, adaptó las competiciones ecuestres de los españoles para producir un deporte exclusivamente mexicano. Se convirtieron en celebraciones para las comunidades, y las ocasiones de fin de semana para reunir a la familia y amigos.

Después de un par de giros equivocados (navegación por mapas impresos en ese entonces), encontramos la arena circular, con asientos de 7-8  asientos altos. Entrada sin pavimentar, polvorienta – ambiente organizado y amigable – caballos, y competidores en traje tradicional.

Recuerdo pensar que, aunque la congregación en la masa parecía ser alrededor del 30% turistas-visitantes (cámaras, libros de viaje), esta multitud parecía ser principalmente locales. Y qué lujo  fue!

Impresiones de memoria,

  • Chicos en botas y sombreros ayudando con la puerta de la arena
  • Anuncios de eventos y patrocinio de empresas alternando entre lenguas
  • Entradas galopantes, paradas rápidas, giros coordinados y trabajo con cuerdas
  • Caballos marchando hacia atras
  • Competidores como un médico local digno, y muchachos y muchachas jóvenes aplaudidos por sus familias y amigas.

Aprendimos sobre las misiones y el desarrollo temprano de la Hispanoamérica ese día, pero lo que más recuerdo es la diversión en la Charrería. (Para mí, las chicas jóvenes que aparecen abajo robaron el espectáculo – Preciosas!)

El curso corto y el presentación de nosotros en la primera conferencia de IS&T Archiving fue bastante bien también. Además, las imágenes de cámaras digitales de consumo proporcionan una buena medida de las mejoras que a menudo damos por sentado.

Hay cosas aprendidas en el camino

Reflexive Citation: Taking your published work seriously

While attending recent imaging conference, a friend told me about a recent website posting on a topic familiar to me. We had previously discussed some of the normal levels of permission needed for posting by this US government cultural institution, so it was good to see. The posted information included software and links to supporting documents, including a paper presented at a conference I had attended.

I checked the links to the software file, manual and conference paper which reported on the method used. All links intact – good so far. However, when I viewed the posted version of the published conference paper something important was missing, the original publication, date, etc. Later, checking on other posted conference papers, I found several more examples.

Background: Many conferences* publish books, e.g. Proceedings of Annual River Wideners Conf. 1972. These proceedings books are published and copyrighted by the organizing society or group. In some cases, the authors are allowed to post their conference articles on their own websites. I am only addressing such permitted posting.

Posting: Back to the example I was looking at. The institution’s webpage had a link to the posted article (a PDF File). The hypertext was the article’s title only. The version of the posted article, however, had no indication of where or when it had been presented or published – reducing the chance that others would cite it in their publications.

Citation is attribution, even if it is your own work

Suggestion to Authors: masthead, nameplate or footer

Newspapers (please …) normally have a header that tells the reader the publication they are reading. This is often called the nameplate. Academic journals also have this in either a page header or footer, with page number etc.

Include reflexive citation: So if you are posting your published contributions online, increase the chance for others to read and cite your work by adding a reflexive citation in the header or footer. You probably uploaded a version for the proceedings book that did not have this information because pagination and such is done when assembling the book. Just add the citation to your version – you have the original (word processor) file.

There is probably another term for this. I am reminded of those reflexive verbs and pronouns we learnt when studying foreign languages (e.g., I feed myself /Je me nourris, I see myself / Yo me veo, or is it just, me veo) that we were unaware of in our native tongue. But we can teach ourselves no?

File under: RefCit
* While I am generally not in favour of including gratuitous pictures of AE in social media, this one seems appropriate, being from a famous conference on physics in 1927. Authors from this conference did not post their papers on-line, so did not need to add a reflexive citation.

EI02: Introduction to Image Quality Testing: Targets, Software, and Standards

EI02: Introduction to Image Quality Testing: Targets, Software, and Standards

Short Course at IS&T’s Electronic Imaging Symposium, San Francisco 29 Jan. 2017

Instructors: Peter Burns, Burns Digital Imaging, and Don Williams, Image Science Associates
8:00 – 10:00 AM (2 hours)
Course Level: Introductory
Fee: Member fee*: $165 / Non-member fee: $195 / Student fee: $60 *(after January 9, 2017 prices for all courses increase by $50, $25 for students). To register for symposium and/or short course. Early registration date, 9 Jan. 2017.

An introduction to  imaging performance evaluation for image capture, providing a foundation for more advanced topics, e.g., system characterization and performance benchmarking. We adopt a scenario-based approach by describing several situations where imaging performance needs evaluation. Each of these, from design to quality assurance for manufacturing, is addressed in terms of suggested methods, color test charts, and standard reporting. For several important attributes, we describe international standards, guidelines, and current best practice. Examples are drawn from various applications, including consumer, museum, mobile, and clinical imaging. We will help participants to;

  • Understand the difference between imaging performance and image quality.
  • Describe performance standards, guidelines, and current best practices.
  • Understand how color-encoding, image resolution, distortion, and noise are evaluated.
  • Compare various commercial analysis software products and (color, resolution) test charts.
  • Select evaluation methods and test targets to meet your project needs.
  • Identify sources of system variability and understand measurement error.

Intended Audience: This course is intended for a wide audience: image scientists, quality engineers, and others evaluating digital camera and scanner performance. No background in imaging performance (optical distortion, color-error, MTF, etc.) evaluation will be assumed.

Instructors:  Peter Burns is a consultant working in imaging system evaluation, modeling, and image processing. Don Williams is founder of Image Science Associates. Both are frequent presenters at technical imaging conferences.

Information on all EI 2017 Courses
NOTE: Students who register for EI before the early registration deadline receive one complementary short course with their symposium fee.

Electronic Imaging 2017 in SF

Coming up at the end of January  IS&T’s Electronic Imaging Symposium 2017. Having participated in the organising and presented over the years, the meeting provides a an opportunity to connect with a rather large group of friends, former colleagues, and clients. The meeting includes several tracks of 2-3 day topical conferences, spanning a wide range of interests. I participate mostly in the IQSP Conference – chairing a session on Tuesday, 31 Jan.

Image Quality and System Performance Conference (IQSP):  Our sessions are described here.

 Short Courses:
Don Williams and I will be presenting a short course, Introduction to Image Quality Testing: Targets, Software, and Standards on 29 Jan. 2017. We introduce imaging performance evaluation and provide a foundation for more advanced topics, e.g., system characterization and performance benchmarking. 

Our two-hour course is intended to complement other courses held later in the day;

  • EI09: Color and Calibration in Mobile Imaging Devices, Uwe Artmann
  • EI11: Introduction to the EMVA1288 Standard, Armaud Darmont
  • EI12: Psychophysics Lab: In Depth and Step-by-Step, Stephen Viggiano

Consider joining us in San Francisco.

– Peter Burns

Electronic Imaging Symposium 2017: Invitation


I&T’s Electronic Imaging Symposium 2017 will be held 29 January – 2 February, 2017 near San Francisco, and is now accepting submissions to present and publish your work. There are many conferences within this symposium covering a wide range of topics. The submission deadline is 4 July 2016.

The invitation to participate in the Image Quality and System Performance Conference (IQSP) is here.

As you will see, suggested topics include three general areas

  • Image quality objective and subjective evaluation
  • Performance measurement and modeling
  • Standards for image quality and system performance

Joint sessions with IQSP are planned for three other conferences,

More information on other conferences within the symposium is available here

Citizens, not subjects: Jefferson, France* and expired passports

I recently chaired an IS&T Archiving 2016 conference session on Advanced Imaging Techniques. My role included introducing Fanella France, US Library of Congress, presenting Spectral Imaging for Preservation Documentation. An example cited was the discovery that in the US Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson had originally used the word subjects, but changed this to citizens. The interpretation being that Americans would not be subjects of the crown, but a people (citizens) whose allegiance was to one another.

Later that morning, I mentioned this and suggested that perhaps conference attendees from Commonwealth** countries might like to check which they are considered. I intended this as a light-hearted comment, the type that session chairs make as people shuffle back from a coffee break. Conference proceeds – considered successful – splendid time had at NARA. Little did I know … 

Your papers, please …

A few of days after the conference, visiting my parents, while looking in a sock drawer, I discovered several expired family passports for my mother and her father. Having looked at the stamped visas and the passport holder information (expected, but still interesting), I happened to notice the front covers. Curious that my maternal grandfather’s 1961 Australian passport had the title; British Passport, and below the crest, Australia. Mum’s more recent 1979 passport simply said Australia Passport. Both also had the royal crown insignia, but a 1985 version did not. What’s all this?


Expired passport for Fred, aka Pa, issued in 1961

After a simple search one learns that in 1967, the word British Passport was removed from Australian passports, but the Crown was kept. The word Australia appeared below the Crown, followed by the Australian Coat of Arms and the word Passport. The crown was removed in 1984.

I learned a few things from Archiving 2016 that I had not anticipated, but that is part of the fun, isn’t it?

p.s. I found some UK ration books and a travel journal, but these stories are for another time.


*With apologies to Dr. Fanella France –  I could not resist since Mr. Jefferson was United States Minister to France (which most of you reading this far will  already know)

** Commonwealth of Nations: the pink bits on globes and maps of my youth