This Blog is the companion to my Flickr website of type, historiated initials, illustrations and early modern bookdesign. It serves as an index to all material published there and shows the ‘work in progress’ – the rough material I publish so that people can take a look at it – otherwise it might take years to publish it. I have found that designers use the Flickr site as a source of inspiration.
There is also another website geared to scholars: typograaf.com. That is also a ‘work in progress’ but in a different way. There eventually the source for every image will be accounted for and we are slowly expanding the possibilities to search.
Why two websites?
Flickr and WordPress are cheap for what they offer. In time both Flickr and WordPress have become more sophisticated and I am curious how they will expand in the near future. They are easy to use and their flexibilty suits me. This is the work I do in the evenings when I do no want to write or read or watch a movie. I organize the photos en send them to Flickr. Then follows the indexing.
Typograaf is a custom made system and as such costs money. It was financed by NWO. I hope to add more features in the near future: image recognition, Iconclass metadata and so on. Better for scholars but more difficult and less flexible for me to work on. It has some unique features that I like very much. But it requires a lot of encoding that costs a lot of time and I think that a few years from now the computer will do this for me.
All three websites are made possible by the A D & L Foundation and the Allard Pierson Special Collections and Museum. It is supported by the Chair for the History of the Book.
The lens I use most, a beautiful Zeiss macro, was paid by the Printing Historical Society. I hope they like the use I make of it.
But you, the reader of this text is the most important of all. When I started with my Flickr website I expected to cater for the few friends who care about the kind of research I love to do. After 8 years it reached almost 3.000.000 pageviews. I expect that this number will grow with this blog. Because so many people follow my work I work harder. It is as simple as that. Thank you!
What do I do? I take a book, any 16th century book, and take pictures: the shelfnumber, the titlepage, all initials and ornaments, specimens of the type, traces of use – anything that interests me. To do this I use three cameras: A Sony Nex 6 with a Sony macro, and two Fuji X cameras with a 35mm fuji lens and a 50mm Zeiss Touit. Sometimes I take a printer, another time a year, an author or a subject. I take photos of about 100 books each week. For the macrophotos I designed a simple stand so the distance to the page is always the same. This makes the rest of the processing easy. It is possible to make 300-600 photos in a few hours, depending on the book.
I used a Macbook pro with Photoshop to process the images. That took 40 seconds for eacht image. Now I use an iPad pro and that reduced the time to process an image to 4-6 seconds. Uploading is something I can do while reading. And that is it. In time – three to four years or so – I hope that image recognition will be that good that I can trust my computer to name the images, sort them and add descriptions to them. I am experimenting a little with Flickr and Iconclass but adding descriptions to them is simply to much work for one man although I am experimenting with it to speed this process.
By the end of 2017 I expect to have at least 150.000 images available. Let us see how it works out! If you want to know how it goes, follow this blog.