The Lamont Poets project

Since 1983, the Academy’s Lamont Poetry Program has been inviting poets to come and read their work to the entire local community, as well as personally meeting with students. Beginning with the second invited poet, it also became a tradition to have them write a poem to be framed along with their portrait. Our latest digitization project is a celebration of these portraits and handwritten poems.

The framed works, which reside in the Library’s Special Collections, were a challenge to digitize. Because they’re matted, under glass, and rest in frames with at least an eighth of an inch lip, flatbed scanning didn’t work well on our test image. The light had to penetrate two sheets of glass to reach the images, giving us a scan that was blurry and had very noticeable visual “noise.” Correcting such noise in Photoshop is a time-consuming process.

In the end, we decided to use our copystand, which is essentially a flat platform, two bright lights, and a pillar for mounting a camera. Each framed piece was photographed twice (once for the portrait, once for the poem). We straightened, cropped, and tonally corrected 115 images. We also had to edit out the reflection of the camera in the glass (we’ll use a physical solution for this next time – live and learn).

It took a while to get these images on the web, but we’re pleased with the final results, which you can see here.