Ye Olde Linoleum Shoppe

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING FOR ARCHAEOLOGISTS No. 4

SITE PHOTOGRAPHY (with an aside salad about the 'Observer Effect.')

We, my brothers and sisters, are truly inhabiting a golden age of archaeological photography, digital formats and bigger lenses are now revealing heritage features heretofore invisible to the naked eye - take for example the Twin Barrows of Middleton - nobody ever dared to believe they would cop eyes on that fabled twosome, but photographic innovation, patience and depravity paid off in abundance. We will all sleep a little more soundly knowing those protected monuments are 100% bona fide (unlike for instance, the Double Hummocks of Davison - clever fakes if ever I saw them.)
Yes, the digital camera has revolutionised archaeological photography. Archaeologists are now free to take more blurry photos of meaningless crap than ever before. Truly these are halcyon days - but let us not throw out the bath-tub with the baby, let us not forget the old ways (the ways of the tinsmith and the alpenhorn) - dated technology still has much to offer us and, as an example of this, let us consider photo-booths when recording the detritus of past societies. 
Fig.1: The Humble Photobooth
The photo-booth method of site photography is reasonably straightforward, once a feature is excavated, cleaned and ready to be photographed (let us say a mid 13th century AD wattle fence perhaps?), the entire structure and the filth on which it resides is shoveled bodily into a bevy of wheelbarrows and transported to the nearest train station or supermarket (wherever the nearest booth is.) The agglomeration of mire is then thrun into the booth, coins slotted and 'bingo' you get four passport sized photos of the offending feature.
This method also obviates the need for a site spoil heap (or it's related expense,) just scarper with your photos and afterwards let the supermarket employees deal with the filth.
If old Henri Cartier-Bresson were not snoring in Abraham's bosom he would surely applaud this endearing innovation!
Huzzah for you! Huzzah for me!
Fig.2: Archaeology Recorded According to Current Market Forces.
The archaeological use of cameras attached to kites to capture aerial photos (KAP- Kite Aerial Photography) has been well documented of late and this use of a child's toy married with cutting edge photographic technology has also led onto a new sub-genre of archaeological site photography known as 'See-Saw Aerial Photocopying' (SSAP.) 
SSAP has been used very successfully on many European Archaeological excavations - it's recent popularity stemming largely from the method's ability to completely negate the Observer Effect (more on this below.)
Fig.3: Removez-vous la lidde de la photoquopier et merci bien!
The process begins by borrowing a photocopier (from someone you don't respect) and removing the lid with a well aimed claw hammer. This completes the primary phase of the exercise. Phase two begins with obtaining a heavy weight of some description (nothing less than 20 stone,) constructing a makeshift seesaw and then assembling all elements as shown in the vignette below (fig.4)
Fig.4. Le Garcon Lardon est tres Politiquement Incorrect
Now allow me to briefly digress and explainthrough use of the principle of surprise SSAP nullifies the problem of the 'Observer Effect' (id est: by examining/recording a phenomenon you cause it to alter/change.) SSAP photographically records through swift unorthodox ambush and documents features before they realise what is happening, thereby not allowing them enough time to metamorphose. Exempli Gratia: a mid 13th century AD wattle fence will not have time to turn into Gary Numan (as they so often do - and I don't mind telling you I've had it up to my twin barrows finding him stretched out butt-naked in the mud before me.)
Alors to return to our methode - the xerox machine is set to approximately one hundred copies and the weight dropped smartly onto the see-saw. See fig.5.
Fig.5: Et Allez-Oop!
The photocopier then whirls into the air in a graceful half-moon trajectory and (if you have marshalled the union of see-saw/xerox/metabolically-challenged-person correctly) the copier should land face down on the unsuspecting feature flashing away merrily.
Et voila! The wattle is briskly mugged, retains it wattological morphology (albeit slightly flattened) and an A4 copy of it wafts shrewdly out to the adulation of dead photographers everywhere!!
As a final note SSAP occasionally can misfire, sending the copier in an unexpected orbit. See Fig. 6 below for a good example.


Fig.6 Mr. J. Demimonde. Site Safety Officer. His hard hat wasn't worth a shit.

Sleep Well My Pretties!

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I am a descended from a long line of conga dancers. I occasionally wear shoes. I gave up going to the toilet twenty years ago - it's a filthy habit. I have a pet bunny called Mucky - he's a filthy rabbit.

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