Work

Photography


Francis initially carried out this work with ten 100-watt incandescent bulbs, a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera and a range of lenses, but he quickly upgraded to a Contax 167MT 35mm body with a variety of fixed focal length Carl Zeiss lenses and a set of Lowell Tota lights with umbrellas. The majority of the images on this website were produced with the latter equipment and photographed on Fujichrome 64T [16953].     16953
Most object photography is done on a copystand with a neutral gray paper background. Light comes from a single source bounced into a silver umbrella with a white reflector used to fill the shadows. Small and medium size objects are photographed with a Carl Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar lens.    
Lighting painted plaster wall decoration is straightforward. Tota lights are bounced into umbrellas that are placed on stands to the left and right of the camera. Four lights are used when the area being photographed cannot be lit evenly with two. Francis tries to keep the variation of light in a scene within two-tenths of a stop.    
Lighting decoration in raised or sunk relief is a more complicated affair. Francis lights the scene from the left whenever possible using a black "flag" close to the lamp in order to cut the amount of light hitting the scene closest to the source. He uses a white reflector to fill the far side of the scene opposite the light source. This has occasionally resulted in a subtle color shift from a yellow cast nearest the source, to a whitish cast nearest the reflector. He only uses a reflector when the fall off is more than a half a stop. The larger the area in the frame of the camera the more difficult the scene is to light evenly and still show the relief.    
In addition to his duties in KV 5, Francis has taken to the skies and shot additional balloon photography for the Theban Mapping Project. He also began to document the decoration and architecture of other royal tombs in the Valley and Theban Temples using an ARCA Swiss 4"x5" view camera [13470]. Due to the prohibitive cost of film and time needed to work in this format, it was decided to return to 35mm format, although Francis managed to produce about 200 superb 4" x 5" chromes of various sites on the West Bank.     13470
There is equipment that would make the task of photographing tombs easier but due to budget constraints, the Theban Mapping Project has been unable to purchase it. There are very few general views of tomb interiors. The widest lens we have is a 25mm making tight spaces extremely difficult if not impossible to photograph. This has limited the TMP's ability to obtain general views of tomb interiors. High power strobes in combination with light controls such as grids for reflectors and soft boxes would open up a realm of possibilities as well. The task of lighting 30 meter (100 foot) corridors without such equipment is daunting.    
In libraries in Luxor and Cairo, Francis has also been shooting copyslides of paintings, drawings and photographs from historical publications of the Theban West Bank. These are being combined with modern imagery to get a diachronic perspective of the sites [12575, 11809]. Currently we have about 2,000 historical images in our database that allow us to see the Valley of the Kings and its tombs as they were ten, twenty, fifty, even one hundred years ago. Photographs of tomb walls taken at intervals over the last century allow us to track changes in the condition of their decoration and structure and better prepare for their conservation [16944, 15621]. Photographs of the landscape allow us to track incursions of agriculture, habitation, or roadways into the archaeological zone and to identify potential threats to West Bank monuments.     12575 11809 16944 15621
Francis processes the 35mm transparency film he shoots in a darkroom in the Theban Mapping Project office in Cairo and mounts the film in Gepe glassless slide mounts. All slides are assigned an arbitrary, five-digit image reference number, and then scanned in a Supercool Nikon LS-2000 with a SF-200 auto slide feeder. Approximately forty slides can be automatically scanned and saved to the hard drive this way. All transparencies are scanned at 2,700 ppi at 100% and saved as tiff files which are then saved on a CD that is assigned an arbitrary, four digit, digital location number. Photoshop is then used to batch process the tiff files, compressing them to 30-k jpeg files that are then entered into the Theban Mapping Project's image database [17816].     17816
Once these photographs are in digital format and recorded in the database, it becomes possible to share them with the entire world through this website. The vast majority of the Theban Mapping Project's images of the Valley of the Kings shot by Francis have been cropped, color corrected and sharpened for inclusion on this website. The Theban Mapping Project intends to continue to obtain photographs of the Theban memorial temples, the Valley of the Queens and the noble's tombs in the same manner, and retrospective conversion of older Theban Mapping Project imagery of the Valley of the Kings and other sites to digital format has begun. It is hoped that eventually photographic imagery of these other sites will be combined with textual material on our website to produce a comprehensive and accurate record of the Theban West Bank.    

Published or last modified on: December 18, 2002
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