Note on Photographic Facsimiles, Manuscript Revelation Books

No matter the care put into transcribing a text, a gap still remains between the reader and the physical document. The use of photographic facsimiles in this volume narrows that gap but does not eliminate it. This note explains how these photographs were created and prepared for publication and identifies some of their limitations
Creating the Photographs
The textual photographs herein were created specifically for this publication and its web counterpart by Welden C. Andersen, a lead photographer for the Audiovisual Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Andersen used a Hasselblad H3DII-39 multishot camera equipped with a Hasselblad HC 120mm f4 macro lens. By taking a sequence of four photographs, each offset by an increment of one pixel, this camera captures red, green, and blue data for every pixel, whereas a single-shot camera records only one color per pixel. The four-shot technology therefore captures much more detail. The lens is optimized for extremely close focusing, allowing for images of documents that can resolve to the level of individual fibers of the paper. Each digital image produced by the camera comprises approximately 229 megabytes of information. Though the resolution of these images must be reduced significantly for print publication, the Joseph Smith Papers Project retains the original full-resolution files, which will allow textual researchers to view extremely detailed electronic images. Indeed, a primary purpose for creating these photographs was to minimize the need for researchers to consult the original documents.
As illustrated in figure 1, during photography the ledger books were positioned on a low, leveled table. Studio lights diffused by a fabric screen were used to illuminate the subject, and a computer was attached to the camera to process and store the images. To avoid having to repeatedly reposition the camera and lighting, Andersen photographed recto pages first, followed by verso pages. Because of concern for the bindings of the books and in order to lay the pages as flat as possible, the books were positioned on the table with one cover flat on the surface and the other cover opened slightly more than ninety degrees and resting on a prop. The camera was positioned about four feet above the table on a camera stand (the camera was temporarily lowered for the photograph in figure 1, in which it can be seen in the upper right corner). Andersen hand-focused each photograph from a ladder and then remotely triggered the shutter. After ensuring the quality of the first image on the computer monitor, he made a second exposure to create a security backup copy for each image.
Andersen followed standard professional procedures to achieve the highest accuracy in color, tone, contrast, and exposure. Before photographing each book and any time he adjusted lighting, exposure, or document angle, he calibrated and corrected color using a color test card and color adjustment software. This eliminated any bias of the camera sensor and the light source, meaning that the colors captured in the photographs are as close as possible to the colors of the documents as they exist today.
Fig. 1. Welden C. Andersen with the equipment he used to create the textual photographs in this volume. Revelation Book 1 is open on the table with a color test card on the page.
Because of tight binding within some of the gatherings in Revelation Book 1, manuscript pages 73, 91, 93, 95, 181, 183, 185, 187, and 189 would not lie sufficiently flat without assistance. An archivist used a microspatula to hold down these pages while they were being photographed (see figure 2). The spatula did not obscure any text, but in the images presented in this volume it has been digitally removed and the small area of paper underneath the spatula has been digitally cloned from the surrounding paper.
Fig. 2. Manuscript page 93 of Revelation Book 1 and eight other pages in that volume were held flat by a microspatula for photography. The spatula was digitally removed from the images published in this volume.
Preparing the Photographs for Print Publication
Charles M. Baird, a prepress specialist with the Materials Management Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, prepared the images for printing. Following standard prepress methods, Baird reduced the images to fit the page size in this volume at a resolution of approximately 300 dpi and converted the images from the color format stored by the camera (red, green, and blue) to the colors used in printing (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). While converting color, Baird frequently consulted the original documents to ensure that the color proofs matched the original documents as closely as possible. The prepress proofs were later checked against official press proofs from the printer. Any differences in color between the original documents and the photographs herein result from the limitations inherent in printing.
As mentioned earlier in this note, the documents featured in this volume were photographed resting on a table. For aesthetic reasons, Baird used photo-editing software to digitally remove the table from the background and to add a thin shadow at the bottom of the images. Baird also used photo-editing software in two other cases. The first case—digitally removing the microspatula from nine images in Revelation Book 1—was described earlier. The other case relates to manuscript page 67 of Revelation Book 1. The text on that page is obscured by a slip of paper affixed to the original page (see figure 3). This slip can be partially lifted so that most of the underlying page and all of the text on the back of the slip can be seen and photographed, but the slip cannot be removed without damaging the adhesive wafer used to seal the slip to the page (see figure 4). To represent what the underlying page looks like, Baird created a composite image, digitally collating a photograph of the text above the slip with another photograph of the text underneath and below the slip. The composite image, which contains a triangular whited area to represent the portion of the page that cannot be uncovered because of the presence of the wafer, accompanies the transcript of that page in this volume. As for the slip itself, Baird cropped out the background from Andersen’s photographs of the front and back of the slip. Those cropped photographs are shown along with their corresponding transcripts following manuscript page 67 of Revelation Book 1.
Figs. 3 and 4. A slip of paper is affixed to manuscript page 67 of Revelation Book 1. The slip was lifted so that the underlying page and the back of the slip could be photographed. The photograph accompanying the transcript of manuscript page 67 herein is a composite.
Except as described in this note, the textual photographs in this volume have not been altered.
Limitations of the Photographs
Even careful photographs can underplay important features of the original document. Two categories of such features are worth noting here.
First, some details described in the annotation of this volume can be seen in the original documents and in the electronic images but are too small to be seen well, if at all, in the photographs printed herein. For example, some pages of Revelation Book 1 bear uninked vertical marks that correspond to line breaks in The Evening and the Morning Star (see figure 5), and various pages in both books contain pinholes that were created when slips of paper were pinned to the page (see figure 6).
Figs. 5 and 6. Some features of the original documents, such as the uninked mark between “the” and “several” on the top line of manuscript page 58 of Revelation Book 1 (left) and pinholes on manuscript page 69 of Revelation Book 2 (right) are too small to be seen well in the photographs published herein.
Second, certain physical features obscure text of the original documents. For example, because of age, some pages have worn along the outer edges, resulting in curling or inward folding of small portions of the page (see figure 7). Text may also be obscured by tight binding and unusual folds in pages. In cases such as these, the transcripts present more text than the photographs themselves because the transcribers could uncover text not visible to the camera’s lens.
Fig. 7. Wear from aging and use can cause the edges of paper to curl and fold, obscuring text from the camera and sometimes from the transcriber. This fold, in the upper right corner of manuscript page 1 of Revelation Book 1, partially obscures st.”.
A few pages of the manuscript books have slips of paper attached to them that obscure text. The single instance of this that occurs in Revelation Book 1 was discussed earlier. Revelation Book 2 contains three slips of paper, one attached to the inside front cover, one placed between manuscript pages 60 and 61, and one attached to manuscript page 69. The slip attached to the inside front cover was lifted by an archivist during photography so that the back of the slip could be photographed (see figure 8). The text on the front and back of this slip is transcribed herein, but the brief notation on the underlying page (visible in figure 8) is not transcribed because it was likely written before the book was purchased. The slip at manuscript page 60 is not presently attached to the page itself (see figure 9). This slip was temporarily removed so its front and reverse sides and the underlying page could be photographed for this volume. The slip on manuscript page 69 of Revelation Book 2 was probably originally attached square with the page itself; later, the slip was moved and repinned in its present diagonal position (see figures 10 and 11). For production of this volume, an archivist temporarily unpinned the slip so the back of the slip and the underlying page could be photographed. Then the archivist repinned the slip using the same pin and pinholes. Photographs of the front and back of all these slips appear adjacent to their corresponding transcripts in this volume.
Figs. 8, 9, 10, and 11. Revelation Book 2 contains three slips of paper that obscure text on the underlying pages. Top left: A slip of paper affixed to the inside front cover of the volume was lifted so the verso and the underlying page could be photographed. Top right: A slip inserted at manuscript page 60 but not currently attached to the book was temporarily removed during photography. Bottom left: A slip of paper was probably originally attached to manuscript page 69 in the position shown in this photograph. Bottom right: The slip was later moved and pinned in the position shown. The slip was temporarily removed during photography and then repinned in the same location.
Techniques Used to Recover Canceled Text
Transcribers for this volume used multispectral imaging and photo-editing software to recover canceled text in two instances in Revelation Book 1. The first instance is a twentieth-century notation. On manuscript page 117, “DC | 108” was written in the upper left corner in graphite and then erased. This page is in the custody of the Community of Christ, and that institution’s section number for the revelation thereon is section 108 (the equivalent in the Latter-day Saint canon is D&C 133). Multispectral imaging, a technology that uses different wavelengths of light to extract additional information that cannot be seen by the human eye, revealed this notation (see figure 12). On manuscript page31, two words were heavily stricken. Analysis of both the original document and of a digital image that was enhanced using photo-editing software (see figure 13) allowed a partial recovery of the original inscription.
Figs. 12 and 13. Transcribers used different technologies to recover canceled text. Left: Multispectral imaging recovered the erased notation “DC | 108” in the upper left corner of manuscript page 117 of Revelation Book 1. Right: This enhanced digital image of manuscript page 31 of Revelation Book 1 was used along with the original document to partially reconstruct heavily stricken text. The stricken text reads “M◊◊tin [Martin] only.”