Photographic Documentation of Cultural Heritage: Case Study #1 – Wet Collodion – Carlos Relvas [EN]

Rodrigo Peixoto e António Coelho


The photographic documentation of cultural heritage and its availability for consultation and
research in a digital and decentralized way is increasingly important for an idea of a common
European space based on a shared cultural heritage. This concern is expressed in the CE
Cultural Heritage report.

The creation of specific protocols is of the utmost importance for the creation of quality digital
files. Supported by existing protocols – Metamorfoze and FADGI – and in collaboration with the
European Stereo Masters: Carlos Relvas project, a protocol was developed for Carlos Relvas’ wet
collodion originals (and ambrotypes). The article’s authors are unaware of another example of a
case study that addresses the reproduction of 19th century glass transparencies on collodion.
The importance of photographic archives (and the fragile nature of their originals) makes the
creation, publication and institutionalization of these protocols urgent, guaranteeing
technologically resilient images that can be used, now or in the future, with the certainty of
maintaining a verifiable relationship with the original, independent of subjective interpretations
or individual preferences. We propose to present the protocol developed by us sharing
problems and solutions in the following fields:

1- Administrative Calibration
a) Workflow and database management
b) Titleing of the original
c) Derivative editing and post-production

2 – Secondary digitization
a) Measurement of light in the reproduction of wet collodion plates and ambrotypes.
b) Preliminary measurement and Workflow for transparencies.
c) Reproduction and workflow adapted to the technical characteristics of the original.
d) White Balance (measurement with spectrophotometer).


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