Preserving Color

Grant funds prof's research of techniques
for recording colors of historic buildings


Every day the materials of historical buildings are decaying and their colors are fading. However, the precise hues of these building could be seen by future generations if Texas A&M architecture assistant professor Wei Yan is successful in developing techniques to accurately capture and preserve a building’s color information.

Yan was recently awarded a $30,000 Digital Humanities startup grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to support the development of new methods of recording color information of historical buildings and other artworks.

Yan’s research is focused on creating low-cost, highly efficient techniques for recording and documenting intrinsic chromaticity information, excluding lighting effects, of historical building interiors and exteriors.

Chromaticity is the specific quality of a color determined by its purity and hue.

Yan’s project employs a technique know as High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI). Whereas an ordinary photographic exposure, be it using film or a digital process, captures just a small amount of the total dynamic range of a scene, an image captured using an HDRI process takes in the total range of light, in all its minute gradations from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows, allowing for a more accurate reproduction of a scene.

The NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants program, which is funding Yan’s research, was created to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. The program seeks to identify projects that are particularly innovative and have the potential to make a positive impact on the humanities.

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An example of a series of exposures used to create an image through High Dynamic Range Imaging. In such a technique, highlight and shadow areas in the scene are represented through the “bracketing,” or a series of different exposures.

Please click on images for slideshow

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