Through the mirror-glass: Capture of artwork framed in glass.


State Library’s collection material that is selected for digitisation comes to the Digitisation team in a variety of forms. This blog describes capture of artwork that is framed and encased within glass.

So let’s see how the item is digitized.


Two large framed original artworks from the picture book Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley posed some significant digitisation challenges.

When artwork from the Heritage collection is framed in glass, the glass acts like a mirror and without great care during the capture process, the glass can reflect whatever is in front of it, meaning that the photographer’s reflection (and the reflection of capture equipment) can obscure the artwork.

This post shows how we avoided this issue during the digitisation of two large framed paintings, Cover illustration for Teacup and also page 4-5 [PWC/255/01 ] and The way the whales called out to each other [PWC/255/09].

Though it is sometimes possible to remove the artwork from its housing, there are occasions when this is not suitable. In this example, the decision was made to not remove the artworks from behind glass as the Conservation staff assessed that it would be best if the works were not disturbed from their original housing.

PWC/255/01                                                         PWC/255/09

The most critical issue was to be in control of the light. Rearranging equipment in the workroom allowed for the artwork to face a black wall, a method used by photographers to eliminate reflections.


We used black plastic across the entrance of the workroom to eliminate all unwanted light.


The next challenge was to set up the camera. For this shoot we used our Hasselblad H3D11 (a 39 mega pixel with excellent colour fidelity).


Prior to capture, we gave the glass a good clean with an anti-static cloth. In the images below, you can clearly see the reflection caused by the mirror effect of the glass.


Since we don’t have a dedicated photographic studio we needed to be creative when introducing extra light to allow for the capture. Bouncing the light off a large white card prevented direct light from falling on the artwork and reduced a significant number of reflections. We also used a polarizing filter on the camera lens to reduce reflections even further.


Once every reflection was eliminated and the camera set square to the artwork, we could test colour balance and exposure.

In the image below, you can see that we made the camera look like ‘Ned Kelly’ to ensure any shiny metal from the camera body didn’t reflect in the glass. We used the camera’s computer controlled remote shutter function to further minimise any reflections in front of the glass.



The preservation file includes technically accurate colour and greyscale patches to allow for colour fidelity and a ruler for accurate scaling in future reproductions.


The preservation file and a cropped version for access were then ingested into the State Library’s digital repository. The repository allows for current access and future reproductions to be made.

From this post you can see the care and attention that goes into preservation digitisation, ‘Do it right, do it once’ is our motto.

Early Almanacs Digitised


The Herald Western Australian Almanack and Commercial Directory 1874

Almanacs predate the Western Australian government Year Books and Post Office Directories, and served a similar purpose in detailing the activities of the colony of Western Australia.

We have recently completed the digitising of a series of almanacs 1849 – 1889. These were produced by several different, and sometimes competing, publishers (Stirling and Sons, Arthur Shenton, and James Pearce) so there may be more than one publication for a particular year.





Australasian Map In: The Herald Western Australian Almanack and Commercial Directory 1874


Most early almanacs include a list of prominent office-holders and their positions in the establishment. A more general directory appears during the 1860s.
Some editions include a potted history of the colony by date – see the Western Australian Almanack of 1856 by Stirling and Sons. Stirling and Sons’ almanacs may also include a brief chronicle of occurrences and events for the year.

As well as interesting statistics on the demography and productivity of the colony, calendars, and schedules of government fees, the almanacs contain advertisements for many local businesses including merchants, banks, jewellers, undertakers, insurance agents, hoteliers, teachers, retailers, accountants and tradesmen.


Advertisements from: Western Australian Almanack 1868 [Stirling and Sons]


Catholic Church Schools In: Western Australian Almanack 1855 [Arthur Shenton]

Browsing the almanacs can afford interesting highlights such as a short paragraph of useful hints to keep your servants – “Piece work is the cheapest to the master and the best to the men”. [Oh, really?] Or the Table of Distances for Western Australia compiled by Alfred Hillman in 1854 [1856 almanac].


Western Australian Almanack for the year 1855 published by Arthur Shenton p.38


Table of Distances in Western Australia compiled by Alfred Hillman 1854 In: Western Australian Almanack [Stirling and Sons] 1856 pp. 78-79

If you have an interest in Western Australian social or family history these publications provide a wealth of background information as well as mentioning many residents and businesses of the time.


Western Almanack and Directory 1869 [Stirling and Son]

To find the almanacs through our catalogue search using the terms ALMANACK and HERITAGE ONLINE (note spelling of almanac with a “k”)
Visit the Biographies and Directories section of our Heritage Online pages.

Real estate plans online

57/8/16: Sandringham Estate

57/8/16: Sandringham Estate

Have you ever thought about looking for a real estate plan of your suburb or a suburb where someone in your family lived?

The Library holds hundreds of real estate plans which were produced when new land releases became available. Most are for suburbs in the metropolitan area and date from the late 1800s or early 1900s. Although it looks as though many of these plans are adorned with the swastika symbol, it is in fact a sacred good luck symbol for some religions in India.

57/7/7: West Guildford

57/7/7: West Guildford

57/7/33: Scarborough Beach Estate

57/7/33: Scarborough Beach Estate

A project has begun to digitise these plans and many of the ones produced by Peet & Co. have now been completed and can be viewed online through our catalogue. They show blocks of land, often with the dimensions, roads and features such as lakes, tramlines or railway stations; sometimes individual houses and landowners are marked. It is really interesting to see the prices charged for land 100 or so years ago.

You can find real estate plans in our catalogue by searching under keyword for ‘peet and co real estate’ and selecting State Library Maps from the drop-down box.

57/7/2: Cityview Estate: the dress circle of Kalamunda

57/7/2: Cityview Estate: the dress circle of Kalamunda

Cast your vote in the People’s Choice Awards

Books shortlisted in the WA Premier's Book Awards

Do you love Australian fiction?

Do you want to rub shoulders with authors and publishers at the awards ceremony for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards on 16 September 2013?

As part of the WA Premier’s Book Awards for works published in 2012, The West Australian have sponsored a People’s Choice Award that gives you the opportunity to have your say and a chance at winning some great prizes.

By voting on your favourite book shortlisted in the fiction category, you will go into the draw for a double pass to the awards ceremony as well as copy of the winning book in each category, signed by the author.

The six titles in the fiction category shortlist are:

  • The Meaning of Grace by Deborah Forster
  • The Conversation by David Brooks
  • Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
  • The Voyage by Murray Bail
  • The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska
  • Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany

What’s your favourite?

Your time to decide is running out, with voting closing at 10am on Friday August 30, 2013.

Vote now on The West Australian website. 

Want to get your hands on these titles? The State Library Shop is currently offering a 20% discount on all 6 books shortlisted in the fiction category.

2013 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Shop Special

All titles are also available throughout the Western Australian Public Library network.

For more information about the Premier’s Book Awards, please visit our website.

Top 10 cycle racing photos from our collection

As a tribute to the Tour de France, a Collection Liaison Librarian here at the State Library has put together a list of some of the best cycle racing photographs in our collection.

Though the bicycles and outfits might’ve changed (high-vis leotard anyone?), the thrill of the race and the cheers of the crowd have continued on.

Cycle race, Mt Magnet to Black Range, c1908

1. Cycle race, Mt Magnet to Black Range, c1908

A Goldfields bicycle racing club of the thirties.

2. A Goldfields bicycle racing club in the thirties

Cyclists at the Perth British Empire and Commonwealth Games train on the road, 1962.

3. Cyclists at the Perth British Empire and Commonwealth Games train on the road, 1962

An English cyclists trains,  1962

4. An English cyclist trains, 1962

Start of a cycle race, Coolgardie,  1898-1899.

5. Start of a cycle race, Coolgardie, c1898-1899

6. The 120 mile road race held in King's Park, 1962

6. The 120 mile road race held in King’s Park, 1962

In the 120 mile road race England's Wesley Mason flashed to the front with 200 yards to go and pip Tony Walsh to the finish, 1962.

7. In the 120 mile road race England’s Wesley Mason flashed to the front with 200 yards to go and pipped Tony Walsh to the finish, 1962

Aero bicycles and cycle racing in Western Australia, c1920s.

8. Aero bicycles and cycle racing in Western Australia, c1920s

 Photograph of a photograph of H. Fraser, Boulder Cycling Club 40 Mile Road Race Club Champion, 1906-1907

9. Photograph of a photograph of H. Fraser, Boulder Cycling Club 40 Mile Road Race Club Champion, 1906-1907

 10. Henk Vogels riding in the Armadale Classic Criterium, ca1992

10. Henk Vogels riding in the Armadale Classic Criterium, c1992

Click here to see these photographs and more on our catalogue.

New exhibition: Majority Rules

At the opening ceremony of Majority Rules.

Visit our new exhibition in The Gallery on the Ground Floor of the State Library of Western Australia. 

How do you vote?

Discover how political parties and candidates persuade you to support them in the polls by exploring fascinating items from our collections: how-to-vote cards from 1904 to the present, newspapers covering Australian elections and much more.

A how-to-vote card from 1915

A how-to-vote card from 1915

Reflect on milestones in Australian election history, and discover some of the issues that have affected voting from the past to the present. Witness how campaigning has changed over time and decide what influences YOU at election time.

1996 X files inspired Labor Party campaign material

1996 X files inspired Labor Party campaign material

When: 8 July – 21 October 2013
Where: The Gallery, Ground Floor
Entry is FREE. Open during State Library hours.

Professor David Black and Professor Brian De Garis at the opening ceremony of Majority Rules.

Professor David Black and Professor Brian De Garis at the opening ceremony of Majority Rules.

Alec Choate 1915 – 2010

 We were saddened this week to read of the death of West Australian poet Alec Choate.

Alec Choate

Alec Choate at the Premier's Book Awards dinner on 26 February, 1998. Alec Choate was the winner of the Poetry category in the 1997 awards.

Alec Choate was born in England in 1915 and migrated to Western Australia in 1922.  He was educated at Gwelup Primary School and Hale School.  He served in the AIF in the Middle East and the Pacific in the Second World War.  After the war he worked as a surveyor with the Public Works Department.

He published seven collections of poetry and edited Summerland: A Western Australian Sesquicentenary Anthology of Poetry and Prose (1979).  He won numerous awards including the 1997 Premier’s Book Award for Poetry for his collected war poems, The Wheels of Hama.

You can find more about or by Alec Choate in the collections of the State Library.

You can read more about Alec Choate’s life in:

Three new databases at the State Library of WA

If you are visiting the State Library soon you may wish to try our newest electronic resources (only available within the State Library building) :

MaquarieNet – Australia’s Online Reference Library:

For students, teachers and general users. Its broad and diverse collection of resources includes interactive maps,a range of Macquarie dictionaries,daily ABC news feeds, images and interactive Learning Trails

Art & Architecture Complete

 Covering a wide variety of pertinent subjects, including antiques, art and art history, interior and landscape design, and much more,  Art and Achitecture provides full-text coverage of more than 250 periodicals and 150 books

Naxos Jazz Music Library

One of the the most comprehensive collection of Jazz music available online offering close to 22,600 tracks of jazz from over 2,300 albums.
*Headphones are required to use this database and are available to purchase from the bookshop on the ground floor of the library.

Remember – these databases are only be available within the  library – you need to register with the library to access and book library computers.  Access the databases from our Electronic Resources pages.