Friday, March 25, 2011

Digital Photo Archiving Practices

As I contemplate what to do about the growing and vastly underutilized collection of TIFF files residing on our server, I thought it would be a good idea to review the goals and intentions of an image archive. There are a number of great resources online that have informed my observations, including the National Archives Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access:   Creation of Production Master Files - Raster Images, the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative, and ASMP's Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow.

While I may not follow the recommendations to a tee, the following is my interpretation of the similarities between the three sources on the subject of file types.

Archive Master
The purpose of an Archive Master image is to preserve the original recording. All subsequent images are derived from the Archive Master. The image processing and file format of derivatives is determined by their intended use.

Production Master
A Production Master image is a rendition of the Archive Master. The Production Master is intended to show the image when reproduced in ideal form. Image processing may be applied to Production Masters.

It is common practice to save a compressed version of the Production Master to serve as an access Derivative. Derivative images are usually saved as 8-bit Jpegs. For ease of reproduction, Derivatives may be stored as sRGB images.

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