Here you can find updates that highlight Two Cat Digital's projects, events, and other news.

Exciting Digitization Project: “Insects and Plants – A Living Theater”

Dr. Edward S. Ross traveled the world collecting and photographing insects for over 60 years.  These trips were supported by the National Geographic Society, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the California Academy of Sciences where he chaired the Entomology Department for 40 years. In addition to discovering many new species, he also pioneered the field of on-location 35mm macro photography.

Dr. Ross began working on this book almost ten years ago, but ran into many roadblocks along the way.  One challenge was the need for scanning 500 35mm slides with enough detail to capture the color and beauty of these insects.  Digital files were needed that were ready for the printing press, but it was also important to retain archival files.  Because many of the slides had stains and dirt embedded in the emulsion, it also meant considerable retouching to make the images look perfect.

We did high resolution scanning on our Hasselblad X5 equipment to capture all the detail in the slides. This allowed us to provide the best possible quality files to the Ross family for their archive, to do the extensive retoucing, and to produce multiple derivative files needed by the designer and publisher for printing the book.

Dr. Ed Ross at work:


Cover photo: "Provoked female mantis rears up"


Digitization of Saint Mary’s College Photographic Archive

We get all kinds of inquiries for digitization services, but sometimes the circumstances make us cringe!  In this case, Martin Cohen, the archivist at Saint Mary’s College of California, called for a quote to scan 3,300 photographic prints ranging in size from 2x2 inches to 4x10 feet. It seems they had previously scanned all these prints themselves over a period of many years, but after a server crash, they were unable to restore the files from backups, so all had been lost.

This rare collection of photographic prints covers the entire 150-year history of the college. We presented three different pricing proposals, each using a different camera/scanner. They approved a mid-priced option that included scanning everything at 36 megapixels, and producing both archival TIFF files, and derivative JPEGS ready to import to their existing image database.  Martin’s team was able to sort the prints into five different size categories, which made it easier for us to batch them in scanning, and saved them some money.  They also provided us with a spreadsheet with all their image identifiers that we were able to use for custom filenaming of the scans.

In addition to the scanning, we have consulted with the archive to assure they have put in place a more robust imaging and backup system.  We also keep a copy of the entire project on our servers for a guaranteed time after completion of each job.  Best practices call for having three copies of every important file, and at least one of those should be kept offsite.  Many new cloud based backup offerings are available at reasonable prices, so every institution can make sure files are accessible well into the future.

This photo shows the 1909 baseball team:

Helping U.C. Berkeley’s Optometry Department Transition to Digital

Like many educational institutions, the School of Optometry at U.C. Berkeley has used slides to illustrate a very visual subject for many years.

In this case, it is a series of training slides, photographed using a stereo camera, to teach students how to recognize and grade the severity of diabetic eye disease. Students would use stereo viewers to see these 'eyes’ (retina photographs) in three dimensions. We scanned the 35mm slides on our Hasselblad X5 scanner at very high resolution, and then created PDF files for each stereo pair.  Students can now sit in front of a computer screen, or an iPad, and view the images in stereo using 3-D glasses.

UC Berkeley Optometry Stereo Retinas

This project is also featured in our Portfolio section.

Jack Katz Original Artwork Digitized for Titan Publishing in England

Jack Katz is a well-known illustrator of comics and one of the originators of the American graphic novel or "underground comic." His most famous work, The First Kingdom, took him twelve years to complete, and was published in twenty-four volumes starting in 1974. He developed the entire story, wrote all the copy, and hand drew the 768 pages with incredible detail. Always intended as the first part of a trilogy, Katz later finished The Space Explorers Club, and Destiny to complete the series.

In 2013, Titan Publishing, in England, bought the rights to republish The First Kingdom, and to publish the other two books in the trilogy.  Two Cat Digital was selected to scan all the original artwork, and to provide camera-ready bitmaps for Titan's printers around the world. We took the extra step of doing preservation level scans of all the artwork, and providing those archival TIFF files to Jack Katz for his archive.  The bitmap files were generated as derivatives, and delivered electronically to Titan's FTP servers.

See an example of one of these pages in our Portfolio section.

Digitization of the Burton Holmes Lantern Slide Collection

Lantern slides predate 35mm slides as a medium for projecting photographic images. The slides themselves are glass plates, 3.5 x 4 inches in size. Since the photographic plates of the time were limited to black and white, many photographers further enhanced their images by hand coloring the plates.

Lantern Slide ScannerBurton Holmes was a master of the art, and according to many reports, a master showman. He produced over 8,000 travelogue shows in his lifetime, and eventually added motion pictures to his presentations. Holmes eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he even has his own star on Hollywood Boulevard! The University of California, Los Angeles now has the largest collection of Holmes' original lantern slides.

The collection we are digitizing is photographs from Italy and is supported by a grant from the Kress Foundation. We actually built a scanner for this purpose by modifying our TTI Repro Camera and Betterlight scanback to work with a special full-spectrum backlit light source that is laser aligned to the optical system for absolute sharpness edge-to-edge. We are providing an archival TIFF file from the raw scan that is color correct but unprocessed, as well as a set of cropped, fully processed TIFF files that will be used by UCLA to generate derivative files for eventual presentation purposes.

View a full size image from this collection in our Portfolio section.

Two Cat Digital’s Donation Helps Society of Architectural Historians Qualify for $460,000 NEH Grant

Two Cat Digital has a long relationship with the Society of Architectural Historians, having provided scanning services for their SAHARA online image library of architectural photographs, as well as being chosen to digitize all imagery for their upcoming SAH ARCHIPEDIA. This includes over 30,000 photographic prints, slides and transparencies being provided by University of Virginia Press. We were thrilled to be able to help SAH “get over the top” in terms of matching contributions for the $460,000 NEH grant.

The Society has also contracted with us for ongoing consulting services that assure best practices are employed for image selection, editing, metadata migration, and digital preservation.  

More information.

Digitization of Rare Sierra Club Album Printed by Ansel Adams in 1928

Two Cat Digital has completed digitization of an album of photographs, entitled In the Canadian Rockies, hand printed by Ansel Adams in 1928. This priceless album includes 50 photographs taken during Adams’ first Sierra Club “high country” trip. Adams made the prints, had it all custom bound in leather, and presented it as a gift to the trip leader, William Colby.

Ansel Adams would eventually become the official photographer for these backpacking trips held by the Sierra Club. Although most of the trips were in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, this one was in the Canadian Rockies. Of the 50 photographs in the book, 34 are by Adams, while 16 are by other photographers on the trip. All were printed by Adams and then professionally bound in a custom leather binding. 

The scanning of this book was difficult because many of the pages would not lay flat, and most of the photographs had faded to some extent over the years. There was also noticeable “silvering” of the photographs, which caused unwanted reflections in the scans. 

We used our Betterlight scanback system for the highest possible quality. The Betterlight is mounted on a TTI Repro Camera and motorized column. We built a custom jig to hold each page flat without the use of glass, and without any damage to the fragile binding; and a laser system to ensure absolute alignment of the system. Perfect alignment is critical when scanning at extremely high resolutions. 

View a single page from this book in our Porfolio.

You can also see a slideshow of the scans on the Sierra Club's website.