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Seeing the famous drawings for the first time left me astonished. I had seen the reproductions in many books, often from the same shots, made about twenty years ago. The lines are very sharp, without tonal passages. The originals, on the other hand, present very delicate colors and incredible details.Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings have always brought much attention to the museums conserving them and with in many requests to consult them for research or for photo and video reproduction purposes. This causes many problems for these agencies; at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, where the Atlantic Code is kept, and at the Royal Library of Turin, where the Self-Portrait and the Portrait of a Girl are kept, they believe, and we do as well, that high quality and high resolution digital reproductions could facilitate both their promotion and research.
Hasselblad high resolution
I used various Hasselblad digital backs with the "multishot" or "microstep" settings, with very high resolutions of about 88 Mpix, which turned out to be of key importance in serving exceptional results. This was not just a pointless display of power, but necessary to capture every last detail. The lens used is a 120mm macro, extraordinary and capable of supporting unbelievable resolutions. The multishot reproduction allows for very loyal color, without interpolation. For this reason, the natural sharpness, without the use of a mask, is incredible and shows every single shade.
Lighting, tridimensionality and Manfrotto supports
In oder to show every last detail, I lit the drawings only from one side. This solution, even if complicating the light balance, allowed for exceptional tridimensionality and sharp results. For example, in the Self-Portrait and the Portrait of a Girl, the reproductions enhanced certain aspects, like the use of a metal tip or a white lead, that used to be barely visible. In this particular case, the reproduction at 88 Mp was of key importance and, as you can see below, the results were exceptional. The 88 Mp resolution, in this case, was necessary. Photo Beard's HMI lights were used. The complete stability was possible thanks to the use of the Manfrotto Copy Stand IFF System 800.
Leonardo3 is an innovative media company and research center whose mission focuses on the study and popularization of cultural goods through innovative methods and technologies.
The procedure starts from a very high quality digital reproductions, with a resolution between 39 and 88 Mp, of of ancient drawings and codexes. Complex procedures follow: the content reading, often difficult; the publication either in analog form (facsimile) or in digital form (for web or media); the virtual or material reconstruction of the machines described in these documents.
In conjunction with Leonardo3 we have worked on many of Leonardo DaVinci's drawings kept at the Royal Library of Turin, like The Flight of Birds and The Atlantic Code. We also worked on reproducing The Book of Secrets, a manuscript of great importance from the year 1000 AD, kept at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. This document describes ingenious machines like mechanical apparatuses, water run clocks, automatic calendars and war machines.
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