The Garstang Museum of Archaeology is the departmental museum for the school of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool.
The museum had just launched its first exhibition, Meroë: Africa’s Forgotten Empire, since its major refurbishment in 2014 (which included a move into the old archaeology library). The exhibition was on from May to September 2016.
The exhibition was primarily a photographic one with enlarged prints of photographs mounted on metal stands around the perimeter of the room. The photographs were taken during John Garstang’s archaeological excavations at the ancient city of Meroë (in modern Sudan) in the years 1910–1914.
The exhibition was embellished with a collection of artefacts excavated by Garstang in a display case in the centre of the room. Alongside the artefacts sit a collection of 3D-printed pieces. These are from genuine Meroitic artefacts which were scanned and then printed out to create replicas.
The exhibition opened on 13 May, which was Light Night in Liverpool. The museum opened to the public at 5.00 pm for a few hours and, at the centre of the exhibition, was a 3D printer printing out replicas of the lion statue.
Technical aspects of the photography
I went along to get a few photos of the opening night for the museum, and then went back a couple of weeks later to get some more photos when the museum was closed, so I could get pictures of just the exhibition without visitors.
The main technical considerations of the shoot were:
- Getting a photograph of a relatively small room. Instead of using a wide-angle lens, which could’ve caused unnecessary exaggeration of the corner of the display case, I used a longer lens and combined four or five shots into one panorama in Photoshop.
- Reflections on the glass display case. I used a polarising filter and careful positioning of the camera to minimise reflections of the fluorescent strip lights in the glass. A bit of extra work in Photoshop was needed to further reduce the reflections. The reflections on the photo of the ceramic jugs were impossible to lose completely without compromising the image itself, unfortunately.
- Dealing with the shallow depth of field on items in the display case due to the close proximity of the camera to the artefacts. I used focus stacking for the shot of the ceramic jugs by using several photographs, each with the camera focused on different parts of the jugs to ensure focus throughout.