Buck Winn (2 of 2): Isolate Part of an Image in Photoshop

The other image request for the University Archives Buck Winn Exhibition was for an isolated version of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s statue of Fighting Stallions, so that viewers of the exhibition could download the image and recreate the base on which the statue stands. Originally, Buck Winn designed an elaborate natural landscape to hold the statue (see Winn’s design here). Over the years, his design was removed and a simple concrete structure now exists. Visit the Online Exhibition Here for more information!

Image of Fighting Stallions (Original)

I began by making an image of the stallions with a digital camera. After deciding on the best view of the stallions from the digital image captures, I opened it through Adobe’s Camera Raw Editor and adjusted some of the values of the image. I kept most of my attention on how the stallions looked, since that is what was going to be in the final image. I also increased the saturation of the image, particularly in the greens. Since the Stallions are gray and black, increasing saturation in the greens did not effect the Stallions. Making this adjustment will make it easier to select parts of the image i want to eliminate in Photoshop.

Once satisfied with my adjustments in Camera Raw I opened the Image in Photoshop. Here you can see the increased saturation.

Image of Fighting Stallions (Saturated)

I began by removing parts of the image that would be quick. Using Select-Color Range I was able to easily select and remove all blue values. I then did the same thing with the green values, and yellow values. For each color I did need to adjust the Fuzziness to improve the selection area. I also had to do a minimal amount of de-selection using the quick selection tool to remove small areas of the stallions that were selected by the Color Range tool.

Using the Color Range Selection tool to remove Blue values

Using Color Range Selection to remove green values

I used the magnetic lasso tool to refine the edge of the shape of the stallion and remove parts of the environment/background that was less effective from using the color range tool. Here is an image about halfway through using the magnetic lasso tool to select an area and delete it. I found it best to work in smaller sections at a time.

Once I removed all unwanted parts of the image and had just the stallions isolated, I converted it to grayscale. I then used a 50% gray layer to refine the tones on the Stallions (mainly in the shadow areas). Click Here to see the final version!

Final Version – Grayscale


Buck Winn (1 of 2): Creating a Coloring Page from a Photograph in Photoshop

In mid-March, we received a request to provide images for an exhibition on the work of the Texas artist and sculptor, Buck Winn, that exists on Texas State University’s campus. One of his works on the façade of Flowers Hall is a bas-relief sculpture with stained glass inset throughout. Originally the stained glass allowed light to shine into the stairwell on the interior of the building, however over the years the interior was altered, and the stained glass was filled in. Laura Kennedy, a University Archivist, wanted to create a coloring page to allow viewers of the exhibition to download the image and color in the stained-glass portions with their own interpretation. Getting a good image of the full artwork was challenging, since the façade of the building is tall and narrow, with trees and a staircase in front of it, and there’s no way to take a photograph of the building straight on.

I began by capturing an image of the entire mural, with as minimal interference from surrounding elements. I also had to consider time of day, to avoid interference from dark shadows or harsh sunlight.

Buck Winn mural at Flowers Hall, Texas State University

First, I opened the image using Camera Raw editor and adjusted the exposure to further illuminate the detail of the facade. Next, using Photoshop, I adjusted the keystone and distortion by using the free transform option. A grid overlay made it much simpler to get the shape of the building square and keep the proportions accurate. I then cropped the excess part of the image so that just the artwork was visible.

Keystone Correction, Deleted Stained Glass

After correcting the distortion, I adjusted the Levels to further refine the impression of the relief. I also adjusted down the white value so that it was just slightly grayer than paper white to  allow a better separation from the stained-glass portions in the final image. I inverted it to a grayscale image and used the sliders to make the stained glass more visible. This step helped to more easily select the stain glassed portions to be removed. Next. I went over the image and used the quick selection tool to remove all stained-glass parts of the image, then deleted the contents of the selection.

Layers used in Photoshop to achieve end results

I then used the 50% gray layer adjustment to refine the values of the image. Due to the angle of sunlight on the wall, the top of the building was considerably brighter than the bottom. I used this layer adjustment to help equalize those differences and to increase contrast on the relief of the sculpture. Once I was happy with the visual qualities, I printed a test on a standard BW laser printer.

Below is a sample, but Click Here to see the final version!

Using a %50 Gray Layer in Photoshop in place of Dodging and Burning

Whenever we receive a request for a printed photograph or custom image work, Photoshop is usually our tool of choice for fine-tuning and one of the most common adjustments is selectively brightening or darkening areas of the image.  While there are multiple tools for enhancing the entire image, working only on particular sections of the image takes a little more care.  One tool, Dodge and Burn, which takes its name from the process of adding more or less light to the exposure of the print from a darkroom enlarger, uses the Brush tool to lighten or darken an area of an image. However, this tool can often lead to creating artifacts and uneven transitions within the image. Highlights can become too white and shadows become blocked up; overuse of the tool can easily lead to a loss of detail in middle tones too. For a less destructive method using a 50% gray layer in combination with the brush tool, the steps below may be followed to make adjustments similar to dodging/burning for selected areas.

We are using this image from the San Marcos Daily Record Collection (from the University Archives) to illustrate one way to make localized adjustments to an image, by lightening the dresses of the majorettes only.

SMDR Photographic Negatives Collection, [1930s][Billy Wyatt], SMDR_1930s-1_018

Begin by opening an image in Photoshop. In the Layer tool panel, make sure the image is a single locked layer, usually called “Background”. If it’s labeled as “Layer 1” instead, right click and select “Flatten Image”. Next, create two new layers: Lighten (Dodge) and Darken(Burn) using the method below.

  1. Create New Layer (CRTL + SHFT + N)

    1. Name it Lighten
    2. Color: None
    3. Mode: Overlay
    4. Opacity: 100%
    5. Check the box to Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% Gray)
    6. Click ok
  2. Create New Layer (CRTL + SHFT + N)

    1. Name it Darken
    2. Color: None
    3. Mode: Overlay
    4. Opacity: 100%
    5. Check the box to Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% Gray)
    6. Click ok

Create New Layer for each: Lighten & Darken

Under the Layers Panel you should now have 3 layers 1. Background 2. Lighten 3. Darken

Using the Brush Tool to paint in your values:

  1. Use the shortcut key “B” to select the Brush tool
  2. Set the Brush to a desired size that is appropriate to the area being altered.
  3. Adjust the size of the Brush as needed for different areas of the image using the shortcut Keys “[  ]”
  4. Set the hardness to 50% as a starting point and adjust as needed.
  5. Set opacity of the brush tool to 12% as a starting point.
  6. In the top toolbar, adjust the Brush Opacity to a lower percentage to make a more subtle change, increase the percentage to make a more dramatic change. (4-15% is a reasonable range to work within)
  7. Rarely should the opacity be set over 30%. This is the threshold that will typically alter the image too quickly and lead to a noticeable decrease in quality.

Darken /Lighten Image

  1. Make sure the color picker is set to Black and White. Use the Shortcut Key “X” to toggle between black and white.
  2. Make sure  the “darken” layer is selected and black is selected as foreground color.
  3. Use the brush tool to darken desired area.
  4. Adjust brush size, opacity and hardness as needed to achieve the desired amount of coverage.
  5. When satisfied with the appearance of the darken areas, use the mouse to select the Lighten layer.
  6. Change the foreground color to white.
  7. Use the Brush tool to paint in the desired level of brightening.
  8. Click the eye tool on the side of the Layer to toggle the layer on and off and check adjustments.
  9. If the overall effect of the Layer adjustment is too strong, decrease the opacity of the Layer in the Layers Panel from 100% to make the adjustments less noticeable. Delete the layer and try again if unsatisfied.

SMDR Photographic Negatives Collection, [1930s][Billy Wyatt], SMDR_1930s-1_018; (Original)

SMDR Photographic Negatives Collection, [1930s][Billy Wyatt], SMDR_1930s-1_018; (Lightened Version)




Project Spotlight: The President’s Report to the Board of Regents

Texas State University is a member of the Texas State University System, currently governed by a nine-member Board of Regents who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.  For their quarterly meetings, the President of Texas State prepares a report of University activities and proposals for the Board’s review.  While the reports that are now released are digitally accessible, the University Archives at Texas State holds the official paper records of these reports, the earliest of which dates back to 1923.  Since these records include an overview of budgets, enrollment, faculty salaries, and construction and renovation details, in addition to a broad look at notable events occurring at the University, they’re of great value to local researchers and administration and a high priority for digitization to increase the ease of access to these materials. Due to age and variability of the physical reports, the oldest bound material, ranging from 1923 – 1969, was captured separately in the workflow described below.

Project Specs:Fujitsu

Start Date: September 17, 2019

Completion Date: December 16, 2019

Total Images Captured: 7,031

Total PDFs Created: 183

Capture Method: Fujitsu fi-6670 multi feed scanner; Sony A7R II

Programs Used: Paper Stream Capture, Capture One, ScanTailor Advanced. Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Jupyter Notebook

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A Larger Than Life View of Russell Lee

The variety of projects is always one of the more exciting parts of working here. For a Russell Lee exhibit that is currently on display at the Redwood Library & Athenæum in Newport, RI, we received a request through the Wittliff Collections to digitize two images of the photographer Russell Lee at a scale large enough to cover two walls in the show.

The dimensions of the photographs to digitize are 4.25″ x 3.25″ and 13.375″ x 7.875″ respectively, so creating a digital file from these with a high enough resolution to print at a final size of over 8′ at 100 px/in isn’t something even our best equipment can manage in a single shot. To solve this problem, we captured each photograph in smaller sections and then combined those together to create a seamless final image. The smaller photograph is a combination of 6 images in Photoshop for the final digital file, and the larger took only 2 images.

A photograph prepared on a copystand

One of the photographs of Russell Lee prepared on the capture station.

Once we had our final image, we knew we wanted to see for ourselves what they could look like when printed for the wall. This is where we love having the help of our digital technicians to demonstrate!

Two panels of a photographic print being held up near stairs

Digital technicians holding two panels of a print side by side outside of Alkek Library.

Two students on side and one student sitting above a long, narrow print on the floor

A cropped section of the smaller original photograph on the floor, with students for scale.  From the left: Jessica Henriquez, Reba Jenson, and Allen Garza.


Tech Reflect: Lucy Lippard Notebooks

Tech Reflect is a platform for Digital & Web Services technicians to look-back on a particular project and share their experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned.

By Austen Villacis, Digital Imaging Technician

Occasionally, requests will come in from Texas State faculty for special projects. One such request came from Dr. Erina Duganne, an Associate Professor of Art History in the College of Art and Design, and included a collection of 5 personal notebooks from art critic Lucy Lippard. The notebooks date from 1983 to 1984, and range in size, the largest being 4″x6″ inches.

After meeting with Dr. Duganne to examine the materials in-person and discuss the goals for the project, the first step was to build a capture station with the following things in mind:

Quality: Dr. Duganne might use some of these images for an exhibit at Tufts University in 2020 and an accompanying exhibition catalog.
Efficiency: The total number of pages in the notebooks in over 1000, so it’s essential that the capture station is efficient.
Careful Handling: These nearly 40-year-old materials are on loan, not for the library to keep.
Versatility: The notebooks themselves vary in size, so I need the capture station to be versatile.

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Tech Reflect: Civilian Conservation Corps cassette tapes

Tech Reflect is a platform for Digital & Web Services technicians to look-back on a particular project and share their experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned.

By: Zachary Johnson, Digital A/V Technician

The Civilian Conservation Corps Project (CCC) was founded in 1933, ending in 1942. It was a government-funded organization originally meant for unemployed, unmarried men between the age of 18 and 25. The age limit was eventually moved up to 28 (although most camps didn’t care if you were 16 or 17). FDR created the CCC as a part of his ‘New Deal’ in order to provide money to families that were in desperate need of cash during the great depression

The jobs done by the CCC enrollees were mostly construction, but that is not all they were known for doing. They were truckers (construction & transportation), medical staff (assistants to doctors, nurses, and dentists), hairdressers, miners in rock quarries (although they were sometimes used to help find artifacts in historically significant dig sites), and cooks (enrollees who made breakfast, lunch, and dinner), or cashiers at concession stands in the rec hall (for extra cash, not as their main/sole job). Each enrollee was paid around $27 a month, but they only received $5 and the rest was sent to their families to help them get through the depression, though the amount paid could vary from year to year. The CCC operated mostly through national parks and was run by the U.S. military, although enrollees did not have quite as many rules and responsibilities as military personnel had. As a for instance, they still had to make their beds in the morning and have them inspected, but they didn’t have to do things like saluting to the flag.

Dr. Ron Brown has approximately 42 cassette tapes of oral interviews conducted in 1991-1993 while he was working on a history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Mesa Verde National Park. The Mesa Verde site is significant because unlike most CCC sites, most of the documents and archives related to CCC remained on site and were not sent to the National Archives. Persons who were members of the CCC in Mesa Verde were interviewed for their recollections. Shortly after he completed the interviews, he became a full-time administrator and did not return to the project until Jan. 1, 2018, when he returned to full-time faculty status. The interviews were collected on cassette tapes of good quality at the time. His interview equipment was better than average quality at the time, and the interview cassettes have not been run since the early 1990s.

The tapes are historically significant documents that are important for his own research and would be of use to the Texas State Archives as well as to the MVNP Research Center in Colorado. The tapes were captured, edited, and given back to Dr. Brown in the months of October and November 2018 by Zachary Johnson. After the digital capture, the physical tapes will be given to the university archiving department at Texas State University library, while the digital copies will be transcribed and given back to Dr.Brown for his project.

How I Created Digital Files from Legacy Technology

  1. Check to make sure all the recording devices work properly
  2. Check the condition of the physical tape
  3. Record the audio on each side of the tape
  4. Edit/clean up the audio
  5. Turn in for Quality Control (QC)

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Without Documents

In 2016, Digital & Web Services and the Wittliff Collections worked together to create an exhibit based on material in the Dick J. Reavis collection. The National Tour of Texas is an interactive website based on Dick J. Reavis ’s 1987 year long journey driving every highway in Texas.


More recently Dick Reavis gave us permission to digitize and make available his 1978 book Without Documents, which sets out to examine the history of undocumented aliens in the United States. It examines the history of immigration, and in particular the history of Mexican immigration.

The entire book is now freely available in our Digital Collections Repository https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/7761


The issues examined in the book are not only relevant forty years later, but have taken center stage in our current political debates. Dick Reavis was quite prescient in his final statement in the forward:

“For a variety of reasons, it is unlikely that Congress or federal agencies will do anything soon to resolve the question of undocumented immigration, or to alleviate the problems of immigrants themselves. Legislation currently pending in the Senate and House is largely of value for vote-getting purposes, and it is likely that undocumented immigration will continue to be an element in campaigning into the future. Therefore, this book should make important reading for a long time to come.”





Tech Reflect: It’s Only Rock N’ Roll Newspapers

Tech Reflect is a platform for Digital & Web Services technicians to look-back on a particular project and share their experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned.

Last November, nearly a full run of 41 issues of It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (IORNR), an alternative San Antonio-focused, alternative punk and New Wave rock music magazine published from 1979 to 1982, were donated to The Wittliff Collections here at Texas State University, adding to the new Texas Music collecting scope of The Wittliff. The newspaper was a labor of love for its managing editor and publisher, music journalist Ron Young, who wrote for the San Antonio Light and San Antonio Express-News. For more information on Young and the newspaper, please see this 2017 article on the San Antonio Express News’s MySanAntonio.com and this 2016 article in the San Antonio Express News includes more information on the newspaper.

My primary tasks were:

  1. Handling with extreme care
  2. Photographing each page
  3. Post-processing and output
  4. Move files into the Wittliff Collections’ shared drive for ingest into institutional repository

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Picking Up a Fallen Photograph with Photoshop

When photographing exhibitions in the Wittliff Collections‘ Writer’s Room, our focus has been documenting the exhibit cases, as seen in this past blog post, but the recent Legends of Tejano Music exhibition had materials on display everywhere! While finalizing my documentation photographs, I decided to create a panorama from multiple images to better showcase the details along the back walls. Unfortunately, one of the photos had fallen from the wall between setup and capture of the best frame for part of my panorama. Surprisingly, the photograph landed in a lucky position and I was able to restore it to its proper location using Adobe Photoshop.

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