Charles M. Falco's inexpensive, modified digital SLR camera has thrilled art conservators with what it can do at infrared wavelengths
UANews | By Lori Stiles, University Communications December 4, 2009
By modifying an ordinary SLR camera to see in infrared, UA physicist Charles Falco has opened the floodgates for art curators to examine what stories lie hidden beneath the visible façades of old paintings..uanews.org/node/28902
A scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson has modified a commercial 8-megapixel digital SLR camera for infrared use, creating an inexpensive, portable new tool that even amateur photographers can use to quickly see through layers of paint in artwork to reveal drawings, defects or other features on the original canvas.
Conservators have been using infrared, or IR, cameras to examine and document artwork since the late 1960s. "But these cameras can cost upwards of $100,000, so the number of paintings studied by this technique has been extremely limited," said UA optical sciences and physics Professor Charles M. Falco.
'The technique is based on the fact that many common pigments are partially transparent to infrared light, making it possible to use appropriate infrared sensors to capture important information from surfaces that are covered by layers of paint," he said.