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WASHINGTON, D.C. — X-ray images of famous paintings reveal a host of details, such as corrections or underdrawings made by the artist. Such imaging research can be painstaking to set up. Charles Falco of the University of Arizona will show how infrared pictures can be made using relatively simple adaptations to a common digital camera. This is possible since many paints are at least partially transparent to near-IR waves.
A camera sensitive to waves (830-1100 nm) just beyond the visible can reveal details on the canvas that no one has glimpsed in centuries. The trick is replacing the low-pass filter used in many digital cameras (allowing visible light but blocking IR) with a high-pass filter (one allowing IR but blocking visible). Some extra steps in focusing and in setting apertures are necessary for producing accurate pictures. (Copies of Falco’s recent article in Review of Scientific Instruments will be available in the pressroom.)
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