Topics in Photographic Preservation 2011, Volume 14, Article 37 (pp. 229)

The Graphics Atlas: Applied

Ryan Boatright

Presented at the 2011 PMG Winter Meeting in Ottawa, Canada

The Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY has developed the Graphics Atlas (, an online resource that brings sophisticated print identification tools to conservators, archivists, curators, teachers, and the general public. Specifically, it allows you to explore the unique visual and physical characteristics of every major printing process, while also providing details regarding the history and usage of the processes in the mainstream, the arts, and mass media. This presentation will function as a live demonstration of the website and will illustrate its potential within the conservation/preservation community.

The website consists of three main applications; guided tours, process comparisons, and identification overviews. The Guided Tour walks users through a print in IPI’s virtual study collection with a concise set of descriptive images in a particular order with text detailing what to notice along the way. The Compare Processes function of the website allows print characteristics to be freely explored with various lighting angles, magnifications, and perspectives via the central toolbar. Specialized video views that depict reflectance are also available to further help make comparisons. This platform is best used for comparing subtle traits of complex processes. Finally, the Identification pages will be discussed. They provide pertinent imagery of all key characteristics of any given process. It is the place for finding quick, essential information that matters when identifying a particular type of print.

While giving the tour of the website, focus will be on various print processes that are often complicated to distinguish apart. The database currently contains around 70 prints for exploration in all modes, of which many are from before and after the era of silver based photography. The website will continue to grow and feedback as to processes and functions that should be added in the future is strongly encouraged.


Photographer and former Research Scientist (2005-2009)

Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology

Papers presented in Topics in Photographic Preservation, Volume Fourteen have not undergone a formal process of peer review.