Sacred portraits: Photographer makes images for JSP project

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 21 2009 12:15 a.m. MDT

Welden

C. Andersen says his career photographing Hollywood stars for movie

posters and musicians for album covers pales in comparison to the

portraiture project he is undertaking now.Andersen now takes the most important historical documents in the

archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and makes

"portraits" of them for the volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

__IMAGE1__Original manuscripts of revelations now in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith's pocket diary and other journals,

church ledgers, the printer's manuscript for the Book of Mormon are

all part of Andersen's work. "I'm kind of an eyewitness to history, in

a way," he said of the time he spends with these historical treasures.

The first two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers Project have been

published so far. The church expects it will take 15 years and a total

of 30 printed volumes to complete the project.

A convergence of the right technology and artistry "came together at

the moment we needed it" to make the photographic images true portraits

and "not just Xerox copies."

On the technology side, the latest 39-megapixel Hasselblad H3DII-39

multishot camera, sophisticated software and computers capable of

working with 288-megabyte raw capture files allow Andersen to make

images so sharp and detailed that individual fibers in the paper are

crisply visible. On the artistic side, the lighting is so carefully

designed that each of those fibers has subtle light-and-shadow detail.

Viewing the overall photograph looks as much as possible like viewing

the original document.

Researchers can examine the documents in greater detail, enlarging

the photographs on a computer screen, than they could by holding the

original and examining it with a magnifying loupe, Andersen said.

About 650 of the images Andersen has captured so far are in the

"Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books" oversized

volume of the Joseph Smith Papers Project released Sept. 22. This

volume is specifically referred to as a "Facsimile Edition" because of

the full-color, full-page photographs. With high-quality images of rare

documents written in Joseph Smith's hand now in print, "I don't have to

tell you who Joseph Smith is. You look at this, and you'll know."

"Seeing

the handwritten revelations for yourself is a powerful spiritual

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