Lennart Nilsson Award 1999

James Henderson, United States of America

“For his work to reveal significantly faded Indian pictographs by developing the cross-polarized enhancement procedure.”

Biomedical photographer James Henderson (b. 1945) has been honored with the Lennart Nilsson Award for his work using advanced optical technology with artificial light sources and polarized light. In doing so, Henderson has been able to reveal ancient Indian pictographs and symbols on rock surfaces that were previously invisible to the eye. The Henderson cross-polarized enhancement procedure is now extensively used to capture substantially faded pigments on film, a process that is integral to creating photographic documentation of archaeological materials.

This groundbreaking technique of rendering ancient and prehistoric images, including stone inscriptions and cave paintings, has made it possible to create invaluable historical records of pictographs and other pigmented artifacts for posterity. Not only are Henderson’s photographs uniquely beautiful, indispensable scientific records, they also capture the imagination and fascination of the public, enabling them to better understand the past.