Cultural Heritage Imaging


Zero Out Settings by marlinlum
June 27, 2012, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Commentary, Training, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

During the post processing phase, when you open your DNG files in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), you have an opportunity to adjust your white balance and your exposure compensation. Prior to making these adjustments …

We recommend that you create a “Zeroed Out Settings” custom preset, and apply it to the entire image set. Consider making this your default preset for Adobe Camera Raw. To do this, set all of the settings to 0, then save as a named preset using the flyout menu for the Basic image adjustments panel. In particular, make sure all sharpening options are set to 0.

zero out settings

Make sure that your Zero Out Settings match the above screen shot (click image).

Check the settings in all of the tabs. The first three tabs (Basic, Tone Curve, and Detail) have default settings that are non-zero; the radius setting on the Detail tab cannot be less than 0.5. In other tabs, default settings are already zero. (as taken from page 5 in the RTI Highlight Processing Guide v1.4)

‘Zeroing Out’ data ensures that your data is not being processed, interpreted or stylized to fit consumer tastes.

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Reconnaissance. Scouting. Preparation. by marlinlum
June 22, 2012, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Commentary, On Location, Workshops | Tags: , , , ,

Reconnaissance. Scouting. Preparation.

Marlin Lum here. Imaging Director at Cultural Heritage Imaging. This blog entry inspired by Mark Christal, strong man and multi-media super genius employed by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) at the Mall in Washington DC. It’s part of his professional game to find out as much as possibly about a topic and then present it to the public via modern visual technology. Go to the National Museum of the American Indian and check out what they are putting out in the world, really good stuff.

River Bed Pano

panorama photograph: scouting for rock art in a river bed

Mark is a graduate of CHI’s 4-Day RTI Training and a NCPTT Workshop participant where he not only refined his skills in RTI capture but also learned about photogrammetry. Aside from being a respected technologist and dedicated vegan, he is also an enthusiast of ancient Rock Art. (no- not album covers). Native American rock art.

Taking his Panorama and RTI capture skills in the field, (meaning a 14 mile mountain bike route, hot weather, lots of photo gear on back), Mark and his crew (also (former) NMAI super genius Video Master, Kevin Cartwright) entered the wilderness on a reconnaissance mission. Mission: to locate a petroglyph, shoot a Pano and scout it for future RTI capture.

I also have to mention, as stated by Mark, ‘that the park ranger had never heard of this (culture) site’. Mark and Kevin only found it after actively looking/hunting, and having followed a good tip from a kayaker. According to Mark, ‘this might be the only known on-site rock art in Maryland’. Mark goes on to say that, “The only other site (Bald Friar) was dynamited in the 20’s because it was about to be flooded.  Parts of that site are now spread across the state in a number of museums and culture centers”. Uhmm. Can you say, ‘sense of urgency’, get out there and document people!

A long time ago I used to work in Hollywood where I knew a location scout. It was his job to discover everything, everything about that location and bring that information back to the unit. His checklist asked questions like: Where is this on the map? What direction does it face? Where is the afternoon sun? Can I get a crew here? Do I need extension cords? Whats the scale of the artwork? What lens do I need? Is my tripod in dirt or water? Who’s land is this? What’s the deal with the roaming horned bull? (true story btw). And where is the crew bathroom?

You get my point. The more you know about your subject (and its owners {past and present}, the better). A thorough knowledge base about what exactly you intend to RTI is essential for creating a successful final product. It’s like anything else, knowing what equipment you’re gonna need (and what you don’t want to carry {or bike} for 14 miles) is gonna make or break it (your back that is).

Hollywood crews might research and setup a shot for months, only to have the actor whisper his lines in 40 seconds.

I will draw a conclusion to this blog and just point you to the large JPEG that Mark Christal email me from his Recon mission into the hot sun. (For those of you shooting in the comfort of a photo lab, you will have your chance.)

Mark’s Recon Pano gives us a glimpse into the beauty, the full shade during full sun, the water level during that time of year, the artwork and the scale (note calibration stick). And for those of you who are curious, yes, this location IS top secret, so, no use in hacking or looking. One last thought, shoot a capture when the water is running low.

Scout and be happy!

check out the flat pano image here on Flickr! Click on the Hi-Res image – can *you find the rock art? (look for the calibration stick)

Go directly to a large the jpeg: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markchristal/3938203809/sizes/o/in/photostream/



RTI Experimentation with a Copper Breastplate in the Florida State Bureau of Archaeological Research by marlinlum

This is a Guest Blog by Photographer Joseph Gamble.

As an affiliate with the University of South Florida’s Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies, I traveled with a team of archaeologists doing imaging research and 3D laser scanning of artifacts to Tallahassee last year to work in the Florida State Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR) and experiment with RTI on a number of Native American artifacts from Lake Jackson, Florida. AIST Directors, Drs. Travis Doering and Lori Collins along with AIST archaeologist Dr. Jeff DuVernay, helped me to manage a challenging RTI of a Native American copper breastplate as well as other copper and metal objects from Lake Jackson and several other Florida sites.

Native American copper breastplate from Lake Jackson, Florida

The artifacts were from the ancient Lake Jackson settlement, a civic-ceremonial center of a Mississippian chiefdom that flourished across parts of northern Florida between c. 900-1500 A.D. The breastplate (23 X 54 cm) was cold-hammered from a sheet of native copper and contains extensive iconographic and symbolic that today are faint and difficult to discern. In the 1970s, the piece was encased in a clear Plexiglas, cube-like chamber that had been infused with argon gas as a conservation measure to halt corrosion of the artifact. The reflective polymer barrier that enclosed and protected breastplate seemed to pose an insurmountable obstacle for its accurate high resolution documentation. To stabilize the breastplate it had also been pressed into a plaster base to prevent further fragmentation and distortion leaving the piece with a cracked or crenelated surface texture. This condition was an additional for the documentation because of the shadowing that further limited the usability of the image set.

To acquire an inclusive data set that would contain sufficient usable images to build an RTI, we placed the case on black velvet, mounted the black balls and commenced to shoot. The total image count came to 156 raw files of which 57 were used to build the RTI file and, much to our delight, it worked well.

View the Final RTI File by clicking here (you tube video).

Joseph Gamble is a previous 4-Day RTI Training graduate. You can learn more about Joseph Gamble Photography at: http://www.jcgamble.com/

You can learn more about the Alliance For Integrated Spatial Technologies at: http://aist.usf.edu/



Canon Vs Nikon by marlinlum
June 1, 2012, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Commentary, Equipment | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was recently asked, ‘What DSLR camera is better for RTI data capture? ‘Canon or Nikon?’ The answer is like Godzilla Vs King Kong. Its gonna be a good fight.

The Short Answer is that either camera will work.

In the hands of a professional photographer, they are both very similar. The difference is the workflow – what you’re familiar with, what high quality lenses you own, and what equipment you’ve already got in your gear bag and studio ——— and what “Capture/acquisition Software” you decide to start a relationship with. (think Mind/Body – these two need to be pulling on the same oar)

Capture Software

Before you purchase a camera, you need to examine *how you’re going to interface with your DSLR when you’re shooting in *tethered* mode. Here’s the scenario, your stage is setup, your object is in place, you’re tethered to the camera via USB cable, and you launch your ‘capture software’ App. You need complete command of the basics : Composition, Exposure and Focus.

DSLR Remote Pro for Macs (Canon -> Mac)

http://www.breezesys.com/DSLRRemotePro4Mac/index.htm  |  http://www.breezesys.com/products.htm

The most stable Capture Software that we have used (bare in mind that we use Macs and Canons), is coded by a third party guy, Chris Breeze. He has taken the (Canon and Nikon) SDK and developed for a “combo” of Canon, Nikon – Mac, PC configurations. I’m not going to deep dive into the setups, but what I am going to state is that (at this moment in time), the Breeze software is stable, solid, is easy to use, and hardly *ever crashes. The user interface is Ok, a bit bare bones, but this tool gets the job done, and thats what we all want. Again, bare in mind that we use Macs and Canons (we have only used the Canon—Mac version). This software is installed on all our computers is our goto tool for image acquisition procedures.

The main user interface is a bit bare bones, but DSLR Remote Pro is solid and can handle minute focus adjustments needed for RTI production environments.

The last version of the Nikon Control Pro 2 software that I experienced worked really well, *except for the fact that it was difficult to check focus and scroll around bc that particular window has/had a restricted pixel size. It wasn’t as small as a thumbnail, but lets say that it did not take advantage of your screen size. All of the other functions were well behaved. Check it here: http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Imaging-Software/25366/Camera-Control-Pro-2.html

The Canon Capture Utility (free with the purchase of a new camera) has a great interface, looks clean, works well, but it could be better, much better — it could be more stable. Sometimes it just flakes out and crashes. We used it for years with lots of happy moments, but towards the end we had a bitter break up. As RTI grew and we pushed the technology, we began to experience flaws. Specifically, with the ‘Live View Focus Controller functions’ (and its algorithms). Numerous frustrating crashes occurred when we asked it perform fine focusing adjustments in the ‘magnified mode’. This is pretty important considering that RTI *requires the subject to be in focus. Software crashes were even more problematic when we used a modified IR / UV camera — for some reason(s) that we can not explain, the software just didn’t adjust well to the different wavelengths of light under those conditions.

 A few more comments:

If you use ‘good Glass’ (think prime lenses+superior optics) both the Canon and Nikon are going to get you professional results. We know many many Canon RTI shooters as well as a few Nikon shooters (and hasselblad-er(s). I think that the majority of users tend to be Canon. When we are asked to purchase equipment for client(s) we always steer them towards the Canon family.

With that said, I have seen professionals purchase a suite of Nikon gear and then *re-convert all the new gear and go to Canon. (and from ongoing conversations, they didn’t go back to nikon).

At CHI we’re Canon all the way.

Thanks for reading, Happy F-stop.

-marlin.

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