During the month of May we had the pleasure of doing more imaging work with Rock Art . This has included shooting some Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and some photogrammetry sequences at a couple of different sites. More importantly, we have had a chance to present some of this work to folks researching and recording rock art. We presented a workshop at theIFRAO conference in Albuquerque a couple of weeks ago. This was our first time attending the international conference. We were able to go to papers on all aspects of rock art research from all over the world. One of the things I love about rock art is that there are some things we just can’t know particularly about the older material where we don’t have living descendants from the culture to help us understand it. I find joy in that mystery.
One thing that is really clear is that rock art sites all over the planet are at risk and a lot of rock art is being lost every year. This is due to a wide range of factors from vandalism, to development, to earthquakes, to flooding and fires, to things as simple as natural rock falls. Part of our mission at CHI is to get tools to document these sites into the hands of folks who care about them. It is increasingly clear to me that teaching people how to capture the photographic image sequences that will allow the generation of full 3 D models, could really help us have records for future generations, and could provide a baseline of the current state of sites that would help monitor the changing conditions. The great thing about this approach is that it just takes a digital camera (and a monopod helps) and a bit of training about how to take the images in order to ensure complete coverage and high quality results. There are a number of different commercial packages available, and also some open source efforts, and the great thing is that how you capture the images is the same no matter where you want to process the images to get high quality 3D. We are now working on developing photogrammetry training for folks working in archaeology, historic sites, rock art sites, and related fields. Even if the data isn’t all processed in the short term, archiving the photographs that are properly collected will mean that anyone can create the 3D models in the future. To be clear, I don’t think anything takes the place of being in an actual site, and that it is critically important to protect and preserve these sites. But, given the fragility of these places, and also the inaccessibility of many of them, we should be gathering as much high quality data as we can as inexpensively as we can for ourselves and for future generations.