Guest Blogger: Sarah M. Duffy Ph.D.
Serendipitously while completing my Master’s in Historic Preservation at University of Texas at Austin, I met Carla Schroer and Mark Mudge of Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) at the 9th Annual US/ICOMOS International Symposium being held in San Francisco in 2006 where they were demonstrating the application of an innovative recording technique based on a mysterious shiny black ball. I was utterly amazed by the results they were able to achieve using a flexible, inexpensive recording approach they called Highlight-RTI (H-RTI). Corresponding with Cultural Heritage Imaging further after the conference, I decided to incorporate the technique as a major component of my graduate research at an ancient Ukrainian site called Chersonesos (2007). Having only seen their demo, I relied heavily on their electronic support during my first RTI test runs, successfully producing a set of images suitable for creating a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) after a couple of trials. In 2008, I was able to attend a CHI RTI training class at the Tauric Preserve of Ancient Chersonesos in Ukraine, that was supported by the University of Texas at Austin.
I took those early experiences with RTI into my PhD research in the Archaeology Department at University of York which more broadly examines the application of digital recording techniques within the archaeological process of investigation. Although RTI is not my focus, I continue to explore its advantages, most especially in terms of how the approach enables specialists to advance the understanding of the recorded archaeological resource. While completing my doctoral work, I was asked to produce guidance on RTI by English Heritage (the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England).
Accordingly, Multi-light Imaging for Heritage Applications was launched at the Digital Heritage 2013: Interfaces with the Past conference held at the University of York, United Kingdom on 6th July. The publication aims to offer user-friendly guidelines and advice for using the H-RTI capture method. Alternative RTI capture methods are also introduced so that readers are able to decide which capture method is most appropriate for their recording project. Several case studies demonstrate how the technology can be used to better understand the cultural heritage we record and provide solutions to some of the common challenges encountered while using this recording approach. Quick reference tips are provided throughout the document as well as links to useful publications and websites, such as the principal sources for the freely available processing software (Cultural Heritage Imaging and Hewlett Packard Labs). Contributors include Paul Bryan, Graeme Earl, Gareth Beale, Hembo Pagi and Eleni Kotoula.
The publication is freely available through English Heritage.