Putting decorated pot, and more, under multiple spotlights!

An example of the detail captured on an RTI model - this one showing an incised stone from the Ness. (Michael Sharpe)
An example of the detail captured on an RTI model – this one showing a section of an incised stone from the Ness. (Michael Sharpe)
Chris at work on the RTI photographic rig.

To the uninitiated, it might look as though Chris Marshall (right) has secured a sci-fi prop from a 1970s BBC TV programme (Blake’s Seven anyone?)

What he is actually doing is testing out an RTI photography rig that will allow detailed examination and recording primarily of our decorated pottery and to some extent smaller stone pieces.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is a photographic method that takes multiple photos of a subject, each with a different (but controlled) light source.

The pictures are then combined, using computer software, to create a highly detailed model of the object that can be lit from all angles and examined on screen.

The resulting images, like the ones shown above, often reveal surface details not visible during normal examination.

Our thanks to go to all those who initiated and helped bring this prototype to fruition — Jan Blatchford, Jim Bright, Chris Marshall, Mark Newton and Marc Smith — it was a real team effort.

Mark, the team’s 3D printer man, is already planning to 3D print a much larger dome — Mark II — to accommodate larger artefacts, primarily pot but also worked and incised stone — though after the trials and tribulations of the actual development and wiring of the remarkable gizmo – Marc 1 – by Jan and son Marc over their Christmas holidays, this may have to wait! What talent!

For some more technical details of RTI and to view some examples, click here.

A pot fragment ready for the RTI treatment...
A pot fragment ready for the RTI treatment…
... and the model with controllable light source.
… and the model with controllable light source.