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HIghlight RTI capture setup
HIghlight RTI capture setup

Reflectance transformation imaging (RTI)

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is a mechanism for manipulating multiple images under different lighting conditions to capture very subtle surface information. At a basic level, it operates under the principle that a surface illuminated at a grazing angle has different luminance to a surface lit from above. By taking many photographs in controlled conditions, the RTI technique captures a very precise record of changing surface shape.

At Portus, the team has employed this methodology in a variety of circumstances, from the recording of portions of buildings and excavated contexts, through to microscopic examination of finds. Such records have proven a useful means to assess necessary conservation measures and degradation over time, but more importantly they have allowed archaeologists and other specialists to identify very degraded details on objects such as brick stamps and coins. Not only is RTI quick and simple to use, but it can be very low cost and, as such, is available to a broad range of researchers.

Ian capturing a brick stamp using the Highlight RTI method

Ian capturing a brick stamp using the “Highlight RTI” method; conventional finds photography is going on in the background - Hembo Pagi © University of Southampton

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This article is from the free online course:

Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

University of Southampton

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