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Underwater reflectance transformation imaging: a technology for in situ underwater cultural heritage object-level recording

Selmo, David, Sturt, Fraser, Miles, James, Edward, Basford, Philip, Malzbender, Tom, Martinez, Kirk, Thompson, Charlie, Earl, Graeme and Bevan, George (2017) Underwater reflectance transformation imaging: a technology for in situ underwater cultural heritage object-level recording Journal of Electronic Imaging, 26, (1) (doi:10.1117/1.JEI.26.1.011029).

Record type: Article


There is an increasing demand for high-resolution recording of in situ underwater cultural heritage. Reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) has a proven track record in terrestrial contexts for acquiring high-resolution diagnostic data at small scales. The research presented here documents the first adaptation of RTI protocols to the subaquatic environment, with a scuba-deployable method designed around affordable off-the-shelf technologies. Underwater RTI (URTI) was used to capture detail from historic shipwrecks in both the Solent and the western Mediterranean. Results show that URTI can capture submillimeter levels of qualitative diagnostic detail from in situ archaeological material. In addition, this paper presents the results of experiments to explore the impact of turbidity on URTI. For this purpose, a prototype fixed-lighting semisubmersible RTI photography dome was constructed to allow collection of data under controlled conditions. The signal-to-noise data generated reveals that the RGB channels of underwater digital images captured in progressive turbidity degraded faster than URTI object geometry calculated from them. URTI is shown to be capable of providing analytically useful object-level detail in conditions that would render ordinary underwater photography of limited use.

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Accepted/In Press date: 2 February 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 28 February 2017
Published date: February 2017
Additional Information: Related to the paper: Archaeological applications of polynomial texture mapping: analysis, conservation and representation
Keywords: imaging , RTI, Archaeology, underwater, cultural heritage, turbidity, polynomial texture mapping, maritime archaeology
Organisations: Geology & Geophysics, Ocean & Earth Science Technical, Web & Internet Science, EEE, Archaeology


Local EPrints ID: 407650
ISSN: 1017-9909
PURE UUID: 7df019c5-aae3-4729-a72c-3409f9f343ed
ORCID for Philip Basford: ORCID iD
ORCID for Kirk Martinez: ORCID iD
ORCID for Graeme Earl: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 16 Apr 2017 17:09
Last modified: 11 Aug 2017 16:31

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Author: David Selmo
Author: Fraser Sturt
Author: James, Edward Miles
Author: Philip Basford ORCID iD
Author: Tom Malzbender
Author: Kirk Martinez ORCID iD
Author: Graeme Earl ORCID iD
Author: George Bevan

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