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Photogrammetry for Archaeology

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Photogrammetry for Archaeology

Discover the Power of Photogrammetry in Archaeology

Photogrammetry, creates highly accurate records of topology, objects, features, and landscapes. In the field of archaeology, the use of photogrammetric methods has witnessed a remarkable surge in recent years, enabling comprehensive documentation of everything from expansive landscapes to intricate artifact models.

At Commendium, we have worked on numerous projects focused on capturing the essence and context of diverse archaeological sites around the world. Using drone photography, we employ oblique and top-down aerial shots to generate astonishingly realistic 3D models that vividly depict the surroundings.

How photogrammetry works

Photogrammetry relies on capturing a series of overlapping photographs of the subject or site from multiple angles. These photographs are then processed using specialised software that analyses the images, identifies common points, and calculates their relative positions and orientations to generate a 3D model.

Understanding the Process:

Equipment Requirements:

To embark on a photogrammetry journey, you’ll need the following essential equipment:
    • Camera: A digital camera capable of capturing high-resolution images is recommended. DSLR or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses are commonly used for their flexibility.
    • Tripod: Sturdy tripods provide stability and ensure consistent framing across images.
    • Targets: In some cases, using targets, ‘distinctive markers or patterns placed strategically in the scene’, can enhance accuracy and alignment during the processing stage.
    • Optional: Drones equipped with cameras can capture aerial photographs, enabling detailed site documentation and topographic mapping.

Important Considerations:

To achieve the best results with photogrammetry in archaeology, keep the following in mind:
      • Lighting: Optimal lighting conditions are crucial. Aim for even lighting without harsh shadows or blown-out highlights.
      • Overlap: Ensure sufficient overlap between consecutive photographs (typically around 60-80%) to facilitate accurate reconstruction.
      • Consistency: Maintain consistency in camera settings (e.g., focal length, aperture, ISO) throughout the capture process to ensure uniformity in image quality and scale.
      • Scale: Incorporating a scale reference, such as a ruler or known object, in the photographs provides a reliable size reference for accurate measurements in the final model.

Capturing Techniques:

Consider the following techniques to capture photographs for photogrammetry:
        • Site-Level Photogrammetry: Capture multiple images from different angles, ensuring coverage of all desired elements in the scene. Vary heights, perspectives, and distances to capture comprehensive data.
        • Object-Level Photogrammetry: When focusing on individual artifacts, capture multiple images from various angles while maintaining a consistent distance and lighting setup. Incorporate close-ups to capture intricate details.

Software and Processing:

Choose suitable photogrammetry software based on your specific requirements. Popular options include Agisoft Metashape, RealityCapture, and Pix4Dmapper. These software packages facilitate the reconstruction of 3D models using the series of captured images. Each software has its own workflow, but generally, it involves importing the images, aligning them, generating a dense point cloud, and finally, generating the textured 3D model.

Achieving Optimal Results:

To maximise the quality of your photogrammetric models:

    • Ensure sharp, high-resolution images with proper exposure and focus.
    • Minimise camera movement between shots and use a remote trigger or self-timer to avoid shaking.
    • Remove any lens distortion by calibrating the camera using software or lens profiles.
    • Experiment with different camera angles and perspectives to capture all desired details effectively.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your photogrammetry journey in archaeology. Remember to practice and refine your techniques as you gain experience, and don’t hesitate to seek expert advice or consult with professionals in the field. 

Technical know how

Our skilled team possess the technical know-how and experience to harness this powerful tool effectively. Let us be your partner and together, we can breathe life into ancient artifacts and unveil hidden narratives, preserving our heritage for generations to come.

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