Twelve Apostles, Ilkley Moor

Digital Modelling of the Historic Environment

Over the last decade, advances in digital photography and photogrammetry have led to rapid developments in digital modelling techniques, particularly in the field of Structure From Motion (SfM). Some of these developments have lessened the need for specialist equipment, cameras and even skill sets, and has resulted in the release of various user-friendly and free cloud-based applications. 

An online SfM application from Microsoft called Photosynth allows users to create and view three dimensional navigable environments and panoramas from multiple overlapping two dimensional digital imagery. Full resolution of each image is maintained within the model, allowing for both micro and macro contexts to be explored through the applications extensive zooming capabilities. Points of interest known as ‘highlights’ can be selected and added to individual image frames to convey relevant information to the user. A sparse density three dimensional point cloud representation of the scene is also created for the viewer to explore. 

The resulting models are an excellent way of displaying and disseminating features and landscapes to a wider audience. 

In addition, a trial of the ‘Polynomial Texture Mapping’ technique was carried out in the spring of 2013. More information on this technique can be found in the 'Surface Textures of Carved Rocks Revealed' news story: click here

For a more detailed discussion of digital modelling technigues, see:  Stroud, R. 2012. Digital Modelling. In Brown, L.D., Boughey, K., Paley, D., Spencer, D., Croasdale, J., Hallam, D. and McIlwaine, J. Stanbury Hill Project: Archaeological Investigation of a Rock Art Site. Bingley: Bingley and District Local History Society. 32-39.

Photosynth imagery:

  • Carved stones - Click here
  • Landscapes - Click here