Video: Photogrammetry for Rock Art

photogrammetry video icon

Watch this brief video to see an example of a petroglyph rock art panel as a 3D model created using photogrammetry.

Related Publications

CHI contributed a chapter in this book:


Book cover for A Companion to Rock Art

Chapter Title: “Robust, Scientifically Reliable Rock Art Documentation from Digital Photographs”

See also this publication, which won “Best Paper” at the VAST 2006 conference:

“New Reflection Transformation Imaging Methods for Rock Art and Multiple-Viewpoint Display”

Rock Art Recording: CHI's Related Blog Post

CHI's Carla Schroer posted a blog entry about the imaging work she and CHI co-founder Mark Mudge did while at the IFRAO 2013 conference in Albuquerque in early June 2013. More…

NCPTT Grant Funds Training for Rock Art Study

RTI Shoot in San Francisco for NCPTT Project

In February 2009, Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI), in collaboration with its partner organizations, was awarded a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) to fund the development of a training program for three-dimensional (3D) digital rock art documentation and preservation. More…

See also the press release about this project.

Preserving Petroglyphs at Legend Rock, Wyoming

In August 2006, the CHI team visited world-class rock-art sites in Legend Rock, Wyoming to collaborate with experts from the local area. See our Flickr gallery of photographs of this event.


Petroglyph from Legend Rock, Wyoming

Petroglyph from Legend Rock State Park, Wyoming



Rock Art

Shooting rock art in Portugal's Côa Valley

Photographing rock art in Portugal's Côa Valley

Acquiring detailed photographs of rock art is crucial, because the incised or painted images are subject to weathering, erosion, and vandalism. In addition, rock art is often situated in remote locations, making it difficult to view.

Imaging technologies such as Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) are well suited to capturing images of rock art. The Highlight RTI method is portable and flexible.

Combining RTI with photogrammetry, as CHI did in an NCPTT-sponsored workshop, results in powerful and useful tools.

Rock Art Video: RTI Example from the Côa Valley in Portugal

The video below, from CHI’s Côa Valley (Portugal) project, shows how RTI allows viewers to study complicated examples that were engraved or incised repeatedly over time. New tools under development in CHI's RTI suite, including the Collaborative Algorithmic Rendering Engine (CARE), will only add to the value of RTI technology for rock art imaging.

Note: this video does not have an audio track.

Rock Art - RTI Example - Cultural Heritage Imaging

CHI and Rock Art: Examples

Here are some other examples of CHI's work in the field of rock art.

CHI Project: UNESCO Prehistoric Rock Art Expedition

Learn about the CHI team's expedition to this intriguing rock art site in the remote Côa Valley in Portugal, where they applied CHI digital imaging tools and technologies to create 3D reflection transformation images (RTIs) of two types of prehistoric rock art.

Blog and Photos: Magdalenian Rock Art in the South of France

Read the CHI team's 2009 blog about their expedition to the south of France where they used RTI and photogrammetry in a photo shoot of Paleolithic material there.

Below is a slide show from that expedition.

Note: Click on any individual photograph to see its caption.


Illustrated Example: Rock Art With Expanded Surface Detail

The photograph below shows a closeup of a petroglyph from the Legend Rock Site in Wyoming. The expanded visual details were derived computationally using Algorithmic Rendering. There is a hunting scene carved in the rock, but it is difficult to see in the original photo because of a built-up patina. Using “Exaggerated Shading Technique” (Rusinkiewicz et al; Toler-Franklin et al) applied to normal maps extracted from multiple images, we are able to enhance the appearance of the subtle indentations.

Details of petroglyph derived by algorithmic rendering

Algorithmic Rendering images provided by Szymon Rusinkiewicz and Corey Toler-Franklin