Light, shadows and surface characteristics: the multispectral Portable Light Dome
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- Watteeuw, L., Hameeuw, H., Vandermeulen, B. et al. Appl. Phys. A (2016) 122: 976. doi:10.1007/s00339-016-0499-4
A multispectral, multidirectional, portable and dome-shaped acquisition system is developed within the framework of the research projects RICH (KU Leuven) and EES (RMAH, Brussels) in collaboration with the ESAT–VISICS research group (KU Leuven). The multispectral Portable Light Dome (MS PLD) consists of a hemispherical structure, an overhead camera and LEDs emitting in five parts of the electromagnetic spectrum regularly covering the dome’s inside surface. With the associated software solution, virtual relighting and enhancements can be applied in a real-time, interactive manner. The system extracts genuine 3D and shading information based on a photometric stereo algorithm. This innovative approach allows for instantaneous alternations between the computations in the infrared, red, green, blue and ultraviolet spectra. The MS PLD system has been tested for research ranging from medieval manuscript illuminations to ancient Egyptian artefacts. Preliminary results have shown that it documents and measures the 3D surface structure of objects, re-visualises underdrawings, faded pigments and inscriptions, and examines the MS results in combination with the actual relief characteristics of the physical object. Newly developed features are reflection maps and histograms, analytic visualisations of the reflection properties of all separate LEDs or selected areas. In its capacity as imaging technology, the system acts as a tool for the analysis of surface materials (e.g. identification of blue pigments, gold and metallic surfaces). Besides offering support in answering questions of attribution and monitoring changes and decay of materials, the PLD also contributes to the identification of materials, all essential factors when making decisions in the conservation protocol.