Scientific Photogrammetry Workflows, IIIF, and Cultural Heritage Imaging, Inc.

Mar 21, 2023

In the Fall of 2022, Cultural Heritage Technical developer Richel Cuyler and Indigenous Knowledges fellow Zachary Miller began digital humanities research in the field of photogrammetry using the connected Gordon Day Abenaki basketry at the Dartmouth College Library and Hood Museum of Art. Photogrammetry is an imaging technique that uses photographs to create accurate and precise 3D models of objects, structures, and environments. In museums, photogrammetry has become an increasingly important tool for conservation, research, and education, providing methods to identify damage or deterioration in objects and track changes over time, help conservationists identify the best methods for preserving and restoring objects, and increasing accessibility to fragile or rare objects that may not be able to be handled or displayed in traditional ways. Of particular interest to Zach and Richel is the possibility of collaborating with Indigenous communities to provide added context and develop methods for reciprocal knowledge sharing between Dartmouth and the communities represented in our collections. 

Through attending a formal four-day photogrammetry training workshop at Cultural Heritage Imaging in San Francisco in February, 2023, Zachary and Richel gained knowledge about scientific imaging and error reduction workflow techniques in photogrammetry from CHI staff Carla Schroer (Founder/Director), Mark Mudge ( Founder/President), and Marlin Lum (Imaging Director) to be shared with Library and Museum imaging staff and researchers through a series of on campus training workshops this summer. With this training, attendants will be able to more fully understand how to implement and build accurate 3D workflows into their research or professional practice.

CHI Photogrammetry Training in San Francisco

Following attendance of the IIIF conference at Harvard in Cambridge last Spring, Cultural Heritage Technical Developer Richel Cuyler has identified opportunities for cross implementation of IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) annotations into ongoing 3D research through continued engagement with IIIF technology. What is IIIF? IIIF provides a framework for delivering and sharing high-resolution images, metadata, and related content, with a focus on enhancing access, interoperability, and reusability of cultural heritage materials. At its core, IIIF is made up of a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that standardize how digital images and their associated metadata are shared between software applications. These APIs enable interoperability between different digital image repositories and image-viewing applications, and enable users to interact with high-resolution images in different ways. Zachary and Richel are excited to see the possibilities enabled by IIIF to link 2D and 3D collections between the Library and Museum.

CHI Photogrammetry Training Studio in San Francisco

The example of photogrammetry below is a 20th century basket by Abenaki artist Sophie Nolette Salvas (Wawanolett) (1911–2007) is made of wood splints, sweetgrass, cellophane cord, and red dye. Mrs. Wawanolett is from the St. Francis Abenaki community at Odanak outside of Quebec in Canada, and her work was acquired as a result of the anthropologist Gordon Day’s travels to their community in the 1960’s. The Gordon Day collection is held at the Rauner special collections library and is one of several connected Indigenous-related collections held between the Library and Museum. The Gordon Day papers contain research materials related to the St. Francis Abenaki Village at Odanak and emphasize documentation of the Abenaki language.

Some of our next steps after training include scheduling future reshoots and object focus for ongoing research and photogrammetry experimentation and practice, as well as organizing a joint Hood and Library staff photogrammetry workshop.