Sunday, September 30, 2012

Topographic Photography

Having been an avid photographer for about 40 years, straight documentation photography seemed very static.  Having looked at topographic maps frequently as an architect one can see the contour lines generated with stereo photography and occasionally using field survey measurements and interpolation.

A topographic map is a series of parallel planes intersecting a shape.  The points of intersection are drawn showing the shape of the surface.

To apply this technology in photography, a source of parallel planes of light is needed. I have seen many photographs using the light and shadows of venetian blinds to wash over the subject.  However to achieve the topographic lines the bands of light need to be almost perpendicular to the form and the lines parallel to the surfaces.

To get this source of lighting, parallel lines were generated in Adobe Illustrator. Different space and line widths produced varying results.

These patterns are projected from a digital projector at right angles and parallel to the subject and adjusted for best results and focus.  The studio work at the time was figure drawings and paintings.  Photography was used to capture model images for painting.  Hence models were used for the experimentation of topographic photography.

Improved angle comes with experimentation. 2008

Developing angle and pose

Much better angle and pose for the contours.

The work has developed since this image but these samples are sufficient for the explanation of the process.  More developed images can be found on in the section of Figures.

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