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What is RTI?

What is RTI?

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is an interactive photographic recording technique. Conventional photography consists of the production of an image depicting a scene lit in a particular way.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging allows the production of images within which the light can be moved and altered.

This virtual ‘relighting’ of a scene or object means that details which were not visible in a standard photograph can often be seen and allows information relating to the colour and reflectance of a surface to be more accurately assessed.

How does it work?

RTI images are produced by taking multiple photographs of an object from a fixed camera position. Within each image the lightsource is moved to a different location around the object, effectively forming a dome of lights.

Using freely available RTI software these images are compiled into a single image file within which the user can interactively control the lightsource.

RTI data allow users to do much more than virtually move the light. The data can be used to virtually alter the reflective characteristics of an object, to add additional light sources to an image and to procude estimated 3D surface geometry. New tools for utilising RTI data are being made available all the time.

Can I make RTIs?

The capture process is simple and involves only standard photographic equipment, all neccessary software is available freely online.

We are currently filming a demonstration video for carrying out your own RTI, which we will add to the site as soon as we can.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert Goulden permalink
    24 November, 2013 5:53 pm

    Is this software available to individuals? I am about to record the memorials in our village church and looking at the condition of some of the stones it would be invaluable!

    • 12 February, 2014 4:21 pm

      Hi Robert, this software is freely available to anyone. You can download it from the Cultural Heritage Imaging website: The process is a little complicated to begin with, but after a few attempts you’ll get much faster. We find that we can survey an average graveyard in a day (weather permitting!). You will also need to download the PTMFitter software from the Hewlett Packard website to get the RTIBuilder software to work. This is also free, and is available here: Please do contact me if you have any questions, or would like to organise a demonstration. We’re always looking for new case studies! Thanks, Nicole nicole.beale AT soton DOT ac DOT uk


  1. Branscombe Visit « Community RTI Project
  2. Royal Garrison Church, Portsmouth « Rediscovering Our Churches

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