Digital stepping stones

This post was originally published over on the By Duddon’s Side project blog:

And this is the reason why I was taking hundred of photos of the stepping stones from all angles.

Using a process called photogrammetry, the photos can be recombined to form digital models of the rocks. Tim from Backface Studios in Birmingham was kind enough to provide the skils and the computer processing power to generate these models from the photos I took.

Look at the detail! Even the little pools of water in the crevices on the top of the rock!

Here are the links to the 3D models online so you can spin them around and zoom in as you wish:

I really like the splooshes and splashes of the water captured around the base of the rock, partially because I’m not sure if they are a single, frozen moment, or some kind of amalgamation of all of the splashes from all of the photos. The other reason I like them is because of the good shapes – this first one really reminds me of the The Great Wave off Kanagawa print by Katsushika Hokusai.

Nice as these details were, these weren’t the reason I wanted the digital models of the stepping stones. The surface colours got ditched, the bottom bits got trimmed and tidied up, and then everything got sliced up.

The purpose of all this was so that I could remake the stones and place them in the gallery. Part of my brief for the exhibition is to make it more of an embodied, sensory experience, to complement the somewhat text-heavy approach of some of the other spaces visitors will have encountered.

I read a lovely description from the Reverend Malleson (1819-1879, vicar of Duddon-in-Furness) from when he tried to follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth and made his own journey to locate the landmarks described in the sonnets. He described the act of crossing the river via the stepping stones near Seathwaite as being a “most welcome and delightful way of not unpleasant peril” and I reckon not unpleasant peril would be something rather nice to introduce into the gallery space!