3D printed photography exhibition

Photogrammetry and 3D printing capture London in bronze

  • Written by Lana Lozova
    Aug 4, 2016

This summer, passengers at London’s Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 will have access to a groundbreaking 3D printed photography exhibit. Photographer Henry Reichhold partnered with Nikon, AutoDesk, and Ultimaker for a project that transforms live 2D photography into 3D sculpture and explores a whole new type of art.  

Photogrammetry as art

Photography as art has been around as long as photography itself. Advances in photo technology have for the most part centered around how the image is captured, not how it is presented.

When 3D cameras came along, they didn’t really produce 3D images, the 2D prints just looked that way.  

Photogrammetry changed everything. It’s a revolutionary process that converts multiple 2D images into a single 3D image using advanced software. The 3D image can then be rendered with a 3D printer.

Artists and photographers like Henry Reichhold are breaking down the barriers between 2D and 3D art in unique and interesting ways. The Metamorphosis exhibit is just one sample.

The Metamorphosis process

Metamorphosis captures the architecture and people of London and freezes them in detailed bronze reliefs. Scenes include landmarks like Piccadilly Circus and more common spots like parks and bus stops.

Reichhold used an advanced Nikon D5 camera to capture the detailed photographs needed to create a 3D image. He harnessed the camera’s high-speed photography function to capture up to 140 images in about 10 seconds.

The images went into Autodesk ReMake to transform them from 2D pixels to 3D triangles. ArtCAM Pro converted the 3D images into digital models of the molds. Reichhold deployed about 20 Ultimaker 2 Extended 3D printers to create the molds that metamorphasized the images into 3D sculptures.  

The casting in bronze by PangoStudios used a cold cast process that mixes a metal powder with resin. The entire casting process took Reichhold about five days.

3D printed exhibition
3D printed art
3D printing custom molds


Ultimaker as an artist’s tool

Reichhold had extensive experience photographing London but no experience with 3D cameras or 3D printing. Finding the right technology was crucial.

The software was a good start but I still had nothing in my hand. I started looking into 3D printers and was really impressed by Ultimaker’s vision and willingness to test new waters. The printer itself, the Ultimaker 2 Extended, was perfect; so the project now had most of the pieces needed to get underway.

Use 3D printing to unleash your creativity and your art. Experimentation is easy and you can easily customize and refine at no extra cost. Discover how you can use Ultimaker to push the boundaries of your art. Then visit Metamorphosis and get inspired. It’s located before security in the departures zone. No passport or boarding pass is required.