Chapter 2: The Kölner Dome

Besides the Highlight method (H-RTI), you can also use a specially contructed dome. Hence, let's call it the Dome method (D-RTI). There are commercial domes you can buy or freely available instructions to build yourself online. I myself stuck to the free option and constructed domes myself. As I was doing this during my time as an assistant in Cologne, I called it the Kölner Dome (get it?).

The functionality of the domes is pretty simple, but utilising them can pose a challenge, when not trained. In this chapter, I want to give an overview of how they work and how to use them. Once this is all internalised, working with the domes is a lot of fun and can yield stunning results.

The gear

As with H-RTI you need a bit of gear. You still need a camera, the spheres, colour chart and scales. You don't need a tripod anymore, no weights, no lights and no remote triggers. All is more or less integrated in the dome, so you simply set it up and start taking photos. Concerning the gear you need, you can simply head over to chapter one and read about the camera, spheres, colour chart and scales there. What is important here are the domes. In Cologne, we have two kinds: a smaller 50cm dome that is more or less usable right out of the box and a large 100cm dome that needs to be assembled first.

The small Kölner Dome

So the small dome is pretty simple to set up. You basically open the box and store away the lid. You then need to unscrew two security bolts that keep the dome attached to the base of the box. You find both bolts at each side of the dome. Just unscrew them by hand and put them aside for later. You can now take the dome out of the box and place it on a table. You can simply grab the metal bars of the dome, as they are pretty stable. When the dome is securly put on a table, you can remove the last security bolt at the front of the dome, that is simply holding its upper part in place. When you have removed that, you should be able to open the dome from the front. Sometimes the lid stucks to the base, so an easy trick here is to put your hand into the dome from the top (where the camera should go later) and press against the base while your other hand should open up the lid.

The last step is to set up the camera holding system. To do this, detach the H-shaped metal bars from the top and store the white plastic holders with the security bolts. You should be able to stick the H-shaped metal bars into the metal holders of the metal frame. If not, there should be a small imbus tool in one of the grey side boxes, which you will need to loosen and tighten the small screws of the metal bar system. Make sure the H-shaped metal bars stick correctly in the metal holders and are tightened with the screws. The horizontal bar should be... well, horizontal. If everything is secured, you can unscrew the camera arm from the side and attach it to the horizontal bar from the H-shaped metal bars. We will adjust this a little later, for now just tighten the grip of the camera arm. You can also detach the eletronic box from the back plate of the dome, we will connect it later.

The large Kölner Dome

The large dome is a bit more complicated. First you need to unscrew the security bolts on the bottom ends of the dome quarters. When unscrewed, you can take them out and store for later. In order to take out the dome quarters, you need to first remove the wooden holding block. They are stacked together, so best way is to hold the one below the one you want to take out with one hand and pull on the top one to remove. Do that on both sides and you should be able to remove the first quarter. Repeat the process until you have removed all the quarters of the dome. Next step is to remove the security bolt on the ring quarters at the bottom of the box. Simply unscrew and you can take each ring quarter out one after the other. You can also loosen the security strap on the grey boxes and find the one labelled "Schrauben". In it you will find a small imbus tool and a lot of screws.

Now you have to assemble the ring and the dome. The dome is fairly easy. Simply find two corresponding parts by looking at the network connections on the outside. They should match. So if there is a black connection on one quarter, attach the other quarter that also has a black connection. If there are two, find the one where there are two. Use five screws and nuts and carefully screw them together on the preinstalled holes outside. Start first with screwing them in very loosely and when all five are set, you can tighten them, but not too much, just hand-tight. You can not connect the other two halfs and finally the whole dome. Never use force. If anything doesn't fit, there is probably something wrong.

The ring is a bit more difficult. Find corresponding number stickers, so you know which end connections with which other end. Make sure the silver connector points with the arrow towards the screw from the other side. Put two parts tightly together and use the imbus tool to tighten them. Sometimes this doesn't work, so make sure both parts are connected thoroughly. If you have done the first half, do the other half and finally connect both halfes together. The system doen's work so well, so you will need a bit of patience and practice. When done, you can unscrew the feet from the box and connect them to the ring. The black side of the ring is the bottom side, the white side is top. There are four holes in the ring where you can attach the feet.

Now we need to fix the dome on the ring. First place the dome carefully on the ring without covering the holes we will use in a minute. In one of the grey boxes you should find wooden blocks and screws. Use them to fix the dome onto the ring. The wooden blocks have small cavices in them that are needed so the plastic of the ring can find under. You'll figure it out. First position all the blocks with the screws around the dome and then when everything fits, you can tighten the screws. Now find another grey box that include cables. You'll find two long cables and several short cables. Use the short cables to connect the dome quarter electrically together. Again, black cable goes into black connectors and red cables into red connectors. Finally attach the two long cables on the two remaining connectors and connect them to the RTI Control Box.

The last steps are the camera mount system and the curtain. You should find both in the box. The camera mount system needss to be unscrewed and put on top of the dome in the corresponding holes. In the grey box with the screws, there should be three nuts remaining. Tighten the camera mount system with them to the dome. The curtain finally simply attaches to the velcro strip outside of the ring. You are done! The dome is completely build!

The setup

The procedure

This page was last edited on 2024-06-06 12:03

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This page was last edited on 2024-06-06 12:03

Sebastian Hageneuer
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