Capturing architectural plans

cursor

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I'm hoping some of you can offer advice as to how I might effectively capture select portions of architectural plan sets. I regularly receive requests to bid precast work (columns, balustrades, etc) and need to digitally capture only those parts of the plan sets that concern me. My hope is 1) to maintain vertical/horizontal integrity, and 2) to get reasonable contrast between black line-work and the [typically] white background. Architectural drawings can be as large as 34" x 44".

Once captured, I expect to use Xara Xtreme Pro to highlight, doctor and graphically emphasize the scope of work to be performed.

While there is no doubt that a large format flatbed scanner would be optimal, I'm hoping to get this reasonably done using a 7.2 megapixel digital camera, accessory lighting, and tripod.

t h x
 

JerryPH

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If this is for professional uses, doing it haphazard with a camera will result in sub-professional results. Is this the view you want to take for your clients to see?

Purchase the right equipment and write it off as a business expense. Please your clients and have them come back to you again due to the quality and clarity of your work.

Just MHO.
 
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cursor

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Thanks for your input, Jerry.

While that is what I would like to do (take the quality/professional approach), there's simply no way that my employer would foot the bill for scanner equipment that'll handle 34"x44" printed media.
 

JerryPH

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Can you not use a smaller scanner and stitch the parts together?

How about printing out parts of designs that you need and not the whole project?
 

Helen B

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This must sound like a daft question but, unless you are working somewhere that doesn't use CAD, why can't you use the CAD files?

Best,
Helen
 

Jeff Canes

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1) Ask for set of copies
2) Make copies at fedex kinkos or the ups store
3) Ask for PDF file have printed at fedex kinkos or the ups store
 

RyanLilly

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This must sound like a daft question but, unless you are working somewhere that doesn't use CAD, why can't you use the CAD files?
That Is what I was thinking. I personally use Vectorworks, and you can save a file in just about any format, Vectorworks, Autocad, sketchup, PDF, JPG...etc...

And with photographing there is now easy way to maintain scale.

Then I do Know some old school guys that still use their drafting boards and blue-liners.
 

Garbz

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Well if you can a) keep it flat, b) use a lens with no barrel distortion like a fixed focal length lens, and c) get consistent lighting across the drawing sets then you're in business.

C will be the real problem. Two flash units fired into umbrellas each placed at 45 degrees off axis from the drawing would be ideal.
 

Bevel Heaven

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suggest you use a nikkor 60mm f2.8 lens, on a tripod, no flash just ambient light [window, skylight etc] piece of clean glass over the plan, 800 iso - voila. This lens was originally designed for this type of thing - it offers no distortion around the edges etc. A very nice lens.
 

jstuedle

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Well if you can a) keep it flat, b) use a lens with no barrel distortion like a fixed focal length lens, and c) get consistent lighting across the drawing sets then you're in business.

C will be the real problem. Two flash units fired into umbrellas each placed at 45 degrees off axis from the drawing would be ideal.

Or a decent macro style ring light.
 

kundalini

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This sounds like AutoCAD to me. Ask the client for a PDF or DWF file so you can print out. Taking a photo of the plans is a bad idea if your aim is for accuracy and quality. I work with AutoCAD daily and some of my project managers have attempted this method of taking a photo of the plan for me to draw. Needles to say I reject the project immediately. If it is a detailed set of plans, I'm afraid you will never take a photo and make it legible.
 

soylentgreen

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Getting the file will be your best bet. Most firms should have them and manufacturers should have them also. Takes a bit of calling around, but may be worth it. I sometimes just use a 60mm macro to shoot plans if exacting details are not needed. Mostly for permits and stuff where a general reference is only needed. Just make sure the piece is flat and lit consistently. Usually to clamp on lights at 45 degrees on either side.
 
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cursor

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Thanks to all for your valuable input. I'll experiment with the various suggestions and see what works the best for our needs. Certainly AutoCAD source drawings are ideal, followed by PDF files. Just exactly what clients are willing to offer varies, however.
 

BAB

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In my work I am on occasion asked to do just what you are trying to accomplish. The technique I use is just as Garbz suggested and is a darn good way to handel this kind of photography. In my work I am fortunate to have a very good copystand, but sometimes the size of the drawings are too large for the copy stand. In those cases I tape them to a wall and set-up lights as Garbz suggested. Another technique that I have used in my film day's, is to shoot in B&W, using a high contrast film, with a yellow filter as the drawings I have photographed are typically white with blue drawing detail. With digital you can convert to B&W in Photoshop and work with the blue channel to enhance the detail and you also have the ability to increase the contrast.
 

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