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Scaling A Photo

How can I make a scale to get measurements from a photo?

One of the easiest ways is to use a copying machine. Enlarge the photo so that you can use a triangular architect's scale and you're all set. This method isn't perfect, but it's much better than guessing! Photos that are taken head-on work best, because there's less distortion. It also helps if you know some major dimensions, such as length and width. (If they aren't given, just take a good guess.)

Let's walk through an example to see how this works using a postcard photo of a classic Limbert table. First, we pick one major dimension. Let's use the table's height, which is given on the postcard as 29-in. Next, measure the actual height of the table in the photo: 3-5/16 in.

Draw a line that's 29-in. long using the 1/4 in. = 1 ft. scale on the architect's rule. Measure this line with the regular inch scale: it's 7-1/4 in. long.

Now figure out by what percentage to enlarge the photo. You want to stretch a line that's 3-5/16 in. long to one that's 7-1/4 in. long, so you need to know how much to multiply 3-5/16 to get 7-1/4. You can use a calculator, but the easiest way is to use a round proportional scale. You simply rotate a wheel on this scale to get the answer, which is 220%. Conversion of fractions to decimals and back isn't necessary. (Architect's scales and proportional scales are available at office supply stores.)

Next, enlarge the photo 220% and check the major dimension. You may have to go up or down a few percentage points and make another copy for the table's height to come out right. Once you've made an accurate enlargement, you can use the architect's scale to quickly measure parts and details, such as this table's leg, which is 4-in. wide (see inset).

Source

Dick Blick, (800) 828-4548, www.dickblick.com, Architectural scale, #55409-1001, $4.50. Proportional scale, #55473-1005, $3.50.

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