AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY is the taking of photographs of the ground from an
elevated/direct-down position. Usually the camera is not supported by
a ground-based structure. Platforms for aerial photography include
fixed-wing aircraft , helicopters , unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or
"drones"), balloons , blimps and dirigibles , rockets , pigeons ,
kites , parachutes , stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted
poles. Mounted cameras may be triggered remotely or automatically;
hand-held photographs may be taken by a photographer.
Aerial photography should not be confused with air-to-air photography
, where one or more aircraft are used as chase planes that "chase" and
photograph other aircraft in flight.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Early history
* 1.2 World War I
* 1.3 Commercial aerial photography
* 1.4 World War II
* 2 Uses
* 3 Platforms
* 3.2 Radio-controlled model aircraft
* 4 Regulations
* 4.1 Australia
* 4.2 United States
* 4.3 United Kingdom
* 5 Types
* 5.1 Oblique
* 5.2 Vertical
* 5.3 Combinations
* 5.4 Orthophotos
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Honoré Daumier , "Nadar élevant la Photographie à la hauteur
de l'Art" (Nadar elevating
Photography to Art), published in Le
Boulevard, May 25, 1862.
Aerial photography was first practiced by the French photographer and
Gaspard-Félix Tournachon , known as "Nadar" , in 1858 over
France . However, the photographs he produced no longer exist
and therefore the earliest surviving aerial photograph is titled
'Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.' Taken by James
Wallace Black and
Samuel Archer King on October 13, 1860, it depicts
Boston from a height of 630m. Antique postcard using kite photo
technique. (circa 1911)
Kite aerial photography was pioneered by British meteorologist E.D.
Archibald in 1882. He used an explosive charge on a timer to take
photographs from the air. Frenchman
Arthur Batut began using kites
for photography in 1888, and wrote a book on his methods in 1890.
Samuel Franklin Cody developed his advanced 'Man-lifter War Kite' and
succeeded in interesting the British
War Office with its capabilities.
The first use of a motion picture camera mounted to a
heavier-than-air aircraft took place on April 24, 1909 over Rome in
the 3:28 silent film short,
Wilbur Wright und seine Flugmaschine .
WORLD WAR I
Giza pyramid complex , photographed from
Eduard Spelterini 's
balloon on November 21, 1904
The use of aerial photography rapidly matured during the war, as
reconnaissance aircraft were equipped with cameras to record enemy
movements and defences. At the start of the conflict, the usefulness
of aerial photography was not fully appreciated, with reconnaissance
being accomplished with map sketching from the air.
Germany adopted the first aerial camera, a Görz , in 1913. The
French began the war with several squadrons of Blériot observation
aircraft equipped with cameras for reconnaissance. The French Army
developed procedures for getting prints into the hands of field
commanders in record time.
Frederick Charles Victor Laws started aerial photography experiments
in 1912 with No.1 Squadron of the
Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps (later No. 1
RAF ), taking photographs from the British dirigible Beta .
He discovered that vertical photos taken with 60% overlap could be
used to create a stereoscopic effect when viewed in a stereoscope,
thus creating a perception of depth that could aid in cartography and
in intelligence derived from aerial images. The Royal Flying Corps
recon pilots began to use cameras for recording their observations in
1914 and by the
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915, the entire system of
German trenches was being photographed. In 1916 the Austro-Hungarian
Monarchy made vertical camera axis aerial photos above Italy for
map-making. A German observation plane, the
Rumpler Taube .
The first purpose-built and practical aerial camera was invented by
John Moore-Brabazon in 1915 with the help of the
Thornton-Pickard company, greatly enhancing the efficiency of aerial
photography. The camera was inserted into the floor of the aircraft
and could be triggered by the pilot at intervals. Moore-Brabazon also
pioneered the incorporation of stereoscopic techniques into aerial
photography, allowing the height of objects on the landscape to be
discerned by comparing photographs taken at different angles.
By the end of the war aerial cameras had dramatically increased in
size and focal power and were used increasingly frequently as they
proved their pivotal military worth; by 1918 both sides were
photographing the entire front twice a day, and had taken over half a
million photos since the beginning of the conflict. In January 1918,
General Allenby used five Australian pilots from No. 1 Squadron AFC to
photograph a 624 square miles (1,620 km2) area in Palestine as an aid
to correcting and improving maps of the Turkish front. This was a
pioneering use of aerial photography as an aid for cartography .
Leonard Taplin , Allan Runciman Brown , H. L. Fraser,
Edward Patrick Kenny , and L. W. Rogers photographed a block of land
stretching from the Turkish front lines 32 miles (51 km) deep into
their rear areas. Beginning 5 January, they flew with a fighter escort
to ward off enemy fighters. Using Royal
Aircraft Factory BE.12 and
Martinsyde airplanes, they not only overcame enemy air attacks, but
also had to contend with 65 mph (105 km/h) winds, antiaircraft fire,
and malfunctioning equipment to complete their task.
COMMERCIAL AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY
The first commercial aerial photography company in the UK was
Aerofilms Ltd, founded by World War I veterans Francis Wills and
Claude Graham White
Claude Graham White in 1919. The company soon expanded into a business
with major contracts in Africa and Asia as well as in the UK.
Operations began from the
Stag Lane Aerodrome
Stag Lane Aerodrome at Edgware, using the
aircraft of the London Flying School. Subsequently, the Aircraft
Manufacturing Company (later the De Havilland
Aircraft Company ),
Airco DH.9 along with pilot entrepreneur
Alan Cobham .
New York City
New York City 1930, aerial photograph of Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc.
Aerofilms carried out vertical photography for survey and
mapping purposes. During the 1930s, the company pioneered the science
of photogrammetry (mapping from aerial photographs), with the Ordnance
Survey amongst the company's clients.
Another successful pioneer of the commercial use of aerial
photography was the American
Sherman Fairchild who started his own
aircraft firm Fairchild
Aircraft to develop and build specialized
aircraft for high altitude aerial survey missions. One Fairchild
aerial survey aircraft in 1935 carried unit that combined two
synchronized cameras, and each camera having five six inch lenses with
a ten-inch lenses and took photos from 23,000 feet. Each photo covered
two hundred and twenty five square miles. One of its first government
contracts was an aerial survey of New Mexico to study soil erosion. A
year later, Fairchild introduced a better high altitude camera with
nine-lens in one unit that could take a photo of 600 square miles with
each exposure from 30,000 feet.
WORLD WAR II
Sidney Cotton 's
Lockheed 12 A, in which he made a high-speed
reconnaissance flight in 1940.
Sidney Cotton and
Flying Officer Maurice Longbottom of the
RAF were among the first to suggest that airborne reconnaissance may
be a task better suited to fast, small aircraft which would use their
speed and high service ceiling to avoid detection and interception.
Although this seems obvious now, with modern reconnaissance tasks
performed by fast, high flying aircraft, at the time it was radical
They proposed the use of Spitfires with their armament and radios
removed and replaced with extra fuel and cameras. This led to the
development of the Spitfire PR variants. Spitfires proved to be
extremely successful in their reconnaissance role and there were many
variants built specifically for that purpose. They served initially
with what later became No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU).
In 1928, the
RAF developed an electric heating system for the aerial
camera. This allowed reconnaissance aircraft to take pictures from
very high altitudes without the camera parts freezing. Based at RAF
Medmenham , the collection and interpretation of such photographs
became a considerable enterprise.
Cotton's aerial photographs were far ahead of their time. Together
with other members of the 1 PRU, he pioneered the techniques of
high-altitude, high-speed stereoscopic photography that were
instrumental in revealing the locations of many crucial military and
intelligence targets. According to R.V. Jones , photographs were used
to establish the size and the characteristic launching mechanisms for
V-1 flying bomb and the
V-2 rocket . Cotton also worked on
ideas such as a prototype specialist reconnaissance aircraft and
further refinements of photographic equipment. At the peak, the
British flew over 100 reconnaissance flights a day, yielding 50,000
images per day to interpret. Similar efforts were taken by other
Abalone point .. Irvine Cove, Laguna Beach an example of
low-altitude aerial photography
Aerial photography is used in cartography (particularly in
photogrammetric surveys , which are often the basis for topographic
maps ), land-use planning, archaeology , movie production ,
environmental studies, power line inspection, surveillance ,
commercial advertising, conveyancing , and artistic projects. An
example of how aerial photography is used in the field of archaeology
is the mapping project done at the site Angkor Borei in Cambodia from
1995–1996. Using aerial photography, archaeologists were able to
identify archaeological features, including 112 water features
(reservoirs, artificially constructed pools and natural ponds) within
the walled site of Angkor Borei. In the United States, aerial
photographs are used in many Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
for property analysis.
In the United States, except when necessary for take off and landing,
full-sized manned aircraft are prohibited from flying at altitudes
under 1000 feet over congested areas and not closer than 500 feet from
any person, vessel, vehicle or structure over non-congested areas.
Certain exceptions are allowed for helicopters, powered parachutes and
RADIO-CONTROLLED MODEL AIRCRAFT
A drone carrying a camera for aerial photography Two
drones that can be used to take aerial photographs
Advances in radio controlled models have made it possible for model
aircraft to conduct low-altitude aerial photography. This had
benefited real-estate advertising, where commercial and residential
properties are the photographic subject when in 2014 the US Federal
Communications Commission, issued an order banning the use of "Drones"
in any commercial application related to photographs for use in real
estate advertisement's. This ban has since been lifted, as the FAA
Part 107 regulations for small UAS became effective on August 29,
Small scale model aircraft offer increased photographic access to
these previously restricted areas. Miniature vehicles do not replace
full size aircraft, as full size aircraft are capable of longer flight
times, higher altitudes, and greater equipment payloads. They are,
however, useful in any situation in which a full-scale aircraft would
be dangerous to operate. Examples would include the inspection of
transformers atop power transmission lines and slow, low-level flight
over agricultural fields, both of which can be accomplished by a
large-scale radio controlled helicopter. Professional-grade,
gyroscopically stabilized camera platforms are available for use under
such a model; a large model helicopter with a 26cc gasoline engine can
hoist a payload of approximately seven kilograms (15 lbs). In addition
to gyroscopically stabilized footage, the use of RC copters as
reliable aerial photography tools increased with the integration of
FPV (first-person-view) technology. Many radio-controlled aircraft are
now capable of utilizing Wi-Fi to stream live video from the
aircraft's camera back to the pilot's ground station.
In Australia Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 101 (CASR 101) allows
for commercial use of radio control aircraft. Under these regulations
radio controlled unmanned aircraft for commercial are referred to as
Aircraft Systems (UAS), where as radio controlled aircraft
for recreational purposes are referred to as model aircraft. Under
CASR 101, businesses/persons operating radio controlled aircraft
commercially are required to hold an operator certificate, just like
manned aircraft operators. Pilots of radio controlled aircraft
operating commercially are also required to be licensed by the Civil
Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Whilst a small UAS and model
aircraft may actually be identical, unlike model aircraft, a UAS may
enter controlled airspace with approval, and operate within close
proximity to an aerodrome.
Due to a number of illegal operators in Australia making false claims
of being approved, CASA maintains and publishes a list of approved UAS
operators. However, CASA has modified the regulations and from the
29th of September 2016 drones under 2 kg may be operated for
FAA regulations grounding all commercial RC model flights have
been upgraded to require formal
FAA certification before permission is
granted to fly at any altitude in the US.
June 25, 2014, The FAA, in ruling 14 CFR Part 91 "Interpretation of
Special Rule for Model Aircraft", banned the commercial use of
unmanned aircraft over U.S. airspace. On September 26, 2014, the FAA
began granting the right to use drones in aerial filmmaking. Operators
are required to be licensed pilots and must keep the drone in view at
all times. Drones cannot be used to film in areas where people might
be put at risk.
FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 established, in Section
336, a special rule for model aircraft. In Section 336, Congress
confirmed the FAA’s long-standing position that model aircraft are
aircraft. Under the terms of the Act, a model aircraft is defined as
"an unmanned aircraft" that is "(1) capable of sustained flight in the
atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person
operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational
Because anything capable of being viewed from a public space is
considered outside the realm of privacy in the United States, aerial
photography may legally document features and occurrences on private
FAA can pursue enforcement action against persons operating model
aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
Public Law 112–95, section 336(b).
June 21, 2016, the
FAA released its summary of small unmanned
aircraft rules (Part 107). The rules established guidelines for small
UAS operators including operating only during the daytime, a 400 ft.
ceiling and pilots must keep the UAS in visual range.
April 7, 2017, the
FAA announced special security instructions under
14 CFR § 99.7. Effective April 14, 2017, all UAS flights within 400
feet of the lateral boundaries of U.S. military installations are
prohibited unless a special permit is secured from the base and/or the
Aerial photography in the UK has tight regulations as to where a
drone is able to fly, Aerial Republic have listed the laws and
Oblique Aerial Photo
Photographs taken at an angle are called oblique photographs. If they
are taken from a low angle earth surface–aircraft, they are called
low oblique and photographs taken from a high angle are called high or
steep oblique. An aerial photographer prepares continuous
oblique shooting in a Cessna 206
Vertical Orientation Aerial Photo
Vertical photographs are taken straight down. They are mainly used
in photogrammetry and image interpretation. Pictures that will be used
in photogrammetry are traditionally taken with special large format
cameras with calibrated and documented geometric properties.
Aerial photographs are often combined. Depending on their purpose it
can be done in several ways, of which a few are listed below.
* Panoramas can be made by stitching several photographs taken with
one hand held camera.
* In pictometry five rigidly mounted cameras provide one vertical
and four low oblique pictures that can be used together.
* In some digital cameras for aerial photogrammetry images from
several imaging elements, sometimes with separate lenses, are
geometrically corrected and combined to one image in the camera.
Vertical photographs are often used to create orthophotos ,
alternatively known as orthophotomaps , photographs which have been
geometrically "corrected" so as to be usable as a map. In other words,
an orthophoto is a simulation of a photograph taken from an infinite
distance, looking straight down to nadir . Perspective must obviously
be removed, but variations in terrain should also be corrected for.
Multiple geometric transformations are applied to the image, depending
on the perspective and terrain corrections required on a particular
part of the image.
Orthophotos are commonly used in geographic information systems ,
such as are used by mapping agencies (e.g.
Ordnance Survey ) to create
maps. Once the images have been aligned, or "registered", with known
real-world coordinates, they can be widely deployed.
Large sets of orthophotos, typically derived from multiple sources
and divided into "tiles" (each typically 256 x 256 pixels in size),
are widely used in online map systems such as
Google Maps .
OpenStreetMap offers the use of similar orthophotos for deriving new
Google Earth overlays orthophotos or satellite imagery onto
a digital elevation model to simulate 3D landscapes.
Atlantic City Aerial
Aerial View Hotel Müggelsee in
Aerial photography Melaten cemetery
Aerial View -
Tennis club Read Green-White 1927,
Play media The
Cliffs of Moher , filmed with a drone (2014)
With advancements in video technology, aerial video is becoming more
popular. Orthogonal video is shot from aircraft mapping pipelines,
crop fields, and other points of interest. Using GPS, video may be
embedded with meta data and later synced with a video mapping program.
This "Spatial Multimedia" is the timely union of digital media
including still photography, motion video, stereo, panoramic imagery
sets, immersive media constructs, audio, and other data with location
and date-time information from the GPS and other location designs.
Aerial videos are emerging Spatial Multimedia which can be used for
scene understanding and object tracking. The input video is captured
by low flying aerial platforms and typically consists of strong
parallax from non-ground-plane structures. The integration of digital
video, global positioning systems (GPS) and automated image processing
will improve the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of data collection
and reduction. Several different aerial platforms are under
investigation for the data collection.
Aerial landscape art
* Aerial photographers category
Aerofilms Ltd., the first commercial aerial photography company in
the UK, founded in 1919
Airborne Real-time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton 1932 photo flight
English Heritage Archive
English Heritage Archive the public archive of English Heritage,
who hold one of the largest collections of aerial photographs of
Fairchild K-20 A WWII era aerial camera
Federal Aviation Regulations
Harvey Lloyd (photographer)
Kite aerial photography
* Oracle model photographic rocket
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
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