It is fascinating to take a photograph from far above, where people are like little ants, and buildings are like miniatures. Aerial photography allows you to do that and so much more! These photographs are taken from above the earth with a camera placed on aircraft, satellites, balloons, rockets, kites, skydivers, etc. The French airman Nadar took the first aerial photograph in 1858; a picture of Paris taken from a hot air balloon. In World War I, aerial photography was used for military purposes. The aviator Fred Zim was one the famous aerial photographers at that time. Today it is used such purposes as land-planning, cartography, movies, advertising, environmental studies, and more.
The technology available today has helped in advancing aerial photography. Low- altitude photographs are possible because of radio-controlled models, mounted on radio-controlled aircraft. These are useful for restricted areas and real estate photography. Larger aircraft with longer flight times and greater equipment payload help in photographing larger areas.
Remote photography is possible because of remote technology. The camera is away from the photographer on the outside of the aircraft and is activated remotely, using a mechanical or electronic shutter release. Computers, remote sensing, and GIS are being used today. This is especially useful for cartography. The GIS system integrates aerial photography, satellite data, and radar imagery into data layers. A data tape scans or reads these images.
Aerial photographers are highly trained, and they learn to look at the objects from an unusual position overhead and interpret the scales. They also know how to record infrared wavelengths. While looking at aerial photographs, you should be aware of a few relevant factors. Understanding the size and tone, you will be able to differentiate the objects in the photograph-for example, whether a body of water is a pond or a lake.
Being able to interpret the shape and the texture will help you recognize the landscape. For example, buildings have a geometrical landscape when you compare them to hills, and, of course, both will have different textures. Shadows will help in determining the height of an object. Patterns will help you identify where you are. A park will have an organized setting of trees, while in a forest the trees will be random. The geographical location or topography helps in recognizing landforms and vegetation. An example is the difference betweens deserts and valleys. Interpreters also look at the objects in association with others. For example, power plants will never be in the middle of a residential area.
We can expect many advances in aerial photography. Technologies like satellite imaging, MSS, and thermal, hyper spectral, and radar scanning have already advanced its scope. The science and art of aerial photography is growing by leaps and bounds.