Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Wonders of Aerial Photography

Los Angeles Skyline Aerial View

A brief introduction 

With this article I am going to discuss aspects and uses of aerial photography and so I will begin with some basics. Aerial photos are taken from an elevated position and most often are done using some sort of aircraft like you can see over at this website. Another way that aerial photos are produced is by using elevated platforms such as the top of a building. Aircraft imagery boasts a range that is nearly limitless as opposed to the range of a photographer using a platform which is fixed in place and thus limited. Both handheld and mounted cameras are used and the photographer may willfully control the camera remotely or use a timer to trigger it automatically.

It is my belief that it is best to leave aerial photography to a professional, especially for commercial purposes. Here is California there are a number of companies that do everything from environmental assessments to "fun" photography I feel that someone who specializes in this kind of photography will ensure clear, well-composed images which can be used for the following and more:

  • decoration
  • planning and development
  • exploration and mapping
  • real estate advertisement
  • property assessment

Aerial photos used as decoration

I have frequently noticed aerial photos proudly displayed at wineries, orchards and plantation estates I have visited. Some of my friends and family with farms have shown me similar photos done of their land. Their stories are that they were contacted once the photos were completed and asked if they would be interested in seeing and possibly purchasing any. Usually there is one that is a favorite holding an esteemed place on a wall in their home and if they purchased a package deal then there are others from various angles. When I see these images it is as if I am having the opportunity to fly above the area myself observing the landscape and buildings from above. These photographs are of historical value as legacy items and make great conversation pieces as well as decoration for landowners.

When it comes to taking aerial photos of real estate a blimp or helicopter is typically utilized. Such low-altitude aircraft being used to conduct the photography allows a higher quality resolution and for more numerous shots to be taken at different angles. This provides the landowner with a variety of images from which to choose.

Artists have been known to make use of public domain aerial images. They do so by adding effects and incorporating other mediums to make highly detailed images with true decorative flair. I have noticed such artwork in online galleries as well as in ceiling-to-floor installation pieces.

Technology in aerial photography

In the technology used to supply modern aerial photography I have noticed improvements that are quite impressive compared to that which was used in years gone by. Digital cameras used today have the capability of producing images showing nearly twice the clarity as the images that came from the cameras commonly used 10 years ago. The images now taken are high resolution from higher altitudes at faster speeds and cover a larger area than previous airborne camera systems. These advancements help to simplify the flight planning and operations of air survey projects.

It is sometimes necessary to use small unmanned aircraft when the goal is to photograph potential properties that are hard to reach. A specialized skill-set is needed to remotely operate small-scale aircraft for taking inspection and assessment photos in areas with difficult access. In these specific instances the image attainment is exploratory in nature and involves some risk. Miniature aircraft have drawbacks as they cannot attain the higher altitudes or flight-time length that full-size aircraft can. It is also an issue I find obvious that the smaller the aircraft is the less equipment that is able to be loaded onto it limiting what is on board.

Other uses of aerial photography

I like to think of aerial photos serving as highly detailed maps which give surveyors, city planners, and contingency planners a true image portrayal of the qualities in the environment they are interested in. Aerial image data is useful for planning, development, devising new routes or emergency evacuation plans, archaeological surveys, artistic projects, licensing applications and more. With this type of photography being supplied potential clients have current and detailed information about an area before proceeding with their development projections. 

Property appraisers and tax assessors also study aerial image data to discover changes in properties such as additional structures that have been built. This is one feature that I have heard property owners make mention of with some concern. In this way I feel it aids in keeping people honest, and so the aerial photos serve a purpose in governance of land to a certain extent. It also improves the process of finding vacant property that is not as easy to locate. The idea has occurred to me that it seems like an invasion of privacy. Airspace is considered public, however, and anything that is seen from a public place is considered within public domain. Accordingly, aerial observation is not in violation of privacy unless the airspace itself is restricted.