Aerial photography

Aerial photography (or airborne imagery) is the taking of photographs from an aircraft or other flying object.[1] 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.

Leuchtturm in Westerheversand
An aerial photograph using a drone of Westerheversand Lighthouse, Germany.
Podgorica 1999 Kosovo War
Air photo of a military target used to evaluate the effect of bombing.
Aerial photography of Thamizhpparithi
Air photography from flight


Early history

Brooklyn Museum - Nadar Élevant la Photographie à la Hauteur de l'Art - Honoré Daumier
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 balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as "Nadar", in 1858 over Paris, France.[2] 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.[3][4]

Kite Photo of Reeds Lake and Ramona Park, Grand Rapids MI. Postcard - 001.jpeg
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.[5] Frenchman Arthur Batut began using kites for photography in 1888, and wrote a book on his methods in 1890.[6][7] 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

Spelterini Pyramids
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 (later No. 1 Squadron 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 in 1915, the entire system of German trenches was being photographed.[8] In 1916 the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy made vertical camera axis aerial photos above Italy for map-making.

Rumpler Taube monoplane
A German observation plane, the Rumpler Taube.

The first purpose-built and practical aerial camera was invented by Captain 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.[9][10]

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. Lieutenants 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.[11]

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 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 at Edgware, using the aircraft of the London Flying School. Subsequently, the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (later the De Havilland Aircraft Company), hired an Airco DH.9 along with pilot entrepreneur Alan Cobham.[12]

The center of New York 1932
New York City 1932, aerial photograph of Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc.

From 1921, 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.[13] In 1920, the Australian Milton Kent started using a half-plate oblique aero camera purchased from Carl Zeiss AG in his aerial photographic business.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

World War II

Lockheed 12A G-AGTL Ringway 14.04.58 edited-2
Sidney Cotton's Lockheed 12A, in which he made a high-speed reconnaissance flight in 1940.

In 1939 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 thinking.

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.[18] Based at RAF Medmenham, the collection and interpretation of such photographs became a considerable enterprise.[19]

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 both the 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 countries.


Abalone point .. Irvine Cove Laguna Beach photo d ramey logan
Abalone point, Irvine Cove, Laguna Beach: an example of low-altitude aerial photography

Aerial photography is used in cartography[20] (particularly in photogrammetric surveys, which are often the basis for topographic maps[21][22]), land-use planning,[20] archaeology,[20] movie production, environmental studies,[23] power line inspection,[24] 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.[25] 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 weight-shift-control aircraft.[26]

Radio-controlled model aircraft

Drone Flying Eye
A drone carrying a camera for aerial photography
Aerial Drone and a Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin photo D Ramey Logan
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 Aviation Administration, issued an order banning the use of "Drones" in any commercial application related to photographs for use in real estate advertisements.[27] This ban has since been lifted, as the FAA Part 107 regulations for small UAS became effective on August 29, 2016.

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 or pilot in command's (PIC) ground station.



In Australia Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 101 (CASR 101)[28] allows for commercial use of radio control aircraft. Under these regulations radio controlled unmanned aircraft for commercial are referred to as Unmanned 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).[29] 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.[30] However, CASA has modified the regulations and from the 29th of September 2016 drones under 2 kg may be operated for commercial purposes.[31]

United States

2006 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 [Docket No. FAA–2014–0396] "Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft", banned the commercial use of unmanned aircraft over U.S. airspace.[32] 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.[33]

The 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 purposes."[34]

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 property.[35]

The 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).[27]

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.[36]

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 FAA.[37]

United Kingdom

Aerial photography in the UK has tight regulations as to where a drone is able to fly.[38]

Aerial Photography on Light aircraft under 20 kg. Basic Rules for non commercial flying Of a SUA (Small Unmanned Aircraft).

Article 241 Endangering safety of any person or property. A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.

Article 94 small unmanned aircraft 1. A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.

2. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

3. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions. (500metres)

4. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7 kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft: 4.1 In Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained; 4.2 Within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; 4.3 At a height of more than 400 feet above the surface

5. The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of commercial operations except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.

Article 95 small unmanned surveillance aircraft 1. You Must not fly your aircraft over or within 150 metres of any congested Area. (This is quite vague, err on the side of caution if an accident did happen, it’s the authorities view against you).

2. Over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons.

3. Within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.

4. Within 50 metres of any person, during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person. This does not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.

Model aircraft with a mass of more than 20 kg are termed ‘Large Model Aircraft’ – within the UK, large model aircraft may only be flown in accordance with an Exemption from the ANO, which must be issued by the CAA.

Dronesafe is a website Developed to help your flying stay safe and legal in the UK in conjunction with NATS (National Air Traffic Services) Look at the Dronesafe website for more information.

Full details on the process to be followed for Large Model Aircraft can be found in CAP 658 on the CAA website

Aerial Work on larger manned aircraft can be found here CAA

Commercial Permissions Information [39] </ref>



Boca Raton Airport rwy 5 Photo D Ramey Logan
Oblique Aerial Photo

Photographs taken at an angle are called oblique photographs. If they are taken from a low angle relative to the earth's surface, they are called low oblique and photographs taken from a high angle are called high or steep oblique.[40]

Aerail Photographer
An aerial photographer prepares continuous oblique shooting in a Cessna 206


Large Blue Whale Off Southern California Coast Photo D Ramey Logan
Vertical Orientation Aerial Photo

Vertical photographs are taken straight down.[41] 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 in different angles from one spot (e.g. with a hand held camera) or from different spots at the same angle (e.g. from a plane).
  • Stereo photography techniques allow for the creation of 3D-images from several photographs of the same area taken from different spots.
  • 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 map data. Google Earth overlays orthophotos or satellite imagery onto a digital elevation model to simulate 3D landscapes.

Aerial video

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.

See also


  1. ^ "aerial photograph". Merrian Webster. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  2. ^ History of Aerial Photography Professional Aerial Photographers Association (retrieved 5 October 2016)
  3. ^ Ron Graham and Roger E. Read, Manual of Aerial Photography, London and Boston, Focal Press, ISBN 0-240-51229-4
  4. ^ Staff writer (April 3, 2013). "This Picture of Boston, Circa 1860, Is the World's Oldest Surviving Aerial Photo". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  5. ^ Archibald, Douglas (1897). "The Story of the Earth's Atmosphere". p. 174. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  6. ^ Benton, Cris (June 25, 2010). "The First Kite Photographs". Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  7. ^ "Arthur Batut Museum" (in French). Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  8. ^ "A Brief History of Aerial Photography".
  9. ^ "Royal Flying Corps Founded". History Today.
  10. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2003). How It Works: Science and Technology. Marshall Cavendish. p. 33.
  11. ^ "Lieutenant Leonard T.E. Taplin, D.F.C". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  12. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Friese-Greene, Claude (1898-1943) Biography".
  13. ^ "Municipal Air Surveys. Contracts From Doncaster And Birkenhead". The Times. issue:44229,column:E. Gale:The Times digital archive 1785–1985. 25 March 1926. p. 11. Retrieved 30 August 2012. (subscription required)
  14. ^ A Modern Ariel with a camera, People [magazine], 15 July 1953, pp. 24-27
  15. ^ The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. 1997. p. 382. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.
  16. ^ "Wide Area Is Mapped From Air By Giant Ten Lens Camera" Popular Mechanics, October 1935 editors have stated Fairchild Aircraft in hand written comment to left of archived article
  17. ^ Hearst Magazines (April 1936). "Nine Lens Aerial Camera Films 600 Square Miles". Popular Science. Hearst Magazines. p. 571.
  18. ^ "Photography Before Edgerton".
  19. ^ Cotton, Sidney (1969). Aviator Extraordinary: The Sidney Cotton Story. Chatto & Windus. p. 169. ISBN 0-7011-1334-0.
  20. ^ a b c "Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing". University of Colorado Boulder. 2011. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  21. ^ Mills, J.P.; et al. (1997). "Photogrammetry from Archived Digital Imagery for Seal Monitoring". The Photogrammetric Record. 15 (89): 715–724. doi:10.1111/0031-868X.00080.
  22. ^ Twiss, S.D.; et al. (2001). "Topographic spatial characterisation of grey seal Halichoerus grypus breeding habitat at a sub-seal size spatial grain". Ecography. 24 (3): 257–266. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0587.2001.tb00198.x.
  23. ^ Stewart, J.E.; et al. (2014). "Finescale ecological niche modeling provides evidence that lactating gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) prefer access to fresh water in order to drink" (PDF). Marine Mammal Science. 30 (4): 1456–1472. doi:10.1111/mms.12126.
  24. ^ Yan G.; et al.(2007). "Automatic extraction of power lines from aerial images", IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 4(3):387–391.
  25. ^ Stark, M. T., Griffin, P., Phoeurn, C., Ledgerwood, J., Dega, M., Mortland, C., ... & Latinis, K. (1999). Results of the 1995–1996 archaeological field investigations at Angkor Borei, Cambodia. Asian Perspectives 38(1)
  26. ^ United States Federal Aviation Regulations FAR part 91 section 119(14CFR91.119)
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^ "Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998". Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority. 2002-12-19. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  29. ^ "Civil Aviation Safety Authority". Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority. 2002-12-19. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  30. ^ "List of UAS Operator Certificate Holders". Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  31. ^ "Part 101 Amendments – Cutting red tape for remotely piloted aircraft". CASA. 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  32. ^ “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft”, Federal Aviation Administration. Archived from the original on March 17, 2019.
  33. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces FAA Exemptions for Commercial UAS Movie and TV Production". Press Release. FAA. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  34. ^ Public Law 112–95, section 336(c).
  35. ^ California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 206 (1986)
  36. ^ "SUMMARY OF SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT RULE (PART 107)" (PDF). FAA. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  37. ^ "Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions". FAA. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  38. ^ "UK Drone law". Aerial Republic. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  39. ^ "Aerial Photography Regulations UK". SDimaging. Retrieved Jan 17, 2018.
  40. ^ "Lecture 6.1: Classification of Photographs". The Remote Sensing Core Curriculum. University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 1999. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  41. ^ Short, Nicholas (2010-04-28). "Elements of Aerial Photography". Remote Sensing Tutorial Page 10-1. NASA. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-25.

Further reading

  • Price, Alfred (2003). Targeting the Reich: Allied Photographic Reconnaissance over Europe, 1939–1945. [S.l.]: Military Book Club. N.B.: First published 2003 by Greenhill Books, London. ISBN 0-7394-3496-9

External links

Media related to Aerial photographs at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of aerial photography at Wiktionary

Aerial archaeology

Aerial archaeology is the study of archaeological remains by examining them from altitude.

Aerial reconnaissance

Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance for a military or strategic purpose that is conducted using reconnaissance aircraft. The role of reconnaissance can fulfil a variety of requirements including artillery spotting, the collection of imagery intelligence, and the observation of enemy maneuvers.


Cursus monuments are Neolithic structures which represent some of the oldest prehistoric monumental structures of the Islands of Britain and Ireland. Relics found within them show that they were built between 3400 and 3000 BC.

Superficially resembling ditches or trenches, they range in length from 50 yards (46 m) to almost 6 miles (9.7 km) and the distance between the parallel earthworks can be up to 100 yards (91 m). Banks at the terminal ends enclose the cursus. Over fifty have been identified via aerial photography while many others have doubtless been obliterated by farming and other subsequent landscaping activities.Examples include the four cursuses at Rudston in Yorkshire, that at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk, the Cleaven Dyke in Perthshire and the Dorset cursus. A notable example is the Stonehenge Cursus, within sight of the more famous stone circle, on land belonging to The National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape.

El Djem Airfield

El Djem Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Tunisia, which is located approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) west-northwest of El Djem; about 170 kilometres (110 mi) south-southeast of Tunis. It was a pre-1942 military airfield used by the German Luftwaffe which was attacked and seized by Allied forces in April 1943. Once in Allied hands, it was repaired and used by the United States Army Air Force during the Tunisian Campaign.

Known USAAF units assigned were:

57th Fighter Group, 14–21 April 1943, P-40 Warhawk (9th AF)

64th Troop Carrier Group, 26 July-29 August 1943, C-47 Skytrain, (12th AF)

60th Troop Carrier Group, 30 June-31 August 1943, C-47 Skytrain, (12th AF)Today, the airfield runway and dispersal pads are faintly visible on aerial photography.

Foggia Airfield Complex

The Foggia Airfield Complex was a series of World War II military airfields located within a 40 km (25 mi) radius of Foggia, in the Province of Foggia, Italy. The airfields were used by the United States Army Air Force Fifteenth Air Force as part of the strategic bombardment campaign against Nazi Germany in 1944 and 1945, as well as by Twelfth Air Force and the Royal Air Force during the Italian Campaign (1943–1945).

Grombalia Airfield

Grombalia Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Tunisia, which is located approximately 112 kilometres (70 mi) east-southeast of Hammam-Lif, about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southeast of Tunis. It was a temporary airfield constructed by Army Engineers using Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) for its runway, parking and dispersal areas, not designed for heavy aircraft or for long-term use.

It was used by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force 82d Fighter Group during the North African Campaign, flying P-38 Lightnings from the airfield between August and October 1943.

After the Americans moved east in October, the airfield was closed and dismantled. Today, the former main runway is visible in aerial photography, however no buildings or physical features remain.

Hunting Aerosurveys Ltd

Hunting Aerosurveys Ltd was a British aerial photography company. Its operations became more diversified under the name Hunting Surveys.

The firm incorporated Aerofilms Ltd and the Aircraft Operating Company. In 1947 it was using three types of aircraft: Austers, a Percival Proctor and a D. H. Rapide and planned to acquire one or more Percival Mergansers. The company had contracts for work surveying for tin mining in Nigeria; oil in Arabia, Venezuela and Colombia; timber in Ontario; and mapping in Australia.Between 1957 and 1964, Hunting operated a specially converted Auster Autocar for smaller scale aerial survey work.In 1960 the firm was merged with Hunting Geophysics Ltd to form Hunting Surveys Ltd. The Hunting Survey Group's military division became a maker of Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In the 1990s the firm's international oil prospecting work including operations in Sudan.Hunting Surveys & Consultants Ltd announced the appointment of a liquidator in December 2001 and final dissolution in January 2003.

Kite aerial photography

Kite aerial photography (KAP) is a hobby and a type of photography. A camera is lifted using a kite and is triggered either remotely or automatically to take aerial photographs. The camera rigs can range from the extremely simple, consisting of a trigger mechanism with a disposable camera, to complex apparatus using radio control and digital cameras. On some occasions it can be a good alternative to other forms of aerial photography.

La Sebala Airfield

La Sebala Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Tunisia, which was located about 1 km north of Cebalat; 15 km north-northwest of Tunis. It was a temporary airfield constructed by Army Engineers using compacted earth for its runway, parking and dispersal areas, not designed for heavy aircraft or for long-term use.

The airfield was used by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force 52d Fighter Group between 21 May and 30 July 1943, flying combat operations with P-40 Warhawks over Sicily and Italy, as well as taking part in the Pantelleria reduction.

After the 52d moved to Boccadifalco on Sicily, the airfield was closed and dismantled. Today, there is traces of the airfield remaining on the landscape visible from aerial photography, but no buildings or physical features.


Lukaviatrans is a Russian charter airline based at Maksimovo Airport, Pskov, which carries out aerial photography, aerial chemical work (e.g. crop spraying), aerial fire-fighting, aircraft maintenance, oil and gas pipeline monitoring, and crop clearance around pipelines.

Messina Airfield

Messina Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Italy, which was located just to the west of Messina in Sicily. It was a temporary field built by the Army Corps of Engineers used as part of the Allied invasion of Italy.

The airfield was primarily used by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force 57th Fighter Group during 15–16 September 1943, flying combat operations with P-40 Warhawks.

When the 57th moved out to Reggio on the Itralian mainland the airfield was closed and dismantled. Today, there are no traces of the airfield remaining on the landscape visible from aerial photography, as the area has been developed as part of the urban area over the past 60 years.

Microsoft Research Maps

Microsoft Research Maps or MSR Maps was a free online repository of public domain aerial imagery and topographic maps provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The site was a collaboration between Microsoft Research (MSR), Bing Maps, and the USGS. It had been in operation since June 1998. It had 30,000 to 50,000 visitors per day as of January 2010. The site was renamed in 2010, prior to which it had been known as TerraServer-USA (formerly Microsoft TerraServer).

The site had black and white USGS aerial photographs of approximately 97% of the United States. In 2000, the USGS launched the new Urban Areas program, which will ultimately take high-resolution color aerial photographs of about 100 major American cities. MSR Maps had Urban Areas data for 40 cities.Microsoft had announced that the MSR Maps web site was going to permanently close on May 1, 2012, but later changed that decision based on requests from users of the site. As of March 2016 the site is no longer available.

National Agriculture Imagery Program

The National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) acquires aerial imagery during the agricultural growing seasons in the continental United States. It is administered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) through the Aerial Photography Field Office (APFO) in Salt Lake City.A primary goal of the NAIP program is to make digital ortho photography available to governmental agencies and the public within a year of acquisition. This "leaf-on" imagery is used as a base layer for GIS programs in the FSA's County Service Centers, and is used to maintain the Common Land Unit (CLU) boundaries. Projects are contracted each year based upon available funding and the FSA imagery acquisition cycle. Beginning in 2003, NAIP was acquired on a 5-year cycle. 2008 was a transition year, and a three-year cycle began in 2009. Since the NAIP program began in 2003, vendors have been transitioning to digital sensors in imagery acquisition. In 2009, most NAIP imagery will be acquired with digital sensors rather than film cameras.NAIP imagery products are available either as digital ortho quarter quad tiles (DOQQs) or as compressed county mosaics (CCM). The area for DOQQs corresponds to the USGS topographic quadrangles. Each image tile covers a 3.75 x 3.75 minute quarter quadrangle plus a 300-meter buffer on all four sides. CCMs are generated by compressing DOQQ image tiles into a single mosaic.

All individual tile images and the resulting mosaic are rectified in the UTM coordinate system, NAD 83, and cast into a single predetermined UTM zone.NAIP imagery is typically acquired at a 1-meter (3.28 ft) ground sample distance (GSD) with a horizontal accuracy that matches within 6 meters (19.69 ft) of photo-identifiable ground control points, although these parameters do change over time. Starting in 2016, new imagery were acquired with a horizontal accuracy of +/-4 meters (13.12 ft), and starting in 2018, new imagery were acquired with GSD of 60 centimeters (1.97 ft). The default spectral resolution is natural color (Red, Green and Blue, or RGB) but beginning in 2007, some states have been delivered with four bands of data: RGB and Near Infrared. Images have no more than 10% cloud cover per quarter quad tile, weather conditions permitting.


Orfű is a village in Baranya county, Hungary. The settlement is a well-known pleasure resort.

Picton, Cheshire

Picton is a hamlet and former civil parish, now in the parish of Mickle Trafford and District, situated near to Chester, in the Borough of Cheshire West and Chester and the ceremonial county of Cheshire in England. In 2001 it had a population of 58. The civil parish was abolished in 2015 to form Mickle Trafford and District.In 1995 aerial photography showed evidence of a Roman practice fort in the parish.Picton Hall and Picton Hall Farmhouse are designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building. It is the only listed building in the parish.

Pigeon photography

Pigeon photography is an aerial photography technique invented in 1907 by the German apothecary Julius Neubronner, who also used pigeons to deliver medications. A homing pigeon was fitted with an aluminium breast harness to which a lightweight time-delayed miniature camera could be attached. Neubronner's German patent application was initially rejected, but was granted in December 1908 after he produced authenticated photographs taken by his pigeons. He publicized the technique at the 1909 Dresden International Photographic Exhibition, and sold some images as postcards at the Frankfurt International Aviation Exhibition and at the 1910 and 1911 Paris Air Shows.

Initially, the military potential of pigeon photography for aerial reconnaissance appeared attractive. Battlefield tests in World War I provided encouraging results, but the ancillary technology of mobile dovecotes for messenger pigeons had the greatest impact. Owing to the rapid perfection of aviation during the war, military interest in pigeon photography faded and Neubronner abandoned his experiments. The idea was briefly resurrected in the 1930s by a Swiss clockmaker, and reportedly also by the German and French militaries. Although war pigeons were deployed extensively during World War II, it is unclear to what extent, if any, birds were involved in aerial reconnaissance. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) later developed a battery-powered camera designed for espionage pigeon photography; details of its use remain classified.

The construction of sufficiently small and light cameras with a timer mechanism, and the training and handling of the birds to carry the necessary loads, presented major challenges, as did the limited control over the pigeons' position, orientation and speed when the photographs were being taken. In 2004, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) used miniature television cameras attached to falcons and goshawks to obtain live footage, and today some researchers, enthusiasts and artists similarly deploy crittercams with various species of animals.

Saskatchewan Highway 914

Highway 914 is a provincial highway in the northwest and far north regions of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It begins at a turn in Highway 165 and officially ends at Key Lake mine. Highway 914 goes north through scenic parts of Saskatchewan, including Pinehouse Lake and Gordon Lake, and does not intersect with any province-owned roads between 165 and Key Lake Mine. Highway 914 is about 268 km (167 mi) long.Along its entire length, it passes through only one town, Pinehouse.

Although the official highway map of Saskatchewan shows the highway terminating at Key Lake, Google Maps and its aerial photography shows the road actually continues on to the McArthur River uranium mine further to the north. Access to this portion of the road is restricted, and is therefore not part of the official highway network.

Sousse Airfield

Sousse Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield in Tunisia, which was located in the vicinity of Sousse. It was a temporary airfield used by the United States Army Air Forces Twelfth Air Force 31st Fighter Group which flew two squadrons of Supermarine Spitfires from the field between 9–19 June 1943

When the Americans pulled out the airfield was abandoned. There is no evidence left of its existence in aerial photography of the area.

The National Map

The National Map is a collaborative effort of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other federal, state, and local agencies to improve and deliver topographic information for the United States. The purpose of the effort is to provide "...a seamless, continuously maintained set of public domain geographic base information that will serve as a foundation for integrating, sharing, and using other data easily and consistently".The National Map is part of the USGS National Geospatial Program. The geographic information available includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures and land cover. The National Map is accessible via the Web, as products and services, and as downloadable data. Its uses range from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response.The National Map is a significant contribution to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and currently is being transformed to better serve the geospatial community by providing high quality, integrated geospatial data and improved products and services including new generation digital topographic maps. In addition, the National Map is foundational to implementation of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Geospatial Modernization Blueprint.The USGS also utilizes data from The National Map Corps, which consists of volunteers who devote some of their time to provide cartographic information on structures.The National Map is the official replacement for the USGS topographic map program.


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