Aerial Photography 101

Aerial photography is the practice of taking images of a location from above, used for various purposes such as commercial, industrial and scientific investigations.

Helicopters, airplanes and fixed wings are the most commonly used aerial platforms for taking photos from above. But balloons and gliders also offer unique perspectives.

The History of Aerial Photography

At first, aerial photographs were only taken by hobbyists or for military use. But with modern drone technology, aerial imagery has become accessible to businesses and consumers of all kinds.

Therefore, aerial images are being integrated into geographic information systems (GISs), computer applications (CADs) and 3rd party OGC-compliant software for quicker access, integration and data analysis. This revolutionizes industries of all kinds by allowing businesses to operate faster, smarter and cheaper than ever before.

Aerial photography can be divided into three distinct categories: low-oblique, high-oblique and vertical aerial. Each perspective offers a distinct advantage for various projects.

Low-Oblique Aerial Photographs

This type of aerial photography is often employed for mapping, land use planning and archaeology. It typically offers a wider angle than vertical aerial photography and covers more terrain.

When selecting which method to use, take into account both the altitude you will shoot at and the subject matter of your project. Doing this will enable you to select the optimal technique for your needs.

In addition to choosing the correct angle, you should select a lens that suits your camera and the subject you are photographing. A wide-angle lens works best for capturing an expansive landscape while a telephoto zoom helps you focus in on specific details.

When taking your photo, consider the scale. Large-scale pictures generally capture more detail in a wider view, while small-scale shots typically depict objects much closer to ground level.

For instance, a wide-angle shot of New York City could showcase its major landmarks while a telephoto shot would provide a more detailed view of the city’s rivers and horizon.

When planning your photography session, the type of aerial image you desire is one of the most critical decisions to make. Take time to research your location and decide when it’s optimal to shoot based on lighting conditions, weather forecasts, and other factors.

Early and late in the day offer more shadows, which can help distinguish objects and contours. If working outdoors, try to avoid flying during midday heat waves for best results.

As a general guideline, keep your shutter speed fast and ISO settings as low as possible to minimize camera shake caused by air movement. This is especially critical if you’re using a telephoto lens since they magnify vibration.

Before embarking on your flight, be sure to speak with the pilot and assess their skills and the aircraft’s performance. With their help, you may be able to optimize camera settings for a more steady shot.

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