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Aerial Photography- Images from Above

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Ankita loves to explore various aspects of science and is passionate about writing on topics of her interest.

aerial-photography-images-from-above

Aerial photography is the capturing of images from the air with a camera mounted (or hand-held) on an aircraft, balloon, kite, helicopter, rocket or any other similar vehicle. The use of aerial photography was expanded for military purposes during World War I. Aerial photography has a wide range of applications like cartography, archaeology, movie production, land use planning, espionage, conveyancing, and so on. This type of photography has been evolving since it was first practiced, from the use of balloons, kites, pigeons to today’s high-tech drones.

History of Aerial Photographs

Before the invention of drones, aerial photography was carried out using pigeons, balloons and kites. The first aerial photograph was captured by French photographer and balloonist, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as ‘’Nadar’’ in 1858. The idea of aerial photography grew in him in 1855 but it took him 3 years to experiment before capturing his first shot. The photo was that of the French village of Petit-Becentre taken from 80 meters above ground from a tethered hot-air balloon. Unfortunately, Nadar’s earliest photographs no longer survive. The oldest aerial photograph still in existence is by James Wallace Black from the 1860s. Black captured the apartment buildings of Boston from a height of 1200 feet in a hot-air balloon. This photograph taken by Black is of historical significance since much of the scene captured was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872.

The first person to successfully attach a timer to a camera was Arthur Batut. He attached the camera to a kite and captured a photo of Labruguiere, France in 1889.

Julius Neubronner in 1903 attached a small camera to homing pigeons and the timer was set to capture images every 30 seconds. The pigeons proved to be reliable soldiers but was unfortunately shot down by hungry troops during wartime and eaten.

Six weeks after the devastating earthquake of 1906, George Lawrence took an aerial photograph of San Francisco by sending his 49 pound camera to an altitude of 2000 feet on a train of 17 kites. The cameras took many panoramic shots that were 48 inches wide!

The first aerial photograph from an aeroplane was taken in 1908 by L.P. Bonvillain in France. Since then, aviation photography has found its use in science, mapping and military reconnaissance.

James Wallace Black's aerial photograph taken in 1860

James Wallace Black's aerial photograph taken in 1860

Julius Neubronner's pigeons with camera in 1903.

Julius Neubronner's pigeons with camera in 1903.

Panoramic photo taken by George Lawrence in 1906.

Panoramic photo taken by George Lawrence in 1906.

Categories of Aerial Photography

Based on the orientation of camera axis, there are three types of aerial images.

Vertical photographs: These photos have no tilt in the camera axis and a small amount of area is covered in the image. Taking vertical photographs is difficult in unstable conditions. Therefore many photographers choose to take photographs with a tilted camera axis.

aerial-photography-images-from-above

Low oblique photographs: In this type of photographs, the camera axis is tilted to more than 3 degrees so that the horizon is not visible.

aerial-photography-images-from-above

High oblique photographs: The camera axis is tilted to as much as 60 degrees while capturing this type of photographs. Thus a large area is covered along with the horizon in the photograph.

aerial-photography-images-from-above

Based on image scale, there are two kinds of photographs:

Large scale aerial photographs: When an aircraft is flying at a lower elevation, the camera captures images of a small area but the objects in the photos are seen in a bigger dimension. This is why low elevation photographs are known as large scale photographs. It is useful in measuring objects and mapping land features.

Small scale aerial photographs: When an aircraft is flying at a higher elevation, the camera takes images of a large area but the objects appear smaller relative to the ground dimension. These photographs are known as small scale photographs. It is useful in studying large areas where mapping or measurements are not required.

Conclusion

To move beyond the confines of Earth and view things from above highlights the advances of creative human minds. Whether from a hot-air balloon, aircraft, kite or pigeon, aerial images have altered the way we see ourselves and our planet. Drones are often celebrated for their ability to capture the beauty of our planet from high above. Since hundreds of years, airborne cameras have been taking awe-inspiring images of this planet, tipped the scales in combat and revealed the devastating effects of natural disasters. The history of aerial photography surprisingly dovetails with the last century of human history more broadly.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Ankita B (author) on October 01, 2020:

Thank you Rosina for your kind comments. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Rosina S Khan on October 01, 2020:

This is a very interesting article about Aerial Photography. Their history and categories make it all the more spellbinding. Wonderful images too. I really enjoyed it.

Ankita B (author) on September 22, 2020:

Thank you very much Eman. I truly appreciate your kind comments and your visit.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on September 22, 2020:

Thank you, Ankita, for sharing this informative article. I enjoyed reading it.

Ankita B (author) on September 22, 2020:

Thank you Sannyasi for reading and commenting.

Sannyasi Raja from Durgapur, West Bengal, India on September 22, 2020:

aerial view is of different quality

Ankita B (author) on September 21, 2020:

Thank you Mohit for reading and commenting.

Mohit Kumar from India on September 20, 2020:

Amazing and helpful article.

Ankita B (author) on September 20, 2020:

Thank you so much Dream On for your kind comments and your visit. I am glad that you enjoyed reading this article. Have a wonderful day.

DREAM ON on September 20, 2020:

You mentioned many things I never knew about aerial photography. You could expand your great hub and explain that today using Google Maps you can see virtually anywhere from the air. Now everyone gets to enjoy what years ago only a few could do. Thank you for teaching about the history of photography. Have an amazing day.

Ankita B (author) on September 19, 2020:

It is great to know that you have captured aerial images of the sea. Thank you very much for reading and commenting, MG. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading this article.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 19, 2020:

I liked this article because I have a high end drone. I have some fine photographs of the sea off Abu Dhabi with my G friend on a power launch . Really needs some control with the breeze !!!

Ankita B (author) on September 19, 2020:

Thank you so much Denise for reading and commenting. I appreciate your comments and your visit.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 19, 2020:

I have long been intrigued by aerial photography and really wish I could afford my own drone. For now, I will just admire those who can utilize such tech.

Blessings,

Denise

Ankita B (author) on September 18, 2020:

Thank you very much Umesh Chandra. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 18, 2020:

Well presented. Nice reading.

Ankita B (author) on September 17, 2020:

Thank you very much Devika. I appreciate your kind comments and your visit.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 17, 2020:

Nkita B Interesting about the aerial photography. Beautiful images and insightful.

Ankita B (author) on September 17, 2020:

Thank you very much Vanita for reading and commenting.

Vanita Thakkar on September 16, 2020:

Informative and interesting. Enjoyed it.

Ankita B (author) on September 16, 2020:

Thank you so much Chitrangada for your encouraging and lovely comments. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading this article.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 16, 2020:

An interesting and informative article. I learnt a lot from your well researched article.

I love photography and any information related to it. Aerial photography gives us an overall and amazing view of different places.

Thanks for sharing another wonderful and engaging article.

Ankita B (author) on September 16, 2020:

I appreciate your kind comments Prithviraj. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

Prithviraj Shirole from India on September 16, 2020:

Great wisdom on types of aerial photography. I was not knowing until now that pigeons were also used to click photos besides delivering messages. Thanks for the stunning facts.

Ankita B (author) on September 16, 2020:

True Liz. Drones have taken aerial photography to a new level.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Your comments are appreciated always.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:

There are some amazing aerial photographs around these days. The development of drones has made aerial photography cheaper and easier.

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you very much Linda. I am glad that you found this article interesting and enjoyed reading it.

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you so much Chrish for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate your lovely comments. Have a wonderful day.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 15, 2020:

This is an interesting article. The part about the pigeons was sad, but I enjoyed reading about the history of aerial photography.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on September 15, 2020:

Im grateful to those who exist before me, those people who invent so much in this world so i can live a whole lot more simpler and comfortable life. They're Awesome people! Thanks for sharing with us your History detour Ms Ankita :-) I hope you have a fantastic day!

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you FlourishAnyway for your kind comments and encouraging words.

Yes the fate of those pigeons is really unfortunate and sad to know.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 15, 2020:

This is a good article and I enjoyed reading. Well, except for finding out about the fate of those dutiful pigeons. Who would have thought they’d be capable of flying with a camera attached? Who would have thought that someone would see them going about their business and think “yum ... dinner”? Poor things.

Danny from India on September 15, 2020:

Welcome Ankita

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you so much Abby for your lovely comments which I appreciate. I am glad that you enjoyed reading this.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 15, 2020:

I was not really my topic of interest, but it was so well written that I continued reading. My husband likes to fly, so it was informative to read about airborne transportation being used for photography.

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Indeed true Danny. Thank you so much for your insightful comments. Appreciated as always.

Danny from India on September 15, 2020:

Ankita, not many people are pro at aerial photography. Aerial photos give you the minutest detail and every angle from which to analyze. This type of photography is excellent for covering heritage pots, Government, and defence sites.

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you very much Lorna for your kind comments. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading this article.

Lorna Lamon on September 15, 2020:

This is an educational and interesting article Ankita and I particularly enjoyed the historical facts. Well written with great photos.

Ankita B (author) on September 15, 2020:

Thank you so much Eric for your encouraging words. I am glad you found this article interesting.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 15, 2020:

Really interesting and well written -- who would have know about the pigeons. This is a must read for my boy today.